Spray Paint & Broken Windows Black Bloc style Tactics… Are they Good or Bad for Oakland?

In the aftermath of Occupy Oakland’s Historic General Strike and shut down of the Port of Oakland, there’s been a lot of talk about ‘violence’ and its varied and nuance definitions and property damage and whether or not its an appropriate tactic at protests and demonstrations..

During the day of the November 2 General Strike there were a number of marches that were designed to fan out into neighboring communities, bring attention to the strike and ideally get big banks to close their doors. One of the those marches was deemed the March Against Capitalism. Here you see folks donning Black masks and scarfs spray painting and tearing up a Whole Foods Grocery Store as well as a few nearby banks..

Those in support of the march and this activity say we shouldn’t get upset over property damage. We should be more upset with the damage/ violence the banks and big businesses have done on the average everyday person..

Banks can easily get their windows repaired, but can we easily get our economy that they destroyed by them repaired. In short the banks and big financial institutions are violent with us everyday… They refer to the people attempting to stop the destruction of property as ‘Peace Police‘ as they note that sometimes a broken windows are needed to shake things up make larger points.

Its also been argued that there’s no difference between violating the law by breaking windows vs those who decide they wanna take direct actions in violations of the law like stopping traffic in the middle of rush hour, setting up tents in the front of city hall or hanging a banner in a spot where no permission was granted. It boils down to what type of tactic one wants to use to get their point across…

It’s also been noted that those who believe in using these types of tactics have been apart of the Occupy Movement from day one…

March Against Capitalism Photo credit: Reginald James/ Black Hour

With respect to the property damage done at Whole Foods.. It was said to be done because the management threatened to fire any of its employees who partook in the strike..That allegation was reported to have been denied.

Those in opposition say that these types of tactics take away from the overall message of a demonstration especially if you are trying to win public support to a particular cause..

In addition there is a concern that these types of tactics bring about unwarranted crack downs by the police where folks who have nothing to do with the destructive activity get swooped up.

The other nagging question is why destroy anything in a struggling city like Oakland? Why not bring this tactic on the doorsteps of the 1% in more affluent areas like a Walnut Creek? Aptos? or nearby Piedmont? Why attach this to a march where the majority of folks aren’t embracing or willing to participate in such activity?

Peep the video below and give us your thoughts…Is this type of activity ever appropriate? Is there a difference between what was done with Whole Foods and the banks at these protestors in Oakland vs when we saw banks burning in Greece during their economic crises and many of us cheered? Did we view the unrest differently in places like London or France over police shootings vs the confrontations we witnessed last week after the General Strike in Oakland? Where do we draw the line?

For additional perspective on this you can peep the following article;



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Former Black Panther Chair Elaine Brown Speaks About Occupy Oakland & General Strike

OLMNews anchor Davey D speaks with Elaine Brown, former chairman of the Black Panther Party, at the General Strike in Oakland, CA. She had just returned from the Port of Oakland which was shut down by an estimated 15-20 thousand of people. She was elated as she heaped praise up on today’s younger generation of leaders.. She expressed her solidarity for the #occupy movement.


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What will happen to Occupy Wall Street if it loses its Park

What will happen to Occupy Wall Street if it loses its Park?

by Danny Schecter
The tarps are flapping and the tents are not bringing much warmth.
The harsh winds of winter are lashing the encampment at Zuccotti Park – or as many would prefer, “Liberty Plaza” – the symbol of a wannabe revolution against the status quo and powercrats of the American oligarchy.

The hard, real-world contradictions of urban life have bumped up against the idyllic hopes of the occupiers as all the urban crises that our society has ignored and neglected surface in that half acre of hope.

There are man/woman handlers and gladhanders, doers and dopers, ragers and even rapists, and so many poor with nowhere else to go. There are cops on the outside (and many on the inside) who plan for and hope for the worst.

This fight is not just the 99% against the 1%, because truth be told, this movement has so far only motivated a minority of the conscious and has yet to reach a majority of the beleaguered and oppressed.

