Oakland officials are gearing up for another crackdown on the Occupy Oakland camp, justified in part by recent acts of vandalism by people who may not even be part of the movement.
By Joshua Holland
November 11, 2011
During an Occupy Oakland camp meeting on November 3 – the morning after a boisterous but peaceful day of protests in Oakland devolved into a barrage of teargas and “less lethal” bullets after nightfall — about a dozen “occupiers” expressed their frustration with the vandalism that had marred the evening; acts of mayhem committed by a small number of people among the thousands who took part in the protests.
“Who are these people?” asked one protester who would only identify himself as Dave. “They’re not staying here with us, they’re not participating in the GAs [general assemblies] and as far as I’m concerned, they’re not a part of this movement.”
Another protester spoke of how the broken windows and spray-painted graffitti had overshadowed the “beautiful thing” they’d accomplished during the day. “We shut down the fucking Port of Oakland,” she said, “and all the news is talking about today is this bullshit that went down last night.”
Another activist spoke of the sense of vulnerability she felt, as police have come to rely on a handy group of “black bloc anarchists” to justify their violent responses.
Indeed, on November 10, I spoke with an Oakland police officer about the department’s crowd control strategy that night. “My feeling is that if you want to protest or whatever, that’s fine by me. But when things get out of control, then public safety has to step in.” He said the police had learned that “things were getting ugly” that night, with “this small group of troublemakers breaking windows and spray-painting buildings.”
I asked him to clarify at what point the decision had been made to intervene with a large number of riot police, and he responded, “I can’t tell you all the details.”