Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why It's So Complicated

There are plenty of people who want to see Revolution Simplified -- or no Revolution at all, for that matter. But we don't have that choice on the menu of options.

Not long, CopWatch Oakland put out a video that went viral showing Oakland Police Officers "infiltrating" the Occupy Oakland encampment.

One of them speaks out in the video below:

OPD Officer Discusses Viral Copwatch Video from Justin Warren on Vimeo.

You can say that he is lying or what have you (I have seen his boss Howard Jordan speak many times, and he is one hell of a practiced and slick liar). Even if he is lying in some ways, there is a deep sincerity in what he has to say as well. He's proud of who he is and he is proud of Oakland, and he is very cognizant of Oakland's history. He supports the goals of the Occupation, and he wants change. Referring to the teargassing of protesters in Oakland on October 25, he says, "That's our Birmingham." For him to recognize that is a tremendous step forward. And it sure does complicate matters.

I'm also linking to Jaime Yassin's report from Oakland on the way the Occupation is perceived by many of the business people around the Plaza. I've had my differences with Yassin in the past (when he was omooex at Glenn's place) and no doubt will have more in the future, but he is in Oakland and has deep roots in the activist community there (a community with which he is often at odds.) He's done his own on the ground research on the effects of Occupy Oakland on the local businesses, in partial response to the City's unsupported claims about declining business because of the Occupation, and a report in the San Francisco Chronicle that explored the same issue. This is how he concludes:

What hysterical reporting about the damage to business obscures, is that Occupy Oakland and neighboring businesses are becoming interactive players in a new downtown Oakland dynamic—one where residents, businesses, workers and campers continue to develop into a remarkable, unique and unprecedented community. The business sector of this community has varied opinions about the evolution. Some business owners, like Elena, remain supportive of overall goals, but feel that the encampment has outlived its usefulness and protesters should find a new method of protest soon. Others have no complaints whatsoever; still others are enthusiastic, despite feeling as if they’re losing business in the bargain.

One thing seems clear: the construction of this new downtown community is something that the Chamber of Commerce, police and Mayor’s Office, all of whom have failed downtown over and over throughout the years, are not involved in. Though they do dabble in trying to destroy it from time to time.

Indeed. That's the whole point. The status quo has FAILED, dismally. The Occupations -- including Oakland's -- are building a new community on the wreckage. Many observers are aware of that underlying revolutionary activism that's part of all the Occupations, even the ones that are faltering. Many observers are not. Jaime Yassin at least tries to clarify the situation -- as he finds it on the ground -- in Oakland. And that complicates things even more.

No Revolution is easy; nothing is simple. Often enough, nothing is quite what it seems to be, either.

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