When I joined a march last Saturday, one occupier seemed to recognize this reality with a home-made sign, that read “I am part of the 1% of the 99% that is protesting. Where are the rest of us?”

Polls showing broad public support are not enough. Public opinion can be fickle and easily manipulated.

True, some unions are reaching out to the Occupy Movement, but they are at their lowest point in a century. They are fighting for survival.

JA Myerson writes on the new, must-read OWSNews.org website that many are preparing to evacuate the park in this winter of growing discontent, as the lines between those who want change and those who don’t become clearer.

“For the last week or so, the 1%-owned media have been doing everything possible to give their fellow 1%-er and good friend Mayor Bloomberg the political cover necessary to seize Zuccotti Park. They have made an example of a restaurant whose business is suffering because of barricades – but who put up the barricades? They have made an example of the unsanitary conditions arising among a community deprived of facilities – but who deprives it of facilities? They have made an example of the homeless people and drug addicts who populate the park – but who has denied them anywhere better to go? And now that they have cultivated the image of a failed project (after themselves erecting the barriers to its success), they appear to be gearing up to demolish it.”

The Occupy Wall Street encampment during a recent snowstorm, 10/30/11. (photo: Julie Dermansky/flickr) go to original article

The New York Times believes (and perhaps hopes) the occupation is sputtering, writing, “Occupy Wall Street Protest Reaches a Crossroads.”

That could happen because revolutions don’t run in straight lines and don’t happen only when those most aware among us want them too. The occupiers have the sympathy, but a company called Brookfield owns the property, in a society where property rights trump human rights.

There are rumors that a new location is being considered.

Revolutions happen when social and economic conditions ensure they are unstoppable, when the crisis makes millions understand not only their inevitability but their desirability, and when many forces converge and see no alternative.

It’s one thing to call a General Strike, but mounting one requires more than staging a mass protest in one city for one day after less than a week of mobilizing. Yes, the turnout in Oakland was impressive, but it could not be sustained.

As Noam Chomsky advised before it happened, “you have to educate – educate yourself and others – before you strike.” The violence of a few was used to discredit the efforts of the many, prompting as many criticisms from within as from without.

Why does a macho handful always feel the need to prove how militant they can be?

There are no shortcuts to building a deeper and broader movement. Organizing is not easy but is always essential. Being right is never enough!

The Italian theorist Gramsci advised revolutionaries a century ago to fuse “pessimism of the intelligence and the optimism of the will.” He was right about that then and he is right now.

A group of Democrats in Lower Manhattan looked for some historical lessons, warning:

“Revolutionary pretensions can be dangerous. They threaten the status quo, suggest instability, and often threaten and provoke real violence. America, like it or not, has a stable and venerable system of government which yields ceaseless peaceful transfers of power, and is in actual fact fairly responsive to voter sentiment, despite even the most level-headed criticisms made over the issues of inaction and corruption. Isolated incidents and injustices aside, our civil servants are professional and disciplined.”

While this may have been once true, that system is cracking under the weight of cynicism, polarization and corruption. The polls show Congress enjoys record lows of public support. So does President Obama and, in fact, his Republican challengers.

This does not mean the country is ready to scrap the system, but is a sign of growing dissatisfaction. While some of us have become intensely politicized, others are tuning out, taking refuge in the distractions of consumerism, entertainment and sports.

While the financial industry is the main enemy, it is allied with, and finances, a media industry that specializes in obscuring issues and propagandizing 24/7. It is a master of withholding important information and ridiculing dissidents while it boosters war and promotes passivity.

We have to get beyond our own self-righteousness and hear our critics, not just among the buffoons of the right who are the easiest to refute and dismiss.

We have to study the long history of failed attempts to turn our country around and learn from it. We have to acknowledge our mistakes as well. This generation of activists is not the first to take on the status quo.

Revolutionary zeal may be driving many – but can also drive them to disillusion and despair in a society focused on instant remedies like Alka-Seltzer.

We are a generation that wants everything, and wants it NOW! We may have speed dating, but not speed social transformations and political revolutions.

Today’s occupations are not the first, either. The Democrats I referenced before looked to an earlier moment in our own revolution’s history: #OccupyValleyForge.

