From spectator to participant: How the last week changed my relationship with Occupy Oakland

1 Nov

When Occupy Oakland first started, I was skeptical and frankly unimpressed. I stopped by the rally on that first Monday at 4pm and was underwhelmed by the turnout. At most, a couple hundred people were there. The rally took place on the corner of 14th and Broadway and the sound system (or maybe just a bullhorn) wasn’t loud enough and it was difficult to hear. I chatted with some friends I ran into and went back to work.

Day by day tents went up in Frank Ogawa Plaza and I became much less underwhelmed, especially once infrastructure was developed. The occupiers organized a communal kitchen, library, schedule of events, and of course port-o-potties. I work in Frank Ogawa Plaza so passed the encampment every day, often multiple times per day. I appreciated that it was mostly quiet during the day and amplified sound never started until 4 or 5pm. At night I felt safer walking around in the area, as there were tons of people around. I developed an admiration for the occupation and defended the occupiers to friends who were frightened and annoyed by the encampment.

Yet I was still skeptical. I expressed to many that while I thought the Occupy movement was doing a great job changing the dialogue in our country, it wasn’t a movement I could participate in because I didn’t understand the end game. I’ve taken part in much advocacy and several movements, and I’ve always had a clear goal in mind (even if it was a goal I knew wouldn’t be attained for many years, like stopping the federal attacks on medical marijuana – a goal I chipped away at for nearly a decade and which still hasn’t been met).

I didn’t understand the goals of Occupy Oakland. Did they just plan to occupy our municipal plaza forever? What would constitute victory? Without understanding the end game, no matter how much I respected what Occupy Oakland was doing, I didn’t see a point in participating.

My skepticism started to fade a week ago, when I woke up on Tuesday morning to hundreds of tweets and dozens of stories about the police raid of Occupy Oakland. It hit me that morning, sitting at home, how much people had been putting themselves on the line for something they believed in. That was something I can relate to, as I developed and grew as an activist under the wings of two amazing mentors who firmly believed in the power of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience.

My admiration for the occupiers and their supporters grew on Tuesday night, as I watched from the safety of my home the horror that occurred in downtown Oakland. Many people withstood multiple rounds of teargassing  (and some much worse), yet they stood their ground for their right to occupy Frank Ogawa Plaza and stood up against the jailing of their fellow occupiers.

By Wednesday, I realized something big was happening, especially when I saw thousands of people gather in Frank Ogawa Plaza at night. Still though, I was just a spectator. I watched the general assembly and left before folks split up into groups, going home to follow what was happening on Twitter.

But I was drawn in enough to come back on Thursday night. I planned to just watch again, but when I arrived at 6pm for the general strike planning meeting, almost immediately groups split off to plan things like media, outreach, and logistics. So I joined the (huge) media team and just listened – there were dozens of people and with so much process, little seemed to be getting done. Finally a few people suggested we split into smaller groups, and we did. I joined the group to work on the general strike press release and press conference and am so glad I did.

I was blown away by our group of about 15 people and have been continually impressed by them over the past several days. About 2/3 of the participants were media professionals – several worked for independent media outlets, a few of us did media work for non-profits or campaigns, one guy worked at Pandora, another worked for an ad agency. We talked about what we needed to do for the media advisory, press release and press conference. And I say we for the first time because all of a sudden I was no longer a spectator. I hadn’t planned to, but I was participating.

I woke up the next morning to an email from one of the participants with a link to an online workspace she had built for us to use. All of us had equal access to this workspace. By mid-day two women had drafted the advisory and press release. A few of us met again that evening and further hammered out details, deciding that we needed to identify some Occupy Oakland storytellers (since there are no official spokespeople for Occupy Oakland). I went home and put together a media contact list and uploaded it to the workspace. And over the weekend people in our group met some more (I was unable to join them but appreciated reading the notes). They planned the general strike press conference that happened yesterday afternoon and sent out a media advisory.

