When Do We Call a Celebration a Riot? The SF Giants Win the World Series

When the final pitch was thrown and a strike out ensued, resulting in the San Francisco Giants once again becoming World Series champs, I was tempted to hop in my car and cross the bridge like I did 2 years ago to celebrate with the tens of thousands who were already out and about at local bars or at the Civic Center watching the game on a Jumbotron.

Everyone likes a winner and even more people like the celebrations and festivities that come along with winning. Everyone was upbeat last night and San Francisco was on Fire… It was on fire emotionally speaking, but within an hour of the Giants winning SF literally was on fire.. All over the city bonfires were being lit.. One was downtown on Market street. Another was on 19th and Mission. Another on 23rd and Mission.. Still another was near the police station on 16th and Valencia which was the scene of raucous Occupy protest a few weeks ago.. With each bonfire came people by the hundreds and wasn’t long before folks were tossing in everything they could get their hands on, couches, card board paint cans and other flammable which caused loud bomb-like explosions. Eventually a bus was lit on fire around 3rd and Market in the heart of downtown. We also saw a security truck flipped over with the driver in it..he got out unharmed.

This is the SF Chronicle headline..to describe last night’s vandalism

As each fire was lit and reported on by local newscasts, I couldn’t help but note the tone and wording used to describe the scene. We didn’t hear words like anarchist, outside agitators or thugs to describe those committing wanton acts of vandalism. Instead what we heard was local news outlets like NBC described what was happening as ‘instant street parties’. Others like ABC talked about how exuberant fans and overly joyous fans were celebrating in front of bonfires.

Reporters would utter the word vandalism in the most casual tone and downplay the smashing of bank and storefront windows, crowds chanting ‘F– Tha Police and cars being burned or flipped. The main focus by these local news outlets was about highlighting the excitement around this world series win.

It was hard not to contrast the sanitizing words used to described the destruction happening all over the city of San Francisco with how many of those same news outlets described Occupy, Oscar Grant and anti-war protests where far less damage and mayhem was caused. It was hard not to contrast the way many of those media outlets described spirited celebrations in neighboring Oakland ten years ago (2003) after the Raiders won the AFC Championship.

At that time, one car was flipped over on International Blvd and burned and the entire city was described as one that was in turmoil ‘out of control ‘and the scene of a riot. If you don’t believe me take a look at the picture that ran in the same SF Chronicle where the headline this morning reads ‘SF Giant fans Delirious With Joy‘. Again this is in spite of the fact that celebrating fans burned a city bus in the middle of downtown on top of flipping a car.. As you can see the SF Chronicle headline described the much smaller Oakland celebrations in much more stark ominous tones..using words like ‘Raider Rage‘ and ‘Street Mayhem‘.

This was the scene last night on Market street.. At the time this security truck was flipped over local news outlets described it as ‘over joyous fans celebrating and getting a little out of hand’.

We could spend more time making similar comparisons to the words used to describe more recent events especially since both Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF had one year anniversaries. If you look at the coverage of given to occupy you heard news casters talk about the menacing Black Bloc and how everyone should board up their windows and be prepared. As one Facebook poster jokingly noted on my page last night, its funny that media didn’t warn businesses to watch out for the marauding bands of Orange and Black bloc folks

Even the police when interviewed held measured tones. On ABC news, one of the SF Police captains talked about how his officers were doing all they could to keep everyone safe and the celebration going. In fact at one point, officers on motorcycles came to 19th and Mission while the bonfire was going and gently moved the crowd back vs outright dispersing them.

On one of the live streams monitoring the stuff on Market street, you saw Giant fans getting all up in the face of SFPD talking smack. The police exercised lots of patience not arresting folks or anything like that..Eventually they gave dispersal orders, but the demeanor and overall tone taken was way different from when people were out marching against banks and foreclosures or when folks were protesting the shooting deaths of Kenneth Harding or Charles Hill. The tone taken by SFPD was much harsher as protestors were demonized before they even started. The police message was one of immediate containment, shut down and dispersal. If folks recall we saw over 120 people arrested during an Oscar Grant protest where no bonfires or windows were broken.. We saw over 400 people arrested during an Occupy protest here in the Bay w/ no bon fires. Last night we saw SFPD literally make a walk way to one of the bon fires people lit in celebration of the Giants winning. Throughout most of the evening hardly anyone was arrested, before the night was over close to 40 people were arrested by SFPD.

