Tag Archives: Occupy Oakland

A new understanding of violence and nonviolence as a tactic.

“Nonviolence is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of self-confidence and courage” – Dalai Lama tweet.

There is a debate being carried out in the #Oakland internets. Deep and contentious conversations are taking place on Oakland blogs, Facebook posts and Twitter threads about the violence that has become associated with the Occupy Oakland movement. Many advocates have withdrew their support of Occupy Oakland because they can not condone the senseless and seemingly random acts of violence (trashing landmarks, retaliating against police) and damage to our beloved city. Others feel that these acts attract the attention that is needed towards the real issues: political and socioeconomic disparities, police brutality, and local government corruption.

I think there is  confusion regarding the terms and the tactics and I think the media plays a big role in shaping our perception of what violence is and what role it plays in a movement.

Let me rephrase that. I was confused about the terms and tactics .. The media does play a big role in shaping perception of what violence is and what role it plays in a movement..but advocates can also play a role.

In a previous post, I stated that “violence isn’t graffiti or vandalizing, but violence is murder and robberies”. I had directed that statement towards the Oakland police, because I was frustrated over their focus on Occupy Oakland rather than the increase in shootings and robberies happening in Oakland recently.  Although, I still think the police need to evaluate the placement of their resources..my definition of violence (and nonviolence) has changed.

Let me share what I learned..

Webster’s 1st Definition of Violence is an..”exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse”. I previously took this to mean directing physical force or harm onto a person..but violence can include destruction of property and low level throwing bottles and stuff at police.

How does destruction of property injure Oakland? It’s demoralizing. There are buildings and landmarks within the city that has great meaning.  For example Frank Owaga, a former city council member, was also civil rights leader and (along with his family) a former Japanese detainee during the Civil War. Destruction of  City Hall and it’s plaza is an insult to his memory and all the hard work that residents and officials put into making it into a highlight of the city of Oakland. This not only hurts ‘the man’ but it hurts the residents of Oakland and all who care about the city and have pride in it. Residents that include the 99%.

When the public sees this kind of disrespect for the city, they lose respect for the movement.

How does this kind of violence compare in the face of the brutality the police uses against Occupy Oakland when occupy engages in peaceful protest? It doesn’t. The use of tear gas and batons against a protestor is inexcusable. But this is where nonviolence comes in..

Websters definition of nonviolence:..” abstention from violence as a matter of principle; also : the principle of such abstention “.

When engaging in a peaceful protest..and the police react to you by spraying tear gas and rubber bullets, try this as a tactic: do nothing. Abstain from responding in kind.  Protect yourself..cover your face, move away..but don’t throw rocks or bottles back at them. Do not go to another part of the city and cause further destruction.

Destruction of property and other violent actions places the focus on the violence, and not on the issue. Whereas nonviolence places the focus on how the police react to your nonviolent protest and gains sympathy for the issue.

The media is the media and they are going to do what they do. However, the Occupy Movement can play a role in what the headlines are going to be.  The headlines should be “400 arrested in peaceful protest” and not “Occupy destroys City Hall”.

The police should not be able to say: “they threw rocks at us!!” when confronted by the media and the public.  The  general public (the 99%) should be able to point at the police and say “all they were doing was protesting!! Why are you using our tax dollars to focus on peaceful protesting instead of the MURDER happening around the corner?”

Where did I learn this from?

Kazu Haga leads a Kingian Nonviolence Orientation in Oakland

Abstaining from violence is just part of what I learned in using nonviolence as a tactic during a two-day “Nonviolence and Conflict Reconciliation Orientation” developed from the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr taught by Jonathon Lewis and Oakland’s own Kazu Haga from the Positive Peace Warrior Network. During this two-day workshop that included readings, videos and group activities, I learned about the principles of nonviolence and how MLK and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference used it as a successful tactic during the Civil Rights movement. During this weekends orientation not only did I gain a deeper understanding of MLK and his teachings, but I learned how nonviolence plays a positive role in putting an issue to the forefront.

I was blessed by this orientation and learned so much about advocacy and conflict resolution. This was a free workshop, but I donated not only my time and energy but a little bit of cash towards this effort, because I feel it so needed during this pivotal year of advocacy in Oakland. I feel very proud to have earned my certificate!

To learn more about the Positive Peace Warrior Network and the workshop.. read their blog! Click HERE Go to a training and support their efforts! :)

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Filed under Advocacy, Oakland

Similarities between Occupy Oakland and Stand for Oakland

Zenophan Abraham‘s Zenni62.com youtube channel posted a video of Boots Riley confronting  supporters of Stand for Oakland.

