Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Oakland Shooting and Endless Sanctimony
Within the hour, it's been reported that a man has been shot near the Occupy Oakland encampment and a news videographer was assaulted when he went to film the incident. The man who was shot was apparently chased by several men, one of whom shot him several times with a small caliber weapon; the man fell to the ground near Tully's; when the news cameraman went to film him, people who were apparently part of the Occupation pushed him out of the way and formed a human chain around the shooting victim until Emergency Services arrived.
These are all very sketchy and preliminary reports of course, and most of the information I have been able to glean up to this point has come from Twitter and posts linked from Twitter. There is one video showing the man on the ground being tended to and police pushing obviously distraught people back from the scene.
The overhead view from the news helicopter shows many people milling about among a lot of police cars. There appears to be little or no animosity toward the police at this point. From the Tweets, it's clear that people connected with the Occupation are devastated.
They insist that the incident had nothing directly to do with the encampment. Some of the reports indicate that the man who was shot was running toward the encampment and away from the men who were chasing him. They say they do not know who any of these people were.
Dozens of people are holding a candlelight vigil near the site of the shooting. The victim is reported to have died.
Many people on the Twitter feed I am following are incensed by this shooting -- proof, they seem to believe, of the violence of the Occupy Oakland encampment, and an excuse to eliminate it, just as the Mayor and the City Council have insisted must happen.
On the other hand, many of those on the scene have seen no violence by people camped at the Plaza at all; if anything, they are reporting a sense of real community in mourning for a fellow human being.
Of course there are those who believe than any large gathering in Oakland is by its nature "violent." It's Oakland, after all.
My editorial opinion of these strongly held beliefs about Oakland and the people there -- and the stark differences in those beliefs -- has a lot to do with simple racial stereotyping. At times, these stereotypes are hilarious, but at a time like this, it can be tragic. The more nuanced view is class based. Whether these stereotypes are based on race or class, they represent a very sad picture of how much farther Americans have to go before we are a truly inclusive and egalitarian society.
If that state can ever be achieved.
The man who was shot was apparently black, as were the men who were chasing him. Black men get shot in Oakland all the time, sometimes by the police (cf: Oscar Grant). It's a fact of urban life, and not a welcome one. It has been pointed out that if this (apparent) murder had happened somewhere else in Oakland rather than near the Occupation, little would be said about it. It would barely be noticed. But because it was near the encampment, it is a huge story.
And a very sad one.
And as is always the case, endless sanctimony will be applied to the problem. I was just listening to a city councilman prate on endlessly about how his "worst fears were realized," and how the encampment has to go, there is no other choice, yadda yadda. Why this man was allowed unrebutted airtime is anyone's guess. Well, no, it's not. The purpose of the media is not "news" it is propaganda. And the Oakland/Bay Area elite propaganda is sanctimony and dismissal of the Occupations and the Occupiers.
That's simply the way it is.