Imagine if this was an Occupy protest.. would the news outlets reporting this use such sanitizing words?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing all this out because I want to see a police state nor am I condoning vandalism.. I’m also not naive, I realize that after most sports wins there are crazy celebrations that take place all over the world.

It was just last year we had folks going nuts in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup was won. I attended UC Berkeley and recall after damn near every Big Game between Cal and Stanford folks went nuts busting windows and setting fires.Heck I recall how folks flipped car and set fires after Penn Sate coach Joe Paterno was fired..

What I do want people to note is how and when media outlets and the police themselves turn up the ‘fear and danger’ ratchets and when they don’t . I want people to ask themselves and the people doing the reporting why they take particular tones. Last night I tweeted several requests to Bay Area ABC News publicly asking them what do they consider the difference between a riot and a celebration? I never got a response. What I concluded is they and other news outlets are quite deliberate in the tone that they set . More often than not that tone is attached to a political and economic agenda.

This is a scene from an Occupy Oakland demonstration. here the words anarchist, black bloc and outside agitators were used to describe the scene before police moved in in full riot gear w/ weapons drawn.

San Francisco is a tourist city and image is everything if it expects to attract visitors and businesses. The result of this is all hands are on deck to keep a smiling face on what many would consider unacceptable and outrageously dangerous conditions. Hence a riot in San Francisco when done by a whiter and more affluent crowd is just a few ‘delirious with joy fans celebrating a bit too hard‘. The police are restrained and they go all out to ‘protect and serve..

When its a protest challenging the police, unfair economic conditions or a mostly Black and Brown fan base in a city like Oakland ‘expressing their joy, than ‘celebrations‘ turn in ‘street mayhem over run by thugs‘.. Protestors are tarred as out of control anarchists etc. Police are no longer restrained but instead use the large crowds as an excuse to test out new weaponry and crowd control maneuvers. Its social engineering at its best..

Something to think about as we gear up for a big parade to celebrate the San Francisco Giants being World Series champs once again…

written by Davey D

The scene on 19th and Mission Last night after the Giants won and people began ‘celebrating photo: Jill Filipovic

The Activism Entry Point: Critiquing The Cancer in Occupy Debate

Longtime Berkeley activist Joseph Anderson weighs in on the ongoing debate around Occupy Oakland on the issue of diversity of tactics and the use of BlackBloc style tactics. He weighs in on the recent debate between Chris Hedges and Occupy oakland organizer Kristof Lopaur

Well, by now everyone in the Occupy movement is hotly debating “nonviolence” vs. “diversity of tactics”, as recently so in, “Chris Hedges and Kristof Lopaur of Occupy Oakland debate black bloc, militancy and tactics,” February 8, 2012, on KPFA in Berkeley, California. 

Chris Hedges

Both Lopaur and Hedges made some critically weak, flawed, at times somewhat disingenuous or self-contradictory and, in Lopaur’s case, often specious arguments in their radio debate. This so, even though I politically agree with Hedges, and although Hedges’ recent commentary, “The Cancer in Occupy,” seemed poorly supported journalistically. But, Hedges is dead on about, ‘Go do violence under your own name, not the Occupy movement’s.’

Hedges would have been better off just writing his opinion, presented analytically, but he deserves great credit for using his stature to get an “Anarchist”-suppressed, but mortally important, debate firmly out in the open and over progressive airwaves. Let me say that both of them have respectively done very good progressive work.

This is my partial, but most important, analytical response to Kristof Lopaur’s (and those he represents) support for Black Bloc, or otherwise, “diversity of tactics” in the Occupy Movement. My main point: Occupy Oakland, and the Occupy movement, cannot have both a diversity of people and a “diversity of tactics” at this time – and the movement can’t shortcut the process of attaining, and retaining, the first by jumping to the second. 

Kristof Lopaur

As most Occupy activists know by now, “diversity of tactics” is primarily, so-called, “Anarchist”/Black Bloc code phrase euphemism for advocating autonomous vandalism and gratuitous property destruction (against even small businesses and movement-sympathetic owners or managers) and recently a program of regular, police confrontation marches (lately toned down). 