True, that was a war, not a movement, but its methods deserve scrutiny.

As I have just learned:

“They brought in what were known as Regimental Camp Followers, women and children, basically, relatives and families of enlisted men. They built structures, erected defenses, and two more things. They worked out an alliance with France, and they basically made the Continental Army out of their troops at Valley Forge. They did this with the help of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who had been, dare I say, a community organizer type for the Prussian military … community.

The Continental Army was built through shared hardship and struggle, with excruciating drilling and training, and they were provided with ample moral support in the form of the Regimental Camp Followers.”

History never repeats itself. The bearded oracle once said that when it does, the second time is farce.

We have to prepare for the possibility that Occupied Wall Street will take new forms, and may have to spread out and decentralize as it already happening with meetings in public atriums and churchyards.

It has already outgrown one park and spread through the world. It has, to its credit, brought issues like economic inequality and Wall Street crime into the national conversation. It has, so far, succeeded beyond its greatest hopes.

It is revolutionary in its very leaderless small “d” democratic being, but has not yet made a revolution. No surprise there! There is quite a way to go.

The battle with the oligarchy as symbolized by the greedsters and fraudsters on Wall Street will go on, with or without a Park, as a form of non-violent guerilla-style class warfare, always bearing in mind that moral power can defeat physical power when it is creative, courageous, non-violent and committed for the long run.

News Dissector Danny Schechter writes the daily newsdissector.com blog. He directed the film “Plunder – The Crime of Our Time” (PlunderTheCrimeOfOurTime.com), about the financial crisis as a crime story. You may contact him at dissector@mediachannel.org.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

A Great Day in Oakland-Thoughts on the General Strike & the Unrest That Followed

There’s so much to say about Wednesday’s historic General Strike (Nov 2, 2011) in Oakland. It was the nation’s first general strike in over 65 years. It was a day where everyone was upbeat and focused. It was a day of success. It was a day in which we saw Oakland step out to the tune of tens of thousands of people to make a bold statement and raise awareness about economic disparity. It was a solid shot in the arm that the Occupy Movement needed. It was a good look, something that Oakland needed.

The goals of the day were to shut down the businesses in downtown, in particular the banks and, later that afternoon, march to the Port of Oakland, the 5th largest in the country, and shut it down as well.

Many thought this was a far-fetched dream and an impossible task. After all, there have been several attempts to do this in the recent past without a whole lot of success, but when a crowd numbering by some estimates between 15-20 thousand showed up ready to put in work, that dream became a reality. The shut down of the port lasted until the next morning where you still had hundreds of 99%ers down there blocking the gates and not letting trucks pass through. Eventually folks left at around 9 am that morning.

That night, while leaving the port, I saw numerous veterans of past movements including former Black Panther Chair Elaine Brown who was beaming with pride. Brown expressed how proud she was to see today’s younger generation rise to the occassion, take the baton and move the proverbial envelope in a significant way. A general strike being organized and pulled off within a week’s time and the port being shut down was something she’d thought would never happen, at least in her lifetime. For her seeing such a huge crowd come out to support was moving.


A Great Day in Oakland

The General Strike started out with the first of several scheduled gatherings at 9am on the corner of 14th and Broadway. When I arrived, there was already a crowd numbering in the hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or so, with speakers already on the mic explaining the goals of the day, what the General Strike was about. Traffic for several blocks up and down Broadway had been stopped and the streets closed down. Liberating that corner was the first of the day’s many victories.

The stage and loud-speaker system on 14th & Broadway was one of several locations spawning activity. Inside Oscar Grant Plaza (city hall plaza) where the General Assemblies are held there were large crowds who were engaged by dozens of other speakers and performers. There was also a number of art displays. The vibe in the air was infectious, as many could sense this was the beginning of what many felt would be an historic day. The next gatherings scheduled to take place were 12 noon and 2pm, with the last one scheduled at 5pm, when folks would march to shut down the Port of Oakland.

