Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This is Insane -- And They Know It
Hundreds of police from all over Northern California are participating in the ongoing action in Oakland to attack Occupy Oakland and their supporters since early yesterday morning.
What's going on is ratchet tightening on the part of officials, in the somewhat wan hope that by increasing the aggressiveness of the police, the protest will fizzle out; so far, it's not working. Not in Oakland, at any rate.
So far as I can tell from the various television, livestream, and print coverage, there is a very dedicated core of at least 1000 Occupy Oakland demonstrators and their supporters who will simply not "go away." Add to them a rotating group of at least another 1000 or more who stand in solidarity against the police aggression, who come and go -- many don't like being gassed for some reason and they don't stick with the demonstration after tear gas and flash bangs are fired into the crowd -- as the demonstration evolves.
I'm linking to some KTVU videos below that show at least some of what happened last night -- some of which I saw taking place live via other video resources (unfortunately, Occupy Oakland's Livestreaming was not the best) -- just to give an idea of what has been going on. Please don't listen to the mindless blather of the "news" people, some of whom were gassed and flash-banged. It annoyed them greatly, and they tend to blame the "protesters" for their discomfort. Whaa.
The video linked above was taken last night at ground level, in the midst of the march toward the City Hall and Frank Ogawa Plaza (renamed by the Occupiers "Oscar Grant Plaza") where the main Occupy Oakland encampment had been. It is a relatively typical Occupy Wall Street affiliated demonstration and march. There is nothing unusual about it nor is there anything threatening about the demonstrators or marchers. It is clear from everything I have seen -- of course that's not everything -- that there is a conscious, deliberate effort on the part of the demonstrators to confront the police peacefully. Accusations have been flying since the camp raid yesterday morning that the demonstrators have been "throwing things" at the police, including rocks and plates and skillets. I kid you not. There is no evidence whatever that I have seen that the crowd has been doing so prior to being fired upon by the police. Once the gas is fired into the crowd, some people will throw the gas canisters back into the police formations. That is absolutely all I have ever seen anyone in the crowd throw at police.
In the video above, near the very end, you will see something that looks like a large bag or something like that on the ground as the crowd runs away from the gas. Then suddenly members of the crowd run back to this object on the ground, and it is clear that it's not an object, it's a person. They attempt to check on this person's condition when a flash-bang goes off right in the midst of them, and the video ends.
In another of the videos, below, a "news" caster states that she saw someone on the ground bleeding profusely. She didn't know how that had happened. Maybe the victim fell or was pushed? Who can say?
In the video below, we see the firing of gas and flash-bang grenades directly into the crowd. It's difficult to watch, at least it is for me. The only time I have experienced tear gas was in Oakland, a long time ago (I think there is a post below that mentions that day...) and I still have body-memories of it. It's not something I fear, but it is not something I wish on anyone else, either.
By this time, a sub-set of the crowd is very defiant. They are being attacked. For what? For being there. For being loud. For being persistent and demanding. For refusing to be moved. For standing up to and challenging corrupt authority. For insisting on and acting on their rights as citizens and human beings exploited by a corrupt and indifferent system.
So what happens? The streets of Oakland turn into a mini-version of the streets of Athens, Cairo, Damascus, or Tripoli.
The attempts at suppression have come here. Not quite full bore, but getting there.
Things may start getting rougher for Occupiers everywhere. Intellectually, they're prepared, even hyped by the challenges ahead; they are not by any means -- at least from what I can tell -- dissuaded from continuing to demonstrate by the threats of official violence, nor by the acts of violence by the police in Oakland.
The more violence the authorities unleash on demonstrations like this, the stronger the resolve of the demonstrators. This should be obvious by now. It should be obvious.
In other news, there were reports that the (Un)Occupation in Albuquerque would be evicted from the University during the night, but I haven't checked yet on what happened.
The local Occupy Sacramento contingent went before the City Council last night once again, to politely but firmly request that the city authorities desist from their policy of arrest of Occupiers and open the Plaza 24/7, or face lawsuit. It was clear that not only were the council-members not interested, they weren't even hearing the always-articulate speakers on the Occupation's behalf. So. There were more arrests last night; the first batch of 18 who were arrested on October 6 go to court this morning for arraignment. The District Attorney refused to prosecute on state charges of illegal assembly saying that as far as she is concerned, there was no illegal assembly, and therefore there was nothing for her to prosecute. On the other hand, the City Attorney is apparently going to try to pursue loitering charges against the 18. According to one of the local attorneys working pro bono on behalf of the Occupiers, the rumor is that the City Attorney will ask the the charges be reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction -- so as to avoid any possibility of a jury trial. The attorney recommends not accepting the reduction in charges because it is the interest of the Occupiers to go forth to a jury trial rather than accept a fine for an infraction. There is a rally scheduled at the courthouse at 8:00a this morning in solidarity with those who will go to court today. There have been approximately 80 arrests locally, four more last night, and as many have cogently pointed out, the city is wasting money on all of this; just open the Plaza and there will be no problem. As I put it, "Stop the arrests, drop the charges, open the Plaza."
It's so very simple.
The thing of it is, by not taking such a simple course, by refusing to hear or to act on the interests of the People, the Authorities -- wherever they are -- reinforce the complaints of the Occupations, and they strengthen the resolve of the Occupiers to persist and resist.
It's an interesting tactical move. Assuming they are thinking on those lines.
It's not clear that they are actually thinking, however. It looks more like the mindlessness of almost any modern bureaucratic system that sees nothing, hears nothing, and learns nothing. They have an environmental cue. They respond automatically.
Same as it ever was.
And they know it.