The press conference, which I attended yesterday, was a huge success. (If you missed it, you can watch the video of it here.) The speakers were all incredibly powerful and shared their stories of why they’re taking part in the general strike. One woman’s home was being foreclosed by Chase bank, another woman was an educator who was frustrated by the diminishing funding for education, and someone from the ILWU union spoke about the issues facing workers and about Oakland’s 1946 general strike. I was amazed that in just four days a small group of people – most of whom had never even met – were able to pull this off.

Being involved in this small group made me remember that the end goal isn’t the only important part of a social movement. The process itself can be very powerful.

Occupy Oakland has brought together thousands of activists and Oakland residents, many of whom probably never would have worked together otherwise. It’s brought media attention to the economic inequities in our country and in our city. The small number of people who have committed acts of vandalism and violence during Occupy marches have spurred a much larger group of people to organize as peacekeepers, and they were incredibly effective at keeping the peace during Saturday night’s march.

I must admit that I still don’t know what the end game is for Occupy Oakland. I don’t know what it would take for occupiers to feel like they have met enough goals for them to end the occupation.

But I’m okay with that, especially since I’m not planning to camp with Occupy Oakland. At this point I’m satisfied with participating in ways that make sense to me, like helping with media, donating books to the library, and tweeting as much as I can about what’s happening.

Because that’s the beauty of the Occupy movement. Everyone can participate in their own way, and that might not even involve coming to Frank Ogawa Plaza or taking off work for the general strike.

I love what one small, locally owned business is doing, for example. Awaken Cafe is staying open tomorrow during the general strike but will be donating 10% of its sales to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and 10% to the Ella Baker Center. That is Awaken’s way of standing up for the 99%.

Yesterday, I talked to one of the volunteers who’s organized Occupy Oakland’s library. He works at the Oakland Public Library and will not be striking tomorrow because he feels it’s important for the libraries to continue to serve the people of Oakland.

I hope you’ll join me tomorrow, November 2nd at the general strike or will find your own way to support Occupy Oakland and the 99%. Join us at the mass gatherings at 14th & Broadway at 9am, 12pm and 5pm. Here’s the poster and you can find out more details on the strike web page.

Maybe you can’t strike tomorrow or don’t want to participate that way. Some are suggesting to buy nothing. I suggest buying locally. Skip Starbucks and go to your local coffee shop. Skip fast food and buy lunch at a local restaurant.

I know some Oaklanders who are very concerned about independent local businesses being targeted during the strike. I not only hope that that will not happen but will be participating to help ensure that it does not happen. On Saturday night a few dozen peacekeepers were able to stop violence and vandalism. Imagine what hundreds of us can do.

35 Responses to “From spectator to participant: How the last week changed my relationship with Occupy Oakland”

  1. Tonya November 1, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Bravo!!

    I’m going to be there as well!!🙂

  2. Andy K November 1, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    These stories of people being moved to join the occupation are inspiring.

    I have not yet directly participated, but I certainly have been moved to speak up when in the past I might have just bitten my toung – even this small step can be alittle unnevering at first, but it gets eaiser with time.

    The occupation has definetly had an effect – I hear politiics it spoken about in circles where talk of politics was seldom spoken in the past.

    Don’t forget Scott Olsen – may he fully recover.

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 1, 2011 at 11:36 am #

      Glad to hear it Andy.

      And I have not forgotten Scott Olsen. I just wasn’t sure I had much to add to that conversation and felt weird just dropping in a brief mention of him.

  3. Tuyen Nhat Vo (@tuyenvo) November 1, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Informative and balanced write up. I am also unclear as to the goals of the protestors. I don’t see myself throwing my support behind them until something more coherent emerges. I also question the venue. I understand the reasons behind the Occupy Wall Street movement – shake up the financial incumbents. What’s the point behind protesting Oakland City Hall which I don’t think represents the 1%. Why not protest at the Bank of America building in San Francisco? Or the Morgan Stanley offices by the lake?

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 1, 2011 at 11:49 am #

      I agree. If I had organized the occupation I would have chosen a different venue. But I didn’t organize it.

      My guess is they chose the plaza because it is centrally located, very visible, and easy to get to. The point initially wasn’t to protest the City, though after what happened last week, many occupiers understandably are upset with the City.

      • Tuyen Nhat Vo (@tuyenvo) November 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

        Definitely agree with that. The police response was little heavy handed for my taste.