Throughout the day all sorts of speakers blessed the mic, speaking to pressing issues, especially how the economy was impacting them and their communities. There were heartfelt perspectives shared by various members of Black, Brown, Asian and Native communities along with students, labor and working class folks.

The list of those addressing the crowd is too long to accurately recount, but everyone from Angela Davis to former Black Panther Melvin Dixon, to labor leaders, like Clarence Thomas, Topaz DuBois and Jack Heyman, to artists like Boots Riley and Mistah Fab, were up in the mix speaking truth to power.

In addition to the economy, other topics addressed included how banks facilitated the massive numbers of foreclosures in Black, Brown and now working class communities. We learned how banks like Wells Fargo invest in immigrant detention centers and private prisons. We also heard folks speak about the current California prison hunger strike and how mass incarceration is economically benefiting stakeholders within the prison industrial complex.

We heard Iraq War vets speak to the exorbitant amounts of money used by the military to further meaningless wars and how those funds should be reinvested in our communities to improve schools. The city of Oakland closed 5 schools last week with more to come. That was a main point echoed throughout the day. Police violence that brought about the last General Strike 1934 (Bloody Thursday) . Police protected the 1% back in those days as well.

We heard folks speak passionately about the plight of farmers and how big agribusiness has been impacting the 99%. There was a lot of talk about the environment, food justice and how Monsanto has been a tyrannical business crippling small farmers and entire countries by obtaining patents for seeds and forcing everyone to buy from them.

photo: Reginald James/ Black Hour

There was lots of conversation about electoral politics, with many of the speakers making it very clear time and time again that the Occupy Movement is not a springboard for either the Republican or Democratic Party. Many of the speakers, as well as many we’ve interviewed in the crowd, had concluded that much of the leadership in both parties have been brought off and are in the pockets of Wall Street lobbyists. Elected officials were not allowed to speak via the stage yesterday and that was fine by many in attendance. No one wanted to hear a stomp speech or apologies for the way their respective parties have been complicit in propping up big banks and carrying out their agendas.

In response to Wall Street corrupting politicians, over the past couple of weeks we’ve met and heard from a number of young people here in Oakland who are quietly networking, planting seeds and gearing up to run for a number of local offices come 2012 and 2013. That has been a bright spot.

Boots Riley & Mistah Fab Address the Crowd

Throughout the day we heard local singers and rappers take the stage and speak or do remakes of popular songs where the theme was economic disparity. For, example we heard one sister redo Gloria Gaynor’s classic ‘I Will Survive‘ where she sung about the banks.. It was a beautiful thing.

Artists like Richie Rich, D-Sharp, Dwayne Wiggins, Flo, Jennifer Johns, Sellasie, Walt 427, Picaso of Living legends, Ashe, Brwn Bflo, Mistah Fab and of course Boots Riley and Cat who held down one of the stages were among the scores of artists on hand supporting the General Strike. Music played throughout the afternoon and could be heard throughout the plaza, up and down Broadway. Songs by Dead Prez and James Brown helped them became familiar voices during yesterday’s rally.

Folks sat in front of Citibank & Shut it Down

With each scheduled gathering folks would march off by the hundreds to different parts of the downtown. One group went before the Office of University California to protest fee hikes which have doubled in the past two years. Some went to the library to protest budget cuts resulting in it being shut down.

Others went to stand before the banks and demand they shut down. There was a large group that went and sat in front of Citibank. Still others went to Chase Bank while others went to Bank of America. In all those instances we heard or saw that the banks closed their doors. This was a beautiful thing.

Throughout the plaza were numerous tables with folks passing out information from a variety of organizations. If you needed help with foreclosures, legal aid, There were places set up where posters of the Occupy were being made… There was also lots of food.. Big shout out to the unions and Everett and Jones BBQ for feeding over 5 thousand people that day…The mood throughout the day was upbeat as many were happy to see so many had come together and a General strike which once seemed like an impossibility was actually taking place. Police presence in and around downtown was minimal.