Boots Riley has a point. I think Stand for Oakland needs to come to a General Assembly and bring a proposal in support of non-violent action at future protests/demonstrations.

Like all other government institutions Occupy Oakland is organized democratically..

There are some in #OO who believe in non-violent protest but they are out voted. If there is enough people to support a non-violent proposal, enough people to speak up in support and refute those against, a proposal would pass and the organization would have to follow. Right?

There are other ironic similarities between both movements.

Can’t escape violence

The man in the video can’t seem to separate the violence that occurs at Occupy protests from Occupy Oakland movement in general. However, the anti #OO movement isn’t immune to the problems inherent to Occupy Oakland either. During the Oakland City Council Meeting last night, someone testified that Occupy Oakland was being threatened with violence by some who are against #oo, and showed a flyer that said “Kill the Occupiers”. Can we attribute violent behavior of a few anti #OO individuals to the Stand for Oakland group as a whole? I would hope not.

Conflict is newsworthy

Stand for Oakland took the time out of their day to protest in front of City Hall, disrupt the peace of Frank Ogawa plaza to protest Occupy Oakland’s protest. They had news coverage.. the irony is that the only coverage worth mentioning was when there was conflict. When I turned on MSM ( main stream media ..Channel 5 news specifically) about the Stand for Oakland event, it wasn’t all positive.  It was “Shouting match at Frank Ogawa plaza” ..etc. Was that what Stand for Oakland was looking for in the coverage of the protest?  If the MSM can so easily turn something that was supposed to be positive into a negative about Stand for Oakland..imagine what they can turn an Occupy Oakland event into?

Everyone uses free speech

It seems both groups are using the same tactics to influence law makers:  protesting in downtown Oakland to attract media, in order to influence the city government to take action.

  • Stand for Oakland and the Business community doesn’t thing the City is doing enough to protect residents from #Occupy Oakland.
  • #Occupy Oakland doesn’t think the city is doing enough to protect residents from big Business and OPD and helping those that need help.

Neither one of the groups seem to want to cooperate within each others system to make change. Stand for Oakland says they agree with Occupy Oakland’s movement in general. GREAT: then go to General Assembly and participate. Make your complaints there and work on solutions there!

Occupy Oakland ..I have to hand it to you, you went to City Council last night to protest the proposal to protect the Port of Oakland by increasing police enforcement of laws against blocking streets and assembling without a permit. The proposal did not pass. But it wasn’t a win for Occupy Oakland (IMO).  It was a win for freedom of speech and the right to assemble.  The shouting match that went on between #OO and some Council members was horrible (IMO). The counsel listened to you quietly as you gave your speeches.. but when it was their turn some of you would not let them speak.

It not only bugs me (personally because I am a quiet person and I don’t like yelling)..but it gives MSM and those against #OO credibility in their arguments against you. What if a bunch of roudy Stand for Oakland folks went to General Assembly and shouted YOU down? Would you like that?

There is something to be said about catching more bees with honey.

My point in all of this is that it seems that both organizations are working to have a better Oakland. I think everyone needs to take to the time to listen to each other, respectfully, and figure out a way to work together to make it happen.  Do your research. Don’t just listen to the inflammatory language of MSM, or the Police, the Mayor, Occupy Oakland (either side essentially) and let it mislead you.  Don’t let the violent actions of a few distract people from the point of your protest.

Further comments I would like to make and rant about:

To Anti Occupy Oakland:

  •  Occupy Oakland isn’t made up of only young white out of towners!
  •  Occupy Oakland didn’t bum rush YMCA.
  •  Occupy Oakland isn’t all violent.
  •  City of Oakland: Street protest and broken windows and graffiti isn’t violence. Murders and robbery is. I wish the city and OPD would redirect their priorities on their own. People are dying in the streets and you CHOOSE to focus your efforts on Occupy? REALLY?

To Occupy Oakland

  •       PLEASE .. choose sustainable winnable actions. Taking over the Kaiser building was not one of them. Make a clear distinction between symbolic actions and real change.
  •       Random acts of vandalism may express anger but it is pointless. You love Oakland..you hate the blight that is found in other areas of the city..contributing to it does not help. I liked it when after the Nov. 2 protests groups of people cleaned up after the vandalism. Continue doing that. That would bring goodwill and will help separate yourself from the ‘violence’
  •       Be thorough in your research -  the City Council does not control OUSD  or give them funding. The State of California gives funding to the school districts. Go to Sacramento and protest there.  (THAT would be FUN!)

