Occupy Oakland Jumps Up The Movement’s Stakes

Posted on January 30, 2012. Filed under: Society | Tags: , , , |

English: Photo of Mayor Jean Quan from her 201...

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Image via Wikipedia

Saturday nights aren’t what they used to be around here. I spent part of this past Saturday night staring in mute fascination at the live online coverage of the Occupy Oakland actions.

Bay Area TV station KGO, an ABC affiliate, featured a live aerial feed of the events in downtown Oakland. No sound, just streaming video. I tuned in late, after the occupation of the YMCA property and city hall — wasn’t sure what I was seeing, not being much familiar with Oakland. The camera showed lots of police, fire and other emergency personnel gathered on the streets, cordoning off what appeared an area around the entrance to the YMCA. Big building, largish crowd of trapped protestors.

Reports say the Occupiers planned to take over an unused city building — a shuttered convention center. That doesn’t seem like such a reasonable request, actually. Not too many cities are going to open up a building for unlawful occupancy, not in this country. We’ve seen this movie before.

Thwarted by the police from taking control of the vacant convention center, protestors turned their wrath on city hall — destroying public property and apparently getting a good start on a rampage. Then they invaded the YMCA, bursting in and startling the fitness enthusiasts in the midst of their exercise routines. That must have been interesting.

Idle threats?

Threats have been made to occupy the city’s ports, the airport and other strategic facilities should the city not allow the protestors to occupy a city building. We’ll have to see what happens next on that count.

Protestors accused the police of making illegal arrests and of strong-arming them, basically. Mayor Jean Quan defended the police on Sunday, saying they handled the situation with due respect for the law. Oakland’s police department doesn’t have the best of reputations — it continues to operate under a federal consent decree stemming from civil rights violations years ago — and the Occupiers are well aware of it. An Occupy news release warned that the police department would likely face more civil suits that would cost taxpayers more money following Saturday’s action. More than 400 people were arrested on Saturday according to the San Francisco Chronicle Occupy Takes Stock.

Saturday’s drama felt like a day of testing limits for the Occupiers — to see how far they could go in pushing the city, and to see just how hard the city would push back. Oakland’s a good venue for that type of action, since the police are under such close national watch.

Occupy activity has slowed in the northern states such as Minnesota this winter. That doesn’t mean it’s gone away. Come spring, the Occupiers will undoubtedly be back in the northern spotlight. What comes next? Is Oakland an anomaly? Or will the Occupiers return in force with even more confrontational tactics? What’s in store for the big national political conventions — the Democrats in Charlotte, the Republicans in Tampa Bay — this summer? Days of Rage II?

My interest in the Occupy movement, its aims and direction, is growing. I don’t know quite what to make of it, especially in light of what appears to have been a poorly organized action this past Saturday in Oakland. Although the net result was national attention for Occupy at a time when some wonder where it’s gone. But I’m planning to write on it again soon. I hope you’ll stay tuned…

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[…] Occupy Oakland Jumps Up The Movement’s Stakes (prstar.wordpress.com) […]

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Good perspective.

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