        My opinion is that some more recent protests (BART – both Oscar Grant and cell phone fiasco) seemed more relatable and with a clear message. More importantly, they were very targeted in reaching the powers that be who needed to have their actions changed (BART board, police, etc). My feeling is that the Occupy Oakland group lacks that clear direction and focus.

        The protest at the port tomorrow seems more clearly targeted at corporations and commerce. Though it will disrupt my day (I work in Jack London), I get what they’re trying to do. I may not necessarily agree with it but at least I understand the intent and the position.

    • hh November 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

      excellent point. i could not agree more. how has our already broke city hall come to represent the 1%? while wells fargo, bofa, and chase wth all their shiny new signs get off scott free. if occupy oakland, like its other city cohorts continued to focus on banks on jobs and on forgiving student loans, it would be so much more effective for the average oakland citizen (who is FAR from the 1%) and for the city as a whole. oh well.

  4. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    You mention the Occupiers’ “right” to occupy the plaza. Except that they don’t have any such rights. They have the right to peacably assemble, and exercise First Amendment rights. They don’t have the right to camp, or set up soup kitchens or put in Porta-Potties. They don’t have the right to march without proper permits. The camping vs. speech issue has already been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Court conclusively decided that camping is not speech; therefore, no First Amendment rights are implicated. So the occupiers are breaking the law. Without laws, we have chaos. Which is what I see going on here. How do you justify breaking the law? Why shouldn’t the law apply to you and the other occupiers? Would you feel the same way if you didn’t support the cause? What if the protestors opposed gay marriage? Would you still feel their claims of “free speech” ruled the day? Don’t you worry that the purspose and impact of the strike is to hurt businesses and residents? Oakland has been trying to expand its tax base, and all of this is doing nothing but discourage businesses from doing business in Oakland, and discourage patrons from going to these businesses? An anti-capitalist march? Seriously? You think this will help improve our tax base?

    Oakland has nothing to do with Wall Street or the 1%. Why aren’t yhou occupying Piedmont?

    • Chella November 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      I second and third and appluad this sentiment Marleen. Oakland is a struggling City and with no help from the aimless Occupiers (get the ask right folks What are you asking for??) banks to refund money to our governent? YUP oh or start with reversing foreclosures and cleaning up the filthy foreclosed houses that sit empty all around us?? Hmm or maybe join the march in the City to sit-in at the footsteps of the Wells Fargo Headquarters where the real money is?? LEAVE OAKLAND ALONE!! Instead of costing our/my tax money (as a struggling community orgainzer-non-profiteer) to clean up after your pop-ups??? REALLY get it right if you are gonna get angry and get even go to Walnut Creek, Orinda? but Oakland REALLY???

  5. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Also, Rebecca, take a look at this flyer that is being distributed. http://twitter.com/#!/susie_c/status/131210601161695233/photo/1/large

    These people are threatening direct violence. Taxpayers just footed the $1 million bill for last week’s episode. Occupiers and their anarchist/communist supporters are now threatening more violence and chaos, all of which is terrible for business and terrible for Oakland’s reputation, and is putting an unacceptable strain on residents of a City that is already on the brink. This is the last thing Oakland needs. I urge you and all the occupiers to rethink your tactics, your strategy and your goals. We are all being hurt immensely.

  6. Naomi Schiff November 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Marleen, I think we have to distinguish between the principled occupiers and the crank-fringe stalinists who try to hijack every protest or march. They tried to mess up the anti-Iraq-war protests in SF, they took advantage of the Oscar Grant protests, and they are trying to provoke violence now. We shouldn’t let them get away with it. Don’t let those old timey rhetoricians push you into reaction. Instead, consider Becks’ example; work towards reasonable protest.

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks Naomi for articulating that so well.

      • Tuyen Nhat Vo (@tuyenvo) November 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

        True, but I think you invite these fringe elements when you don’t have a well organized and purposeful movement. Even when you do, like the examples that Naomi mentioned, you still get these undesirable elements. I wish more people were like Rebecca. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case.