TO EVERYONE: I hate cigarettes..QUIT SMOKING!!! <— wait..am I yelling here? ;)

 

EDIT: Davey D just posted a an article about Black Bloc and ‘diversity of tactics’ Check it out:

Are Black Bloc and diversity of tactics hurting or helping the Occupy Movement?

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Filed under Advocacy, City Council, Oakland

Should #OccupyOakland Campers Stay? I don’t know.

Occupy Oakland General Strike (135 photos)

In my previous blog post, I enthusiastically gave #OccupyOakland my support.

On Wednesday, I participated in the awesome march to the Port of Oakland during the General Strike. (see photo album above)

Thursday, I attended the City Council meeting to discuss a draft resolution from CM Nancy Nadel, Rep for District 3 which includes downtown Oakland, that would allow camp to stay at Frank Ogawa Plaza. I tweeted throughout the meeting (see @tdlove5). If you want some riveting and juicy details (CM Brooks literally embarrassed the heck out of CM Kaplan), check out my tweets or read through tweets dated Nov. 3rd in this hashtag: #oakmtg.

Anyway, at the meeting I learned some things that have left me with mixed feelings on the whole issue. I will share what I learned at the meeting, pro and con, and explain my thoughts at the end.

Warning this post is long, but I wanted to be thoughtful and as thorough as I could be in my ‘reporting’ and subsequent thoughts. So get out your coffee, put your feet on the table and join me.

Again, let me reiterate that these are arguments that I learned from those who testified at the City Council meeting. Let me start this by saying that I truly admire those that take the time to show up to these meetings and speak. Especially the young children. It’s not an easy thing to do (people heckle others they don’t agree with).

I have attended meetings, and so far I have not been brave enough to say something. Yet. Someday, I will be ticked off enough about something to speak my mind. Or maybe even happy enough to say something nice.

Arguments for why Occupy Oakland campers should stay.

Occupy campers are providing a service to the community that the city of Oakland can’t/won’t.

Many speakers testified that there are homeless, disabled (mentally and physically), and jobless who are camping with Occupy. They are being fed, and treated (at nurses tent) and mentored on site. Something that the city of Oakland hasn’t been doing a job good of.

It’s their right. The Constitution does not preclude time or place or amount of time allowed to protest on public property.

The First Amendment of the Constitution does not explicitly place limits to freedom of expression. City Administrator Santana mentioned (and it’s my basic understanding) that you must apply for permits to have events at public parks and spaces..

(However, IMO (not Santana’s) many sit-ins and protests in the past that were successful, broke the rules and laws.)

Please note: Dorothy Jones, owner of Everett and Jones and supporter of Occupy Oakland, applied for permits so that Occupy could serve food and have events at Frank Ogawa during Wed. Nov 2 strike and provided a bbq for thousands of participants that evening.

You (the public and city) only have a problem with the trash because it is downtown.

CM Nadel and other speakers pointed out that there are homeless, trash, and violence in all parts of the city that people don’t seem to care much about. One resident said she has to live amongst violence and crime in her neighborhood in East Oakland everyday. Why does the city care about it now? Because it’s on their front door step. (and I would say because it is National news)

Occupy inspires young people towards civil protest.

A couple of young people attended the City Council meeting and testified before the council. They expressed admiration for those speaking out for their rights and trying to make a difference in the community. One young teen was a camper herself and asked that the police remember that there are young children in the camp. The police should not bring tear gas or shoot pellets at them. She also admonished them to take off their shoes upon entering the campsite.

(I have a picture as proof, but something doesn’t seem right about posting it here. shrug).

Furthermore, this is an “opportunity” for Oakland to be an example of progressiveness. To show the world that we care about equity and want to do something about it!

The police have committed unfair brutal attacks against the campers and protesters in violation of the city’s crowd control policy.

I am not sure if this is an effective argument of why they should stay, but it is a legitimate complaint. There are the examples of veterans Scott Olsen, and now Kayvan Sabehgi being injured by police action. Another resident talked about how her daughter had a tear gas canister explode on her ankle. Local reporter resident, Max Allstadt, was arrested for ‘being in the wrong place at wrong time’. And there are probably many more examples that I am missing..

Attorney Michael Siegel tweeted me a copy of the Oakland’s crowd control court order which you can download here.

Occupy Oakland does not condone violence, they are a work in progress that could use the city’s help instead of it’s condemnation. Don’t punish the whole group over a few bad apples.

Over the past couple of days you have probably heard statements from Occupy Oakland decrying the random acts of violence that occurred during the General Strike and on several other occasions. There seems to be a small sector of the community, who dress in all black and are labeled anarchists, that like to cause destruction. Even the Oakland Police Department, in public statements, identified the trouble makers as a separate group.