However, all these kinds of actions – either disconnected from, transiently tangential to, or occurring long after the main events – actually involve a very tiny percentage of marchers or limited instances; nevertheless, when especially played up by the media, the public are quite unsympathetic and even hostile to them. Among the  latest instances were the vandalism at, followed by the American flag-burning on the very steps of, City Hall. 

At the last large march, on January 28, corrugated metal or long wooden ‘battle shields’ were futilely deployed at the front line ostensibly to protect other marchers – dramatic but ineffective actions – but the TV news visuals made it appear from a distance as if their true purpose was aggressive. (On TV or in news photos, from a distance, you couldn’t necessarily see the peace signs on the shields, a mixed visual anyway.) 

When the public sees these visuals, they can easily be manipulated by the police, mayor and media into believing virtually any lies or distortions about Occupy Oakland events. This enables the media – portraying out-of-chronology or even geographically unrelated, exaggerated, TV news video repetitions of vandalism (including graffiti defacings) – to easily convince the public that there was “widespread violence,” thus providing a pretext to justify the indiscrminate police beatings and torturously drawn-out mass arrests (using bitingly cinched plastic wire handcuffs) that took place long before any vandalism occurred. On the January 28 march, *409* marchers were arrested – virtually all of them guilty of only being “kettled” by the cops!

But, there has always been opposition within Occupy Oakland to violence (as commonly understood). That opposition within understands, in addition to any possible violence (or “diversity of tactics”) from within an Occupy, the ability of the police, and ultimately the 1%, to exploit such violence by even inspiring or instigating it (especially, childish, indiscriminate or politically unintelligible acts). Thus, this also leaves an Occupy vulnerable and open to police agent provocateur actions that create alienation within the movement or a huge public opinion backlash against it – which is, after all, exactly what provocateur work is meant to accomplish!: discredit the movement, scare people from joining it, and thus divide the working public. 

Highly sectarian leftist militant ideologues constantly show that they don’t even know how to relate to, or verbally and, just as importantly, visually communicate with ordinary people (by comparison, right-wing organizers understand this far better). Very few people are ready to jump directly from political inactivity (except merely voting) straight to hardcore militant, ‘armed,’ so-called, ‘revolutionary’ action, as Lopaur apparently advocates – let alone to start The Worldwide Armed Revolution To Overthrow Global Capitalism and Western Imperialism – today! 

But, political movements not only open to, but enthusiastically calling on, the general public to join need to first build up mass numbers – a diversity of people – before they can (as economic and political times get much more dire, urgent and, otherwise, essentially futureless, as in Greece) then support various forms of growing militancy for fundamental, perhaps even radical, change. 

This could be militancy, like greater direct mass action, like general strikes, or tens of thousands of people shutting down a major port or other critical centers, nodes or points of capitalist commerce or production. This so, even then not necessarily engaging in violence, but rather engaging people power – mass action’s greatest resource – to pursue actions which are not only militant but hugely popular! The marchers acclaimed and the public didn’t scorn the huge banner, “DEATH TO CAPITALISM!!,” boldly strung across the intersection of Oakland City Center during the massive Oakland “General Strike” rally there. 

Actually, I never considered social, global and economic justice and human rights to be a morally “militant” or “radical” cause; to me, mass oppression, systematic injustice, violating people’s human rights, the patriarchal control of women, legalized state murder, or neo-/colonial theft of another people’s land, is what’s militant and radical.

But, those mass numbers for mass actions will only continue to build up – and be retained – if there is an entry point mass movement, even if nonviolently militant, that many political activism newcomers feel relatively safe in joining and participating with in mass direct actions – and where these newcomers feel they can reasonably trust the judgements of the organizers. 

I couldn’t risk the further judgement of those, especially organizers, in Occupy Oakland who have an absolute ideological stranglehold against ANY  “nonviolence” resolution. That stranglehold failed to realize that such a resolution was critical to Occupy Oakland’s actions, public perception and success: to define itself  based on nonviolence regardless of the actions of others. 

A generous but failed resolution, called a “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’,” that I and others presented, was critical, so that the mayor, the chief-of-police, the chamber of commerce, and the mainstream media couldn’t repeatedly blame and try to smear Occupy Oakland for increasing crime and for every act of violence that occured literally anywhere in Oakland, as though crime had never been happening in this big city before. Their #1 weapon is to directly associate Occupy Oakland with violence.

