Last week I weighed in on police brutality committed during the Occupy Oakland protest movement. In the comments section, a bit of a dust-up occurred between a reader from Oakland who thought there was blame to be placed on both sides, and another who objected saying that police brutality of this kind is never justified. Other things were said as well.
The boyfriend of the Oakland reader helpfully provided me with this excellent video that he shot the night after the clash.
In it, he explores the city and gives a (fairly) neutral account of what’s happening on the ground. Anyone looking for sex or violence will be sadly disappointed, but if you appreciate good tunes and documentary looks at ongoing social movements, then this is definitely worth 20 minutes of your time.
As for me, my stance hasn’t changed. I support the Occupy Movement unequivocally, and while I recognize that violence was committed on both sides of the protest, I am suspicious enough of police and the political system in the Bay Area that I am inclined to side with the protesters. Especially since the actions taken by police seem to have been illegal.
I can understand the frustration felt by people who want no part of the Occupy Movement. That frustration, however, does not translate into lack of legitimate purpose for the protest. We’re all going to have to be patient and wait for the process to work its way through. Better yet, we could get involved and help instead of tut-tutting from the sidelines.
Thanks go out to Clifford Brown III:
Brown Audio Solutions & Services
San Ramon, CA
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Of course I’m on the side of the protestors and I’m (mostly) against violence. But this isn’t a level playing field where both sides are equally matched. The cops are armed, they have armor and shields and helmets, and have society’s permission to use them all when feeling “threatened” by unarmed protestors.
Throwing a tear gas grenade back at the cops does not equal launching missles at protestors. Yes, the cops use this as justification to attack but we don’t have to adopt their morals.
I’ve posted this elsewhere today but want to post it here too. History is important.
Oakland has always been famous for its brutal lying police and its prosecutorial abuses against “liberals”. They are most famous for arresting and prosecuting an environmentalist leader who was the victim of a car bombing (Judi Bari, plenty of links on the web) in 1990 —they charged her for bombing herself!!!!! She had been fighting against excessive timber harvests and was probably bombed by industry operatives.
She eventually charged the Oakland Police Department and FBI for framing her and violating her constitutional rights. She and her companion won 4.4 million dollars in damages. In light of what happened in Oakland last week, it is ironic to read the overly-optimistic press releases which followed that judgement:
“On June 11, 2002, a federal jury returned a stunning verdict in favor of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in their landmark civil rights lawsuit against four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers.”
“The jury unanimously found that six of the seven FBI and OPD defendants tried to frame Judi and Darryl in an effort to crush Earth First! and chill participation in Redwood Summer. That was evident in the fact that 80% of the $4.4 million total damage award was for violation of their First Amendment rights to speak out and organize politically in defense of the forests.”
“It’s really beyond our wildest dreams,” said Darlene Comingore, Judi Bari’s friend and executor of her estate who stood in for her as co-plaintiff in this suit. “We hope the FBI and Oakland and all the police forces out there that think they can violate people’s rights and get away with it are listening because the people of the state of California and Oakland today said, ‘No, you can’t. You can’t get away with it.’ “
I think this video is enirely too pro-police.
Take a look at this:
Shit that’s scary. One more reason not to even give the appearance of being in their faces. My mom always told me about the dangers of being guilty by association – it sucks, but if you’re interested in self-preservation… I learned in high school when everyone thought I was a smoker and I had never had a single drag, but I spent all the breaks out on the “smokers’ corner” with my friends. Maybe that makes me an apologist for the current system, but I have too much to lose, unfortunately.
If you’re brave enough to go out there and stare them down, way to go, you’re waaaay more badass than me. I like my job and my health. And I’ve worked hella hard for my job, and I have a child to think about and protect. A newly 5-yr-old child who was subjected to the tear gas rolling down the streets the other night because I purposefully chose to live in an urban environment. It’s not right that we were tear gassed in our sleep, but it was a choice to live on the border of West Oakland.
Thanks for posting. It’s true that Oakland police have a long history of really messing people up. While I don’t condone that in any way, I don’t think you can go into shark-infested waters, cut yourself, and not expect to get bitten. On the night of the general strike, I was coming home from work in the city and got off BART at West Oakland. TONS of people. Going back to the city after protesting in “the town.” I kind of think when you come to Oakland to protest, you’re looking for a particular reaction.
Just look at the difference in histories of protest between Oakland and SF. SF had hippies. Oakland had Black Panthers. The history is so very different, and I think you’d have to be pretty naive to come protest in Oakland and think the cops weren’t going to smack you down given the first opportunity. Did you see that another war vet was beaten and arrested, and had to be hospitalized for spleen damage from the beating the cops gave him? AFTER spending 18 hours in lockup?
Just know what you’re getting into, really. Yeah, it’s not right, but there are places I don’t go alone at night. There are also places where you should be legitimately scared of police. You can’t watch the Oscar Grant video without knowing that as a certainty in your core. Choosing to go out and protest in Oakland should be a serious decision, not entered into lightly… that’s all I meant by my previous comments as well! You gotta know where you are. Gotta love Mighty Mos Def; his song “Got” says a lot – this is how you get got. Partially facetious, partially dead serious.
Okay, last comment. The most recently brutalized war vet is also an Oakland business owner, who was walking down the street the night he was arrested. He ran into a police line and was told by police to move. Move to where, he asked? And he was promptly beaten and arrested, and had to be hospitalized afterward. It is NOT right.