Occupy Oakland has apologized to the city and have organized efforts for clean-up. Last night they held a General Assembly to come up with ways to stop the violence. You can watch live streaming of GA meetings by following @OakFoSho’s live stream.

At the meeting Occupy Oakland asked the Council several times for help figuring out their electricity issues and invited them more than once to attend the General Assembly meetings.

Arguments for why Occupy Oakland should leave.

The campers are causing the city of Oakland to lose business.

The President of Oakland’s Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce testified to the city council that two businesses have left Oakland’s downtown’s office space and another business declined to make a deal to move to Oakland. Mayor Quan says that another business owner is concerned for the safety of the employees and warned that if he leaves, he will be taking 500 jobs with him.

Occupy Oakland is costing the City money and resources that the city can not afford.

Recently the city reported that the cost to the city from Occupy Oakland as of Oct. 28th has been a little over a million dollars. This does not include the costs from the General Strike or the loss of business from the shut down of the Port of Oakland.

Mayor Quan also testified that the city has limited resources..when the city directs those resources to Occupy Oakland, they are being taken away from areas of the city that really need it. Cops being used to police Occupy are being taken away from East Oakland. She pleaded with Occupy Oakland to help her, help East Oakland.

The camp has trash, public safety and violence issues. One of reasons for eviction on Tuesday, 25th was lack of communication from the campers, and not allowing the police or ambulance to answer calls of distress.

City Administrator Santana presented a thorough power point presentation listing the problems with trash and instances of violence. She said there was a report of a man being beaten over the head with a 2 x 4. A reporter being bit by a dog. The kitchen using illegal extension cords and propane tanks and various other bio-hazards that you can look at in the picture at left.

She says that the city tried various avenues of communication. She sent a staff member to GA meetings, who was not allowed to participate. They used social media, following tweets and reading Facebook posts, in order to find out what is going inside the camp. They even sent written notices that were ignored. The city were looking for a willingness to comply with the laws and to cooperate. CM Brooks even admonished Occupy in her speech saying “This was a Council that was willing to work with you”.

The downtown residents not involved in Occupy, feel their rights are not being fairly taken into consideration.

The Occupy movement had a lot of supporters at this meeting. However, there were a few brave souls who came and spoke in opposition to CM Nadel’s resolution. Residents testified that they don’t feel safe downtown anymore. That the national coverage sheds a negative light on the city. Via ear hustle, I heard one woman complain that she feels like she is being held ‘hostage’ in her own neighborhood.

When I tweeted this comment, I got some flack from a couple who were following my tweets. However, in her (and my defense), the word may be an exaggeration, but the constant drone of helicopters and the constant police action taken towards Occupy Oakland does leave one feeling trapped in a “war-like” atmosphere. (Another inflammatory phrase for you).

Further comments made by residents at the meeting (in summary): Oakland has had it’s fair share of protests and strife in the city. It’s not fair to continue to subject the city to abuse, when all we (residents of Oakland) are trying to do is survive this economic crisis and take care of our own. Why does Oakland have to be the example? Why not LA or New York?

The 1% is not here in Oakland.

CM Patricia Kernighan reminded the audience that the 1%, who Occupy is complaining against, does not reside in Oakland. Goldman Sachs is not in Oakland. Bank of America is not based in Oakland. Even the really wealthy do not live in Oakland. Why not go to Piedmont..or Marin? Or Wall Street?

The 1% don’t care about what is happening in Oakland. They are watching, sitting back in their comfortable homes and neighborhoods, and laughing at our expense.

SF Chronicle recently published an article on Bay Area companies that are targeted by the Occupy Movement (like Wells Fargo) and addresses the issue of their tax contributions.

What is the point of Occupy Oakland? Who is the leader? What are the plans? What are the goals? Why should we (city of Oakland and residents) support something without a clear agenda?

CM Brooks in her speech showed how she clearly supported Occupy Oakland. She camped out with them for the first couple of days. Yet, Brooks expressed disappointment in the fact they have yet to tell even her, a supporter, what their goals are.

In the end, the council did not make a decision. CM Nadel did not think she would have enough votes for her resolution that night so she decided not to bring it up. After a long meeting which heard over a 100 speakers, CM Reid called for another meeting at a later date to discuss specific policy solutions.

MY personal thoughts:

I actually agree with all of the points here. Pro and Con. This is why I have mixed feelings on Occupy Oakland campers staying at Frank Ogawa.