In fact, downtown Oakland felt a lot safer at the time, instead of steadily and ominously semi-deserted at night, while the police chief and the mayor hid  the following information: except for, then and afterwards, a huge spike in violence in downtown Oakland by the police, crime in Oakland actually dropped by 20% during the Occupy Oakland encampment.

The now national Occupy movement, acting as it began at this stage of great public disaffection with the economic and political state of affairs, even against the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’, duopolistic, corporatist and militaristic political parties, starts as just such an entry point – especially with highly visible, physical, citizen centers, the Occupy encampments themselves. There was a place people could go to politically talk to people 24 hours a day, create a community oriented to human needs, and even creatively organize direct mass actions. 

OWS began a mass, public, political, citizens’ civic engagement and organizing hub for many ordinary, but finally ‘had-it,’ people who realize that the current economic and political system is not serving “us” – not serving human needs (the 99%, especially of the world), but rather corporate greed (the 1%). A diversity of people were interacting and even living with a diversity of people !

Given this groundswell ferment, Occupy movement activists should be most concerned with building up that level of engagement and participation – gaining a diversity of people – rather than ideologically pushing autonomous “diversity of tactics,” an “Anarchist”/ Black Bloc agenda to jump-start and lead “The Revolution!” And “autonomous” means too few people, or individuals, too unaccountable, deciding too important decisions, with too critical consequences for us all: sounds like the system of government we have now! The consequences on the rest of us are not “autonomous.”

The ideological agenda, imposed on the movement, would contain the seeds of the movement’s own destruction. Or, at least the destruction of Occupy Oakland as a movement: it could otherwise survive paramilitarized police excesses and brazen brutality –  exposing that the city can come up with millions of dollars for that and, perhaps, a million more in the always almost inevitable legal costs negotiating lawsuits for committing egregious bodily injuries (or worse) and un-Constitutional mass arrests. 

In order to achieve a diversity of people, there has to be at least one general mass movement that is an entry point  for people to get involved in the original goals of OWS, including demanding an alternative to the political and even economic system. But, Kristof Lapaur and the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc want this entry point movement to be one that is not committed to nonviolence (as commonly understood, not ideologically hairsplit), but indeed advocates violence (or whatever Kristof and the parochial ideologues ideologically want to call it) from the start! 

The “Anarchists”/Black Bloc (and Kristof) really seem to want to turn the Occupy movement into some kind of ‘armed’ guerrilla (or, at least, Black Bloc) movement: “We have to learn how to move cohesively through the streets, to take offensive [it originally said "attack"] and defensive initiatives…” (Pgh. 7, Statement of the OO Move-In Cmte, reading like all sanguine PR releases, talking about everything but the critical problem: it never once mentioned continuing, headline-stealing, public-alienating vandalism or, lastly, flag burning).

Lately, at certain, especially, much smaller, weekly, nighttime, “F The Police!,” marches, organizers and leading participants would appear to engage in regular passive-aggressive confrontations (again, recently toned down) with the police. They played cat-&-mouse, with the march aimlessly winding over the entire downtown area and, often, surrounding neighborhoods, with no particular, practical goal. A weekly schedule of nighttime, traffic-snarling, merchants-angering exercise of directly confronting the cops – however much they do deserve it – in the streets of Oakland might make us – often brutalized by the police – feel good, but begins to lose its message, displaces that of the Occupy movement, and confuses the general public, turned off, after a while.

What the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc contingent within Occupy Oakland has really done is, too often, snatch movement dismay or public anger from the jaws of complete victory, or ‘would-be’ victory. (Like, the January 28, “Move-In” march, another relatively large, peaceful [except for the police], festive turnout, showing sustained interest, even if, with the planners’ methods, an ill-considered objective, Occupying the mammoth Kaiser Auditorium.) That contingent is actually ‘doing the work of the 1%‘ by subsequently generating: 

(a) negative TV news video headlines and great public disappointment (over indiscriminate downtown vandalism, naturally played up and generalized by the TV media), after an otherwise unimaginably successful day of the Oakland General Strike rally and, respectively, two massively huge nonviolent port shutdowns by up to 50,000 people, with the, otherwise, overwhelming support of a public that was awed, deeply moved, and morally with us; 