What I witnessed yesterday was the ultimate town square where everyone came together and through this exercise of having an open mic on 14th and Broadway all of us were able to bear witness to each others concerns and stories..This is important to note for a couple of reasons. First, for years we’ve had folks from various communities addressing economic disparity only to be ignored or have their voices minimize and marginalized. I spoke at length about this in yesterday’s blog.. You can access it HERE

Second, this was important because it clearly showed how lazy many in the corporate media had been in terms of explaining what the Occupy Movement has been about.. Claims of it being unfocused and having no agenda was the convenient 30 second sound bite hawked vs simply explaining that financial institutions have hit large segments of the population in different ways resulting in folks coming together, comparing notes, raising awareness and trying to and figuring out the best ways to smash back on a common enemy (Wall Street Banks). This is what Nov 2 2011 spelled out and reaffirmed for many.

The Importance of the Labor and Shutting Down the Port

Long time labor leader Jack Heyman spoke to us on KPFA

Throughout the day we heard from all sorts of union folks. We got important history lessons on the labor movement from long time activists and union members like Jack Heyman of the longshoremen and Clarence Thomas of ILWU Local 10. We also got to understand why so many unions are currently under attack by 1% interests and how that would ultimately impact the folks in the crowd.

Many union members spoke to the history of the General Strikes. They talked about some of the parallels back in 1934 and today in terms of 1% interests trying to crap on the average worker.

We were given a firm understanding about the Port of Oakland and what it meant when you shut it down. We learned that for each day it’s shut down it delays goods being delivered up to a week. Three days of shut down equals 3 weeks of delay. With each day the port is shut down they lose up to $8 million dollars. With that information at hand folks got the picture. Shutting down the Port of Oakland would be directly messing with the money of some very powerful people, thus lines in the sand were being clearly drawn.

This picture was further cemented when it was explained who actually gets that $8 million and where that money is used. It was clear that the folks in economically depressed West Oakland where the port sits, or the 99% gathered yesterday at 14th and Broadway, were not main beneficiaries. Oakland rap artist Boots Riley and labor leader Clarence Thomas gave an important overview of what the day was supposed to be like on Democracy Now.

For many, the Port of Oakland was a major battle ground with long-lasting scars. Very few forgot what took place 8 years ago, April 7th 2003, when police shot rubber bullets at anti-war protestors who attempted to shut down the port. Several protesters were seriously injured. Hence, going back to the port, with all the key issues the Occupy Movement had brought up, was paramount. You can peep the video of that HERE:

By 4 pm that afternoon all sides of the plaza were packed with thousands in the streets around 14th and Broadway as folks geared up for the march to shut down the Port of Oakland. The first wave of people left and headed down to the Port of Oakland. That’s the image that many of local news stations showed. They said this was about 7 thousand, but most protesters feel this was a deliberate and gross under counting.

By 5pm another huge crowd had gathered, even larger then the first, being that it had been announced for the past week that the Port March would start at that time. By the time you got down to the Port, there were folks for as far as the eye could see. From my own estimation the crowd was easily over 15k and maybe more. It was by far one of the largest gatherings I had seen in Oakland and one of the largest we’ve seen in the Bay Area in a long time.

It was a sea of people that took up both sides of the bridge/overpass leading to the port that would not stop. For many seeing this huge turnout was the crowning jewel to what had been a great day and an eventful week that saw the Occupy Movement rebound from a night of chaos and police repression just a week earlier. When word got out that the Port had been shut down, everyone was excited. Cars honked, trucks honked… Many truckers came and used their vehicles to help block port entrances so no one could enter

The Violence and the Lessons behind It

Moments before masked man w/ Hammer Breaks Bank window photo: Reginald James/Black Hour

As mentioned earlier, throughout the day there were numerous marches with the intention of shutting down banks and other businesses that were part of the 1% and bringing awareness to troubled social programs and services hard hit by the economy. It was during one of these marches (the March Against Capitalism) that we got word of the first acts of vandalism.

We heard and later saw video of a group of masked men dressed in black, spray painting the word “Strike” across the front of Whole Foods grocery store. Later on these same masked men broke the windows to Wells Fargo and Chase and tagged the walls. This enraged many on were on the scene, not because they felt sorry for the banks who would and did quickly repair the damage, but because they felt that what took place was a deliberate attempt to undermine what the General Strike was about. They also felt acts of vandalism were also gonna further soil the city’s reputation and give light to the stereotype of us being a crime ridden city.

