Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thugs in Oakland, Honorable Police in Albany

The movement enters a new stage...

Police in Albany know what "good policing" means (not the mayor or the governor). You can thank them, right here.

• Not so much in Oakland. A marine among the peaceful protestors is currently in the hospital with a skull fracture. Despite widespread videos from every conceivable angle, Oakland police officially deny using flashbang grenades and rubber bullets.

From the Occupiers Journal series:

Wednesday, October 26th
Oakland, CA

Chants of "Whose streets? Our Streets!" ring out from nearly a thousand protesters outside City Hall in Downtown Oakland. Standing on the street corner, I see a peaceful but angry crowd. Tensions were already high after police executed early morning raids; firing beanbag rounds and tear gas at sleeping #OccupyWallStreet activists before finally arresting nearly a hundred people.

My morning started by witnessing a man attempt to retrieve his tent from the remains of the campground. Four police officers picked him up and slammed him face first into the concrete right in front of my office building. Busted and bleeding, he was cuffed and tossed into the back of a van.

Now, the crowd marches back to the plaza. Fueled by stories of injured family and friends, the objective is clear. We cannot be intimidated, by police brutality or any other means.

"I hereby declare this an unlawful assembly," one police officer with a bullhorn says. "In the name of the people of California, I order you to disperse. If you do not do so, you will be arrested, subjected to force, chemical agents and possible serious injury."

But we are the people of California? Isn't it our duty to protest insane campaign finance laws? To demand concrete financial reform? To refuse to allow our taxpayer dollars to prop up an unethical system of corporate welfare? While all of these ideas are certainly present, in this moment, the shouting from the crowd is more reflective of a pure, basic emotion. The furious frustration that not only is no one listening but now they are trying to forcibly shut us up too.

And then, flash-bang grenades. Tear gas. Confusion and panic. What was a peaceful protest one second earlier now resembles a warzone. People trip, fall, help one another up, and duct flying flash-bang grenades and tear gas canisters that seem to be fired directly at them.

After three hours, the police finally clear most of the square with this type of force. What they can't seem to understand is that this was never about the square. It was never about this one night. It is about a collective effort the change the narrative to something more reflective of what people are actually experiencing in their daily lives. It is about cultivating the space to allow an expression to gradually and organically develop into a movement. We aren't there yet. But we are going back tonight.

With resolved hope,

Jackson Raders
Downtown Oakland

• "Prepared for winter. We're going to be here for a while:"

Where Do We Go From Here? Occupy Wall St. from Ed David on Vimeo.

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