(b) later, even more negative TV news video headlines (distracting the public from even more OPD excesses and brutality that otherwise would have been the headlines) and a public backlash (after city hall vandalism and American flag-burning on its very steps), instead of the same overwhelming public sympathy that UC Berkeley and Davis students and academics – who sustained the moral high ground – when they suffered brazen police brutality (the only TV news headline videos available then, because the students didn’t ‘cooperate’ with the mainstream media’s penchant exaggerations of, hypothetically, any student violence);

Given the above, how is the ordinary person – who doesn’t want to directly provoke, goad or engage in weekly, nighttime, mock, let alone any real, streetfighting against the police, who doesn’t want to advocate, condone, or physically associate with vandalism and gratuitous property destruction in the streets of their city (let alone flag-burning and accusations of destroying children’s art at City Hall), who doesn’t want to be a part of that particular kind of group or movement, and who doesn’t know what possible escalation of violence to expect next from such a group – supposed to feel comfortable (or even physically or legally safe) participating in such a movement? 

How do self-indulgent Black Bloc advocates compare smashing a few local business windows, setting a couple of overturned dumpsters on fire, or burning the flag for a moment, back in downtown Oakland, to, instead, a major port shutdown by 50,000 peaceful marchers for miles!? And what do you think the TV news would lead with?: “Violence again from Occupy Oakland…!” But, the greatest successes of Occupy Oakland have always been nonviolently achieved.

Under “diversity of tactics,” would an ordinary person want their employer and workplace, their church, synagogue or mosque (especially given state surveillance or criminal entrapment against Muslims), or any other social institutions to which they belong, to find out – let alone their friends and neighbors find out – that that they are actually a participant in such a movement? That kind of movement is going to alienate most people – the very kind the organizers claim they want to attract. But, I have my doubts about that claim, to hear those parochial ideologues at Occupy Oakland, including Kristof, who smack more of insular, elite vanguardism.

Without any safe entry point mass movement for newcomers to join, the movement, especially the Occupy Oakland movement, will stagnate, dwindle down, and turn into just another politically irrelevant, small, narrow group of ideological true believers and such buzzflies, incapable of any unsuppressed, true, open self-examination and, thus, who, themselves, will never succeed in meaningfully changing anything in society. 

Or, as one veteran activist anguishedly said to me, “It’s sad to think that this could be just another promising [but illusory] burst of energy that’s just going to wither away with sharp dissension [and regularly alienatingly controversy that fatigues people's souls and steals the main goals and successes] and flagging interest.” Like, ‘Oh, no…, those people again…

written by Joseph Anderson

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FYI: for copy of “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’,” November 20, 2011; Ref. under OccupyOakland.org, Open Forum tab, Discussion, “Did DOT Pass GA?,” February 7, 2012; by Joseph Anderson, February 8, 2012: “Nonviolence” resolution proposal presented to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly…

Are Blac Block & Diversity of Tactics Hurting or Helping the Occupy Movement?

Are those who employ Blac Block tactics Hurting or Helping? Photo credit: Black Hour

Ever since the November 2 Oakland General Strike which brought out tens of thousands of people culminating in the shut down of the Port of Oakland, folks within the Occupy Movement have been talking about the usefulness of Blac Bloc style tactics.. In Oakland the debate was full steam and contentious around an issue called ‘diversity of tactics’ . This was the result of the disastrous outcome to a successful General Strike, when a group under the guise of diversity of tactics attempted to take over an abandoned building ran into police who pulled no punches. The end result was broken windows, fires in the streets, local businesses looted and graffiti all over downtown. The damage was courtesy of those who were initially and erroneously labeled ‘The Blac Block’.  Since then many of us have come to learn Blac Block is a tactic not a group or organization. We also know that its not the exclusive domain or tactic of folks who identify themselves as anarchists.

With that in mind, the tactic of breaking windows and kicking up dust to make a point is one that is being fiercely debated within and outside the Occupy Movement.  Some are saying if it wasn’t for the aggressive tactics, people would remain docile.. The movement would be ignore. Others are are emphatically claiming that the aggressive tactics are hurting the movement..  Below are two articles that address this issue…

The first is from veteran journalist and former NY Times columnist Chris Hedges... Its a stinging rebuke of those he says are associated with the ‘Blac Block.. He called it a Cancer of the Occupy Movement. It initially appeared in Truth Dig…

The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.

Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.