Bank window broken photo: Reginald James/ Black Hour

In addition, for the past week the police had kept their distance, thus many felt comfortable in attending activities around the General Strike. You had families with kids. You had many who were undocumented who were out and about, who suddenly had their safety and well-being put into jeopardy by a handful of folks who apparently had no regard for what the Occupy Oakland General Assembly had called for, which was demonstrations free of vandalism.

Many stepped to the vandals, urging them to stop. A couple even had physical confrontations. Here’s a video of the confrontation at Whole Foods:


Some have attempted to explain this away by saying Whole Foods was vandalized because the management had threatened to fire workers if they took off to attend the General Strike. Others were saying that the violence and vandalism is small potatoes compared to the economic violence done by the big banks, big corporations and their cronies.

As one gentleman remarked upon hearing the news: “Yes, windows got broke, but Wells Fargo and Bank of America broke hearts, broke the economy and on top of that stole people’s homes… A window breaker will go to jail while a CEO who swindles us out of our homes and billions of dollars is free and might even be sitting at the highest levels of government”.

In short F$%K a Bank..

There’s not too many who would argue with that sentiment and many didn’t as the day continued on and we saw a successful shut down of the port. But at the same time many weren’t buying the line that violence was necessary.

After the march to the port, many went home and retired for the night only to wake up the next morning to discover that Occupy Oakland made national news. Sadly, it was not for the success of the General Strike or the shut down of the port, but for vandalism and violence.

Many waking up to the news of overnight violence were stunned, angry, and dismayed. Damn near every corporate news outlet was on the scene, including the NY based Today Show, who had pretty much ignored Occupy Oakland in the past, but this morning they had a reporter on the scene doing live coverage. Blaring across everyone’s screens wasn’t 20k people closing down the 5th largest port in the country, it was masked men wearing all Black setting fires in the middle of the street and destroying local businesses.

Tully's is right next to occupy oakland and was a supporter of the movement.. Many protesters were extremely upset when her shop was vandalized.

Many of shops hit were ones friendly and supportive of Occupy Oakland, including Tully’s Coffee on 14th and Broadway who had her windows smashed. Spray paint marred damn near every building around the plaza and up

and down Broadway. Oakland police who had had kept their distance from Occupy Oakland for the past few days showed up in full riot gear, shooting tear gas and flash grenades. Much of the violence took place around 2 am, and by 4 am, when over 100 people were arrested, the overwhelming majority of those sent to jail (75% ) were from out-of-town.

In the aftermath of the violence, many were left with a very clear lesson as to what Occupy Oakland and the Occupy Movement in general is up against. Folks know beyond a shadow of a doubt that any and all attempts will be made to marginalize, discredit and ultimately erase any success stories this movement has.

When this movement does well or accomplishes a goal, one should expect there will be some sort of incident to sabotage things. On the heels of that incident will be gaggle of corporate reporters on hand complete with satellite trucks ready to convey any and all dirty details they can dig up. The end game is to spark fear and plant seeds of doubt.

Huge crowds coming out to shut down the Port of Oakland was lost to the deliberate destruction of local businesses

As I noted in the past, this is a war being fought on many fronts. Information, News Narratives and PR are 3 of them.Occupy Oakland’s shutting down the Port and having a large turnout for a General Strike was major. It was a huge smack in the face to the 1% who have been doing everything they could to dismiss the Occupy Movement. Unfortunately for the 1%, what took place on November 2nd was something you could not ignore.

If that wasn’t enough, on the same day we shut down the port of Oakland, Occupy Wall Street held a People’s Tribunal in Zuccotti Park where they found Goldman Sachs guilty. Folks from OWS directly confronted executives from Goldman Sachs where they handed them the guilty verdict.