        • wasserperson November 2, 2011 at 1:47 am #

          Just because Occupy is a non-heirarchical movement doesn’t mean it’s not organized. Just because there’s no figureheads or authorities doesn’t mean there isn’t leadership.

          One major strength of this movement is the way it distributes power–embodying the very principle it pursues.

  7. dto510 aka Jonathan Bair November 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Awaken Cafe’s glass door was smashed by Occupiers, as were two other storefront windows on the Plaza. Downtown residents are being kept up all night by screaming marches, and bus service across the East Bay has been disrupted five of the last seven days because of people “occupying” the public street. And who knows what is going on inside the encampment. Is it really accurate to characterize Occupy as peaceful and free of vandalism?

  8. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Rebecca, you haven’t answered the questions I posed: (1) How do you justify breaking the law? (2) Would you defend the right to speech/assembly if the cause were something you didn’t agree with; (3) How do you justify what is going on, given the extraordinary expense to businesses and taxpayers that are already hurting? (4) Where is the 1% in Oakland? I certainly don’t know any; (5) Why aren’t you occupying Piedmont?

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

      1) I don’t justify any violent law breaking. I think non-violent civil disobedience can be fully justifiable. Some day I’ll write a blog post on that, but I’m far too tired and don’t have the time to fully go into that right now.

      2) Yes, definitely. I firmly believe in free speech and the right to assemble.

      3) Most of the costs incurred to the City are related to the raid of the encampment and the police response that evening. I don’t need to justify those expenses – Jean Quan does.

      I feel terrible for any local business that has suffered at all because of Occupy Oakland or because of the police response. That is why I have been urging folks (successfully) for the past week to patronize businesses in Frank Ogawa Plaza. I bought lunch today and yesterday in the plaza, and I bought snacks for my whole office from three plaza businesses last Wednesday.

      4) There are plenty of 1%ers in Oakland, but that’s not the point. Occupy Oakland is part of an international movement that is not just focused on Oakland.

      5) I didn’t start the occupation so I didn’t decide where to occupy. As I responded to Tuyen above, I would have picked a different location, but that wasn’t my choice to make. I do not have the time or energy to spearhead a different occupy location.

  9. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    See below. Do the Occupiers know what a “corporation” actually is? It is any business that is “incorporated,” from the smallest, to the largest. Occupiers are concerned about a lack of jobs. Who do they think supply those jobs? Where is the money for those jobs supposed to come from? From the businesses that will hopefully employ them, obviously. Is this point lost on the Occupiers?

    Here’s the latest release from the Oakland Chamber of Commerce:
    Who are the 99%
    A flyer found on the windshield of a member’s car called for a mass gathering at 14th and Broadway. Not an unusual happening, however this flyer included a line that gave us concern…
    ‘All banks and corporations must close down for the day or we will march on them’
    It is not clear who wrote that other than the occupyoakland.org/strike site!
    Another flyer from the Alameda Labor Council AFL-CIO states: “Labor Stands in Solidarity with Occupy Oakland!’ Further stating, “Labor unions and members join the Occupy Oakland Day of Action.”
    We interpret this as:
    Be part of reducing commerce in Oakland? Be part of threatening the community? Be part of discouraging people from doing business in Oakland on Wednesday, Nov. 2 to make a point to Wall Street? Really?

    Their schedule includes: Noon-Bank march and action

    Is this like biting the hand that feeds you?

  10. John Gatewood November 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Non-violent civil disobedience sometimes does involve “breaking the law.” I am still not convinced that the “Occupy” movement is the civil rights movement of this decade, but the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement did in fact involve breaking the law. Misdemeanor violations of civil statutes does not make their goals back then or “Occupy Oakland” actions today illegitimate. What would is, as Naomi so well stated, allowing a tiny fringe element to co-opt the “Occupy” movement in pursuit of their own violent, nihilist goals.
    As to the extraordinary expenses to the taxpayers of this city (I am one), a large part of that can be attributed to the utter incompetence of Mayor Quan’s administration and their attempt to remove the “occupiers” of the Plaza. For someone who has spent so many decades in public service, her actions these past 7 days have shown her to be completely incapable of leading our city. It is a rare and stunningly incompetent politician who is able to alienate ALL sides in a controversy, yet Mayor Quan has managed to do just that. Don’t blame the “occupiers” for what her incompetence is costing us, blame her.
    I am sorry that the Awaken’s window got broken and that there were other scattered acts of violence perpetrated by the black bandana goons who use Oakland as their playground. And I hope that the vast majority of peaceful “Occupiers” will do what they can tomorrow to keep the goons in check.
    As for the businesses downtown that have seen a downturn in business, I have seen numerous calls on numerous sites these last couple of days encouraging people to at least shop locally tomorrow. Will this make a difference to these businesses? I don’t know but I hope so.