Continue reading this article at:  Truth Dig

The next article is a slamming response to Chris Hedges article by Don Gato. Its a titled:  To Be Fair, He is A Journalist: A short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc …Among the things that stand out is the author correcting the blatant mislabeling Blac Block/ Anarchist etc…Its also noted that in Hedges critique he never once mentioned the over the top brutality delivered by OPD on unarmed peaceful demonstrators..

Here’s some of what Don Gato wrote…

First, we need to clear up some definitional problems. Now, as a journalist, I really don’t expect Hedges to be able to “research,”—it does seem to go against the prime directives of the profession, but let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as “The Black Bloc movement.” The black bloc is a tactic. It’s also not just a tactic used by anarchists, so “black bloc anarchists” is a bit of a misnomer—particularly because Hedges doesn’t know the identities of the people under those sexy, black masks. In fact, it was autonomists in the 80s who came up with the (often quite brilliant) idea in Germany. Protecting themselves against the repression of what Hedges calls “the security and surveillance state,” squatters, protesters, and other rabble rousers would dress in all black, covering up tattoos, their faces, and any other identifying features so they could act against this miserable world and, with some smarts and a sharp style, not get pinched by the pigs. This was true of resisters who were protecting marches (because the state never needs an excuse to incite violence and police are wont to riot and attack people), destroying property, or sometimes just marching en masse. That is, the black bloc has all kinds of uses. And in Oakland, where Hedges seems particularly upset by people actually having the gall to defend themselves against insane violent police thugs instead of just sit there idly by getting beaten, on Move-In Day the bloc looked mostly defensive—shielding themselves and other protesters from flash grenades and police mob violence with make-shift shields (and even one armchair). So, to be clear: The black bloc is a tactic used by lots of people, not just anarchists, and it has all kinds of uses. It’s not a “movement.”

We urge folks to read the article in its entirety as its very insightful at: Facing Reality

Another article of interests that responds to Chris Hedges is one written by Diane Gee its titled: Perspectives on Hedges Cancer in Occupy… She pens the following:

Other than ONE window and one Flag, which mind you, is property damage not violence per se; not one act of violence has been recorded by Occupy or the Black Bloc he wishes to malign that has not been the result of DEFENSIVE maneuvers.  When attacked?  They have thrown a few stones, have tossed back a few tear gas canisters; mostly what these young men and women have done is offer their bodies up as a defense line, and taken the hits so that the weaker are saved: the women, children, old people may run to safety while they defend them with meager trash can shields.

The injuries and unfair arrests, the abuses of law by the Police however, have been widespread, vast, recorded, and yet barely spoken to by the MSM.

Yet?  To Hedges?  These few acts of defiance by angry young men are enough to bring the movement itself to ruination.  Let us not forget that since the beginning of time it is always the elders who cool the heated blood of the youth and try and direct their tactics to a more effective use of their energies.  Old warriors know when to wait.  In some ways, though?  It is good for the powers that be to know, via a small warning shot of a broken window or burned flag, that we are deadly serious.  There has been no wide-scale violence except that done by the Police.  There have been no riots or burning cities.  No 1%er or defender of the 1% have been killed.

What Hedges has done here, presumably without intent, is work to divide Occupy.

Today many of us woke up to seeing a video posted by folks from Anonymous warning those who employ Blac Block to chill out..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LD8UohyYPWA

Let Us know your thoughts on all this??

Editorial: Should We Occupy or Decolonize?

Here’s some thoughts to the debate around the use of term Occupy vs Decolonize that’s been taking place at some of the Occupy sites Most recently here in Oakland.

The term ‘Occupy‘ is a loaded word that has long been problematic in many communities of color. To put it simply many have long felt they have been the victims of Occupation…. Those of Native background understand that Occupy has led to genocide. During the Civil Rights and Black Power struggles of the past we’ve heard term Occupy as one that rallied people together..This was especially true with the Black Panthers who noted that the police were ‘occupying forces in our community….With all that being said, in the end, one can see why there’s been a push for name change..

On the flip side, many feel that this a movement that is growing and folks know the name Occupy..Like it or not, its an identifiably brand now. From here to South Africa there are over 1300 Occupy Movement sites and damn near all including the ones in South Africa use the term ‘Occupy’.. The question arises why change the name midstream?