On one hand, I am in total agreement with the movement, for reasons I stated previously. On the other hand, I loathe the negative affects the occupation has had on the city of Oakland in particular.

I’m not really bothered by the fact that #Occupy Oakland has no real concrete position. I feel that this is a movement that is a work in progress. As well planned as the Civil Rights Movement has reportedly been, I find it hard to believe that there were no instances where a protest didn’t achieve a specific goal. I think that maybe there were instances in the past where people engaged in civil disobedience and protested because they were merely upset over what was happening and had no real goal in mind except to just register their complaint. Yet we don’t know about those, because there was no internet or media to broadcast those not-so-successful demonstrations for the whole world to judge and condemn. However, from those sporadic protests in the beginning, over time a thought out, goal-oriented and well-organized movement emerged that was able to achieve some success which is now being recognized and celebrated.

For some reason we aren’t allowing Occupy Oakland the chance to grow and learn. I don’t think it’s very fair. Especially if all some people are doing are being an armchair critics and not helping the situation at all.

If you are one of those feel that Occupy Oakland needs direction, guidance and focus: (my suggestion) go to their General Assembly and help them. You got concrete ideas and plans?..Share them at the GA. I have gone to the General Assembly meetings and you would be surprised at how organized and democratic they actually are. It’s pretty awesome actually. They meet in the afternoons. I don’t know what specific time but if you go to Occupy Oakland’s Facebook page you can find out.

I believe there have been successes within the Occupy Movement. Occupy Oakland shut down the Port of Oakland- the 5th largest Port in the US. Hit international and national corporations in their pocket books. If we know nothing about the ‘clear intentions, goals or expected outcomes’ of the Occupy Movement, we do know that they are tired of big corporations taking money from the 99%, and that attacking corporate pocketbooks is the preferred method to register a complaint. That’s what Occupy wanted to do and that’s what we (myself and thousands of supporters) did.

Other instances of success include Occupy Walnut Creek, and their success in getting residents to leave their banks. And today..the movement to get people to switch to credit unions. This may not directly be attributed to Occupy Oakland, but the conversation has changed. People are listening and not liking what they are seeing. Change is happening, slowly but surely.

Yes, this is costing the city (and country for the national movement) money and inconvenience. Unfortunately that’s the nature of protest. I can imagine, and it is probably documented in books that I haven’t read, the loss and suffering endured by innocent bystanders to the Civil Rights movement. However, the end did justify the means, right? We don’t like it while it’s happening..but there is potential. And in the future, when we look back we can marvel at the great change that occurred and it would be celebrated. We don’t know that yet.. but isn’t it worth it to see what happens?

Thousands of us walking to Port of Oakland- from http://www.sfbayview.com

I do not regret my part in the General Strike. It may have meant nothing in the end, but words can not accurately express what it feels like to speak out and be heard. When I was marching with the city..and we came to the overpass that takes you to the Port (as pictured above).. and we were able to witness the thousands who were marching with us…tears came to my eyes. I was so proud. It was amazing.

But does that mean that Occupy should camp out in front of Frank Ogawa plaza? I am starting to think not. CM Brooks stated (and I paraphrase) “This movement is bigger than a park. The movement won’t die just because you can’t camp out front.” This I agree with.

I also agree that the negative consequences of camping is unfair to the people who live in downtown Oakland and just want a safe place to be when they get home. The helicopters are annoying. And when I saw what (the small group of anarchists) did to Whole Foods..it broke my heart. On the other hand, it’s hard to control those who are bound and determined to make trouble. They were also bound and determined to make trouble before Occupy Oakland ever arrived. Is it fair to punish Occupy Oakland for this..or should the police do a better job of making sure this group does not have the opportunity to act again?

So what should happen? I don’t know. But, I do hope that the city and the Occupy Oakland team comes to some sort of peaceful agreement. I hope that both parties continue to communicate. I hope that members of the City Council and the Mayor attend General Assembly meetings and I hope that Occupy Oakland will allow them to speak. I really hope that the OPD can root out the small group of ‘anarchists’ and do something about them once and for all. Finally, I hope that Oakland residents can feel safe in their own city, while allowing other residents the opportunity to engage in peaceful and civil protest.

I will participate in the movement the best I can given my already hectic schedule. But, like I said, I believe in this movement. I can be patient and see what happens. I am optimistic.

What do you think?

Did I forget something that you think should be included? Let me know. Share your thoughts, complaints and solutions. I may not have all the answers, or any that satisfy you, but I love hearing different points of view.

So speak out!

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Filed under Advocacy, City Council, Oakland, Politics