Occupy Oakland helped clean up and stood by broken windows to help deter further damage by those bent on destroying the Occupy Movement

These activities were supposed to be the main conversation. Victories on both coasts for the Occupy Movement with everyone gearing up for Bank Transfer Day on Saturday Nov 5th. I guess from the stand point of the 1% Financial Bankers, the momentum had to be slowed down.

That slowdown was gonna come in the form of broken windows and all out vandalism. This was something Occupy Oakland had avoided for 3 weeks since they first set up shop. Even during the police melee from the other week with all the flash bombs and tear gas, no one ran around busting windows. To see this happening on the night of big success is more than obvious.

So as frustrating and dismaying as it was, we all know what this was about — an attempt to crush the spirit. We’ve all seen this film before…most recently in Cairo, Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Egyptians from the Arab Spring Standing Guard protecting their Museum from Police masquerading as looters

If folks recall, days after the protest began, out of the blue ‘some people’ decided to go loot the national Egyptian Museum. Initially our corporate media tried to blame the protesters in Tahir Square. They were quick to sour on them and attach demeaning labels to them. The protesters in Egypt realized what was happening, quickly regrouped, stood side by side locking arms to guard the museum. Later it was discovered that it was agents working for Mubark’s secret police thugs, who were attempting to sway world wide opinion by posing as looters.

Could that have been the case here in Oakland? After all, it’s an an age-old tactic that even Stevie Wonder could see from a distance. It happens all over within various movements by those desperate to hold onto power. From the days of Cointel-Pro to now in the age of increased surveillance and the Patriot Act, how could one NOT draw such conclusions when the actions taken are destructive?

Allies or Functionaries for the 1%?? photo Reginald James/ Black Hour

It’s good that folks from Occupy Oakland responded immediately to the carnage by helping clean up the damage and guarding shops that had broken windows, to prevent looting. Such gestures have been uplifting and underscore the resilience that people in this city have…

Nov 2 2011 we saw tens of thousands of people from all walks of life shut down the Port of Oakland costing those in power, millions of dollars and we have folks breaking the windows of local businesses in Oakland of all places.. Think on that for a minute..Why not bring that ruckus to the doorsteps of the bankers who’ve wrecked havoc on us? Aptos? Hillsdale? Menlo Park?

The day is coming where it’s not gonna be so easy to find folks to be agents for the 1%. Until then lets recognize things for what they are.. Call a spade a spade or in this case, call a guy busting out windows of local businesses wearing all black- A provocateur- perhaps a hired goon to be an ally to the 1%. He’s the Oakland style version of the white shirted police we see on Wall Street..

by Davey D

Let’s Not Forget What Has Caused Oakland’s General Strike

Today is Nov 2 2011… It’s the day of a General Strike here in Oakland, California. Hopefully it’s a day that we’ll look back on years from now and see as a watershed moment in history. Hopefully it’ll be a day that we look back upon and see as a crucial turning point in our quest for social and economic justice.

As folks are gearing up to head on down to Oscar Grant Plaza on 14th and Broadway (City Hall)in downtown Oakland, I hope we don’t lose sight of some of the key reasons why a General Strike and the Occupy Movement in general is happening. After all, in the age of Mass Distractions, it’s easy to get caught up in personalities, criticizing pundits and the antics of others who are eager to serve as functionaries and lap dogs for the 1%.

It’s easy to get caught up in debates fostered by corporate media and whatever vicious spin in their hawking. Three weeks ago they were saying Occupy Oakland was out-of-town Anarchists. Next they were saying Occupy Oakland was a health hazard. This week they are claiming small businesses are being hurt by Occupy Oakland. Tomorrow they’ll have something else for us to jabber about.. It’s not about corporate media spin. It’s about the 1% and the policies that spin seeks to serve.

It’s not about Oakland Police and their recent bizarre open letter from police union members where they claim to be confused and insist they are part of the 99%. Yes, we can not overlook the years of violence the police department has unleashed on Black and Brown communities pushing for change. That needs to stop and folks held accountable. With that in mind, lets not forget that Occupy like any other movement doesn’t start and stop with the police. Like their corporate media brethren, their heinous actions are rooted in policy reflective of an agenda and desires of the 1%. Police at the end of the day are pawns-modern day overseers who have no extended their reign of terror outside the hood and into other communities where economic hardship is present.

