Good for them; many there tried to stop the intentional police provocation and injury being perpetrated by the few in black who were intent on darkening a glorious day-long action that otherwise would have been remembered solely as a demonstrable blow against the plutocracy via Peaceful People Power.
I checked in on the several diaries here yesterday that were attempting to shed light on the identities of the nihilistic morons who seemed to believe that smashing windows, lighting fires in buildings and throwing M80s and rocks at cops was…helpful to the movement. It seemed that most believed they were either contract mercenaries or police acting as agents provocateurs, as do others around the web.
I spent most of the day collecting links and reading to try to establish any amount of verifiable fact/truth/believable opinion as to who these black-hoodied idiots are, and to assess the tone of the coverage of events. I’ll say up front that I have my doubts as to any of those points of view presented, but really, identifying them is key to stopping them from screwing up a very directed movement against the PTB who are stealing the lives and futures of the 99%, Fuck-ed Be Their Names…
From the accounts I’ve read, anywhere from 7,000 to 20,000 peaceful protestors, including families with children, babies in strollers, pulled off an incredibly successful action, and throughout the day no police were in evidence whatsoever. There seems to be some confusion in the various reports, but it seems there were at least two different groups: one massed at the port, another downtown at the banks.
Sometime before midnight police responded to calls about vandalism at a number of downtown businesses including the Traveler’s Aid building, Whole Foods, and an art gallery. This tick-tock from the San Jose Mercury News starts around midnight.
It mentions that the Black Hoodies had thrown rocks and other debris at police who arrived on the scene, as well as M80s they had launched at them and onto the fire they had set earlier in the middle of the street.
For those at FDL who believe that any of these acts are less egregious than what the police did last week to protesters, thus excusable, I’d remind you that one of the key reasons that the movement is swelling is because it’s been non-violent so far. The clear distinction has been drawn that protesters exercising their first amendment rights on public space did not warrant any of the police crackdowns, brutal attacks or arrests that have occurred; teevee viewers seem to be getting it, and are increasingly identifying and appreciating with the brave souls are standing up for them and the vast numbers of the 99%.
Further, attacks on police will not make cops sympathetic to the truth that they are also the 99%, guilty only of acting in defense of the same elites that have controlled us for far too long, some of course far too brutally; they must be disciplined or fired by their bosses, IMO.
Lastly, assuming the masked hoodies in Oakland were police or hired Eric Prince-like mercenaries may make sense historically, but it just may not have been so in Oakland. In defiance of the weight of current conventional wisdom here, I think they really may be organized anarchists.
As a movement, formal or otherwise, I know little about anarchists, but I have read that Oakland has been known as the epicenter of that ideology for some time now. There has been a history of confrontation between cops and citizens there acting as a fertile breeding ground for confrontational ideology. As I searched anarchist websites, I did check as far as possible to make sure these weren’t hastily constructed websites as far as I knew how; most of the links went to other sites, though a few were rather dead ends.
This piece at anarchistnews.org chronicles the history of anarchists’ involvement in the riots after Oscar Grant’s murder by BART cops, and again after his killer Mehserle’s trial verdict of involuntary manslaughter, both deemed as ‘successes’ by the author, assumedly because of the riots that ensued, not in spite of them. He also clearly indicates that area anarchists were not only at the General Assembly, but he claims to have influenced others there to accept their tactics.
A writer at news.infoshop explains why his/her group chose to ‘occupy’ the Traveler’s Aid building in an albeit crazy logic given the alleged lighting of fires inside, likening it to the Occupy Foreclosures movement. The final paragraphs say:
“It is no longer clear who calls the shots in Oakland anymore. At the same time as OPD and the Alameda County Sheriffs were suiting up and getting ready to smash heads and gas people on 16th St, Mayor Quan was issuing a statement that she wished to speak to us about returning the building to the Traverler’s Aid Society. It is clear that the enmity between the Mayor and the Police has grown so intense that the police force is now an autonomous force, making its own decisions, irrespective of City Hall. This gives us even less reason to listen to them or respect the authority now.
We understand that much of the conversation about last night will revolve around the question of violence (though mostly they mean violence to “property,” which is somehow strangely equated with harming human beings). We know that there are many perspectives on these questions, and we should make the space for talking about them. But let us say this to the cops and to the mayor: things got “violent” after the police came. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and then the barricades were lit on fire. The riots cops marched down Telegraph and then bottles got thrown and windows smashed. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and graffiti appeared everywhere.
The point here is obvious: if the police don’t want violence, they should stay the hell away.”
Note the passive voice: ‘’…then the barricades got lit on fire’, ‘…then bottles got thrown’ (some reports said they were flaming bottles thrown at cops; I really don’t know).
I did go looking for the Oakland Police Officer’s Association’s Open Letter to the Citizen’s of Oakland; you may want to read it.
A good friend (Robert A. Dumas) and I have been talking all this over by phone. He said he’d heard the author of the open letter on the radio, and volunteered that he sounded reasonable, not a bit like a fascist, and reminded me of the fear and regret the cops in Longview, WA had had enforcing orders around the Longshoremen’s Wildcat Action at the Port of Longview in September. So to the degree any or all of the police are redeemable, and can be persuaded to join us, these actions are supremely counter-productive.
My friend additionally was of the opinion that the Bay Area may well be home to anarchists, but that he doubted they were ubiquitous nationally; I have no idea. But I could make a case that if they do see these actions as successes, more passive adherents may turn activist; that would be a bad thing, IMO. Clearly the more the #Occupy protests prove more dangerous as the result of vandalism or attacking police, the fewer Americans will embrace them.
Other protesters believe so, too, and worry that The Few can discredit The Many, as noted in this Fox News coverage; and yes, I was actually encouraged by many online news reports that gave space to peaceful protesters’ quotes, and their plans to address strategies for neutralizing thesefolks, whoever they are.
Sunday night will be the next general assembly at #Occupy Oakland; they might post any decisions they came to afterwards. There, of course, is where these discussions and debates will happen, not in my head or…on this site or others, all of our ever-so- brilliant opinions notwithstanding. ;o)
My friend also reminded me of the need for us to convince all potential movement allies of this Justin Raimondo quote:
“’Left” and “right’ mean nothing in the current context: the real division is between government-privileged plutocrats and the rest of us. What you have to ask yourself is this: which side are you on?”
Peace to you all; stay strong and love one another all you’re able. And I politely request that you listen to Bruce covering Dylan’s awesome song as you comment. May it expand your awareness, imagination and thinking as you listen. Thank you.
“…flashin’ for the warrior..whose strength is not to fight…”
(cross-posted at www.kgblogz.com)