The attempt of those in the Occupy Movement was not to use any term that would be incendiary… If anything the term was used to signify reclaiming space, taken over by the 1%… In the case of Wall Street, it was recognizing that those financial institutions had been cut off to the 99% and hence there was a need to ‘Occupy’ that space in all dimensions..

In a recent discussion someone once noted that we have long taken terms once offensive and changed the meaning, why can’t the same be applied to Occupy. In the past folks have fought vigorously to take offensive terms like ‘Queer‘ in the Gay community and flip them. The word ‘Nigger‘ has been argued to no longer be an offensive term but now one that is a term of endearment. Efforts to shut down those words have been met with scorn, ridicule and folks claiming those taking offense are out of touch.. Can that happen with the term Occupy? Can it be flipped?

There is no ignoring the fact that the word Occupy cuts deep in many communities and last week in Oakland there was a push to change the name.. from Occupy to Decolonize.. A vote was taken and 63% voted yes to name change vs the 37% who opposed. 90% is needed for a measure to pass at a General Assembly in Oakland.

In Seattle a similar discussion unfolded last month.. The proposal to change the name was also defeated, but a statement was issued which can be found http://occupyseattle.org/blog/2011-10-25/declaration-decolonizeoccupy-seattle.

In New Mexico similar discussions and proposals were put forth as outlined http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/13/1025832/-Indigenous-People-of-OccupyBurque-Challenge-the-Term-Occupy-%28Photo-Diary%29

One of the concerns raised was that folks who came out to push the Decolonize proposal in Oakland were not regular attendees of GAs.. However, many if not all are long time activists in the community who been fighting the 1% long before there was any sort of Occupy Movement..

Also from the footage shown in the video below, many have been down at GAs in the past and in support of Occupy Movement..So it’s not like we have a group of folks who just showed up on the scene..What wasn’t shown in the film were those who don’t want to change the name.. Contrary to popular belief, quite a few were people of color who are down at GAs all the time.. so it’s not an across the board black or white issue..

The other criticism is most people don’t understand what the term Decolonization means… I know from talking to students in my class it’s not a term that most are aware of… Does an unfamiliar name kill the momentum of a movement just started? Why not take a bold stance, change the name and use this as a learning opportunity? After all the term Occupy within two months has become part of the American lexicon, can’t the term Decolonize follow the same trajectory?

In any case, this is an important discussion and hopefully it continues with the aim of building community, raising awareness and opening hearts and minds.. Will such discussions at time be contentious? Absolutely, but what political discussion in the city has not been?

It was just last month that folks in various Occupy sites had to grind it out around discussions of Violence vs Non violence and the diversity of tactics.. One result was folks getting educated to what Anarchists are about. One got to understand that among those who identify as Anarchists/ Black Bloc there’s a politic, various perspectives and a movement that’s been around for long time and is not centered around simply breaking windows. In short people were able to have their horizons broadened.. And yes, the debates were testy, the discussions not always pretty, but necessary..

The discussion is the term Occupy vs Decolonization is just as important in fact it may be even more because of the sheer numbers of people who live in cities like Oakland who are affected by 1% economic policies who are being urged to join the Occupy Movement, but have hesitated because the a bothersome term..

What I personally have found problematic is how folks have been dismissive of this concern.. There have been some, that have expressed indifference and impatience with both the proposal and discussion. Some have suggested that this is slowing momentum and they didn’t show up to be apart of Occupy to debate name changes.. I say that’s the fault line where everything comes to halt and we work it out.. That’s where the real work needs to be done. Wall Street and their 1% cronies are not going anywhere…

Healing and understanding how that 1% and its tactics of divide and conquer has resulted in class privilege and lots of negative presumptions is something that needs to be addressed immediately and for as long as it takes…To not do so will have us all fall victim to some of the same tactics that netted us behind the proverbial 8 ball in the past.

One of the strength in the Occupy Movement has been the forging new relationship and building new alliances. That’s not something that can be easily packaged and explained in a neat 30 second soundbite that we all immediately get, but as those relationships take hold, folks involved start to understand the importance of them and how its essential for any and all work moving forward.

We often talk about having a world devoid of ism and schisms..Many find that desirable. In order to get there will require some long hard soul searching discussions. Its the birthing pains of new world..That’s the challenge before us lets embrace it with courage and whole lotta love.

written by Davey D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r_s3X0uW9Ec