It’s not about Mayor Jean Quan or the city council and their off kilter decisions. It’s about the people behind them who bankrolled them.

It’s not even about the space that Occupy Oakland reclaimed. Its symbolic, like putting flag in the sand. It’s a space where we can start to discuss what needs to be done and how. It’s a place where we might debate but at the end of the day we can’t forget that this is about the nation’s most powerful banks, financial institutions and corporations and their greed, viciousness and dehumanizing behavior.

There’d be no tents on Wall Street or in the plaza had it not been for banks getting bailed out after tanking the economy and causing undue hardship for millions of people all over the world.

There’d be no tents in front of city hall if we didn’t have bailed out banks turning around in the middle of a deep recession and handing out obscene bonuses to a handful of gleeful, uncaring employees while many of us were harshly penalized for the smallest of infractions like being a day late in paying our car notes, mortgage or credit card bills..

How many of us got hit with outrageous $30-40 late fees for being a couple of days late on a credit card bill? How many saw interest rates skyrocket on car notes or mortgages when being a month behind late on payments?

Many of us through no fault of our own saw our work hours shrink, 401ks disappear, our jobs shipped overseas and our pay checks cut-some by as much as 20%. At the same time we saw prices rise dramatically from food to rent to bridge tolls.. and while all this was going down and people struggled, we were assaulted by arrogant media pundits and politicos in the pockets of big banks, telling us we ‘should blame ourselves’ for whatever economic hardships we were experiencing. It was this type of callousness that eventually enraged people enough to finally take it to the streets to demand change.

Lastly, there’d be no tents in the plaza if more of us paid attention and took seriously the plight of the millions of poor people already trying to survive in this country as opposed to marginalizing, ignoring and demonizing them when the so called ‘good times’ were rolling. We have to own up to a few things..We can’t forget that once upon a time not too long ago, many of us responded with indifference and cheered along when cutbacks to the social safety nets were downsized under the guise of Welfare Reform and other policies that left folks out in the cold. We believed the stereotype and hype of the ‘Welfare Queen’ living off the dole’ while ignoring the very real scenario of corporate welfare kings.

Many of us cheered along when we saw the labor movement get pummeled. We thought that their insistence on getting paid was standing in the way of us getting at cheap goods and services. Many of us didn’t seem to mind when companies started shipping factory jobs overseas to take advantage of child labor and draconian sweat shops where folks got a a dollar a day. For us, the bottom line was as long as we got new basketball shoes and flat screen TVs at a cheap price. The least of our concerns was the economic exploitation in Third World countries being done in our name.

Many of us ignored the plight of students who saw college and university fees skyrocket as they were strongly directed to take out bank loans that in many cases exceeded what they would pay for houses. Today students owe more than a trillion dollars in loan debt with no real relief in sight. This amounts for many to a bill of $400-500 a month for the next 15-20 years.. Too many of us who escaped huge student loan debt, looked at the college degrees on our walls and kept it moving, not once looking back or being concerned even when tens of thousands of students started doing nation wide walkouts to bring attention to the loan scam and demand change. If anything many of us got haughty, laughed out loud and called college students lazy. We told them to get over it..

As we embark upon today’s General Strike let’s not forget the shoulders we’re standing on..Economic hardship may be new for many of us, but it’s generations deep for millions more, meaning we can’t easily explain it away as this simply being a few folks unwilling to get off their asses and put in work.

What we’re dealing with is systemic and we should never lose sight of that..We should always remember, the that change we seek comes only when those at the bottom of the economic totem pole get economic parity. Anything less is a band-aid that’ll will eventually unravel and put us back on square one. It’s important as we seek change that we not become as heartless and unforgiving in our outlook and approach as the people and institutions we are protesting. Let our actions at today’s General Strike reflect a desire for long-lasting systemic change rooted in the love we have for our community and people. Also lets not forget this Saturday November 5th is Bank Transfer Day.. We taking our money out of these big banks and reinvesting it elsewhere..

By Davey D