Thursday, November 03, 2011

Demonstrations and violence in Oakland


While thousands marched to support OCW in Oakland, a group of less than 200 anarchists stepped on the media coverage and encouraged police repression.

This is how the AFL-CIO reported on the march on their blog:http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/11/03/occupy-oakland-unions-march-together/
“More than 7,000 Occupy Oakland protesters, union members and community and faith activists peacefully rallied against Wall Street greed, bank foreclosures and for good jobs yesterday in one of the largest demonstrations since the Occupy Wall Street movement began last month.
The Alameda County Labor Council endorsed the Day of Action and encouraged local unions and union members to take part. Many of the union members who joined in the action took unpaid time off work to make their voices heard. Unions also worked with the city government, the Oakland school system and other employers to make leave arrangements.

Oakland Education Association Secretary Steve Neat told The Associated Press:
All of these different problems—foreclosures, schools closing, attacks on labor unions—they all basically stem from the fact that the top 1 percent and corporations are never satisfied to just make profit. Their profits need to go up and up every year. It’s sort of a realization that a lot of people are having that we’ve all been fighting our own issues, but really, it’s all related, it’s all the same issue.”
….
After the march thousands returned to the park for hamburgers and food.  But, when night came, the small group of anarchists returned to the streets and smashed windows, started fires, and spray painted graffiti. 
Opinion.
This kind of irresponsible action by the small group seriously impaired the work of the large demonstration.  The Occupy Oakland group wanted to say – we are the 99 %.  But, media viewers saw- that is not me.  I don’t want any part of that petty vandalism.
In the prior week Occupy Oakland had received considerable community and labor  support after the police attack on their camp.  Now, an entire segment of the community sees the police use of force as possibly necessary. The next time someone gets hurt by the police a segment of the community will say, “ Well, they deserved it.”
There is not much that DSA can do about this kind of violence and vandalism.  However, we can be clear that we support the large, non violent efforts and we oppose the vandalism, chaos, and petty crimes.   That is not what WE are the 99% stands for.
They just made organizing harder- much harder. And, so much for consensus decision making.  Their was a consensus and they deliberately broke it.
I personally am not absolutely for non violence due to a religious or pacifist position.  But I am for non violence  in this situation as the only strategy that has a chance of winning.
I have worked in non violent movements such as the UFW, and in other movements where non violence was not an absolute commitment.
There is now a significant record that police departments and others deliberately plant agents and others to create violence to discredit movements.
It is vital for those of us on the left to not allow this petty trashing to become the face of the movement
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