    • Tuyen Nhat Vo (@tuyenvo) November 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      I agree with you John. Civil disobedience is justified when the cause is just. However, I think what the Occupy Oakland group is fighting for (not really 100% sure) does not qualify to me as a just cause. Civil rights, stopping wars, the environment (in some cases) are just causes. This doesn’t quite measure up.

  11. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    John, those causes you mentioned had a pretty specific goal: ending the war, equal rights for racial minorities etc. I agree with Tuyen on this one, because nobody can really articulate what the “cause” is. Economic/income inquality? What does that even mean? Everybody has to earn exactly the same amount? Communism? Socialism?

    Shutting down “corporations?” Those are the people that make jobs, for goodness sake! The bigger the corporation, the more jobs they bring to Oakland. And you want to shut them down? That’s bonkers!

  12. John Gatewood November 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Tarring an entire movement by assuming that the most extreme elements are representative of the whole is lazy stereotyping. By way of example, just because a few right-wing nuts at Tea Party rallies have anti-Obama signs that are patently racist doesn’t make the Tea Party movement as a whole racist.
    Marching on the Port tomorrow night in attempt to shut down the night shift is a very specific goal directed at multinational corporations to impede their operations for a few hours. Picket lines are time-honored and legal way for people to voice their opposition.
    I am not involved with the “Occupiers” but I am concerned about the level of income inequality in our country today. That doesn’t make me a communist or a socialist or any other hoary hackneyed political label being thrown around by fear-mongers.
    “The bigger the corporation, the more jobs they bring to Oakland.” Really? Where is your data to back that up? The political reality in a City as economically desperate as ours is, the bigger the corporation the faster the city whores itself out with sweetheart deals. Three Oakland examples – The Raiders deal, the downtown ice skating rink and the Oak to Ninth project.
    Given all your questions, Marleen, perhaps you should go down to Frank Ogawa Plaza and just ask those involved to be more specific in their goals. From what I have read and heard, the General Assembly is open to all, and all have the right to speak.

    • dto510 aka Jonathan Bair November 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

      Of course it is true the bigger corporations bring more jobs – by definition. Almost half of all jobs in Oakland are in downtown skyscrapers. Clorox moved 400 employees out of downtown a few months ago; the MTC is planning to move hundreds, and Dreyers will close their two-floor downtown office early next year and we’ll lose another 100+ jobs. They all left because of concerns over public safety. It will take dozens if not hundreds of new small businesses to make up for the job and tax loss of these corporations relocating – which will only get worse if the City cannot enforce the law and provide public safety downtown.

      • Redrah November 2, 2011 at 9:11 am #

        I work in downtown Oakland. My company could be anywhere in the state, but they have made a commitment to downtown Oakland and intend to be there for the long haul. That being said, they have difficulty recruiting due to the location. Over the past few years they have lost quite a bit of work hours from the building closing during protests, or people ducking out early to get home before a BART protest. At some point, they won’t be able to justify the finances of it anymore.

  13. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    John, speaking is different than asking questions and actually getting answers. And chances are, I’d get a different answer from everybody I asked, because the “movement” is so muddled and incoherent. I’ve heard several people interviewed on camera and they absolutely espouse communist ideals, no question about it. I don’t consider “communist” a “hoary, hackneyed” label any more than “capitalist.” And people in the “movement” have no trouble throwing that word around in a “negative” or “stereotyped” manner.
    Anyway, have fun blockading Pandora and the other “evil, capitalist corporations” tomorrow. Poor Oakland.

    • wasserperson November 2, 2011 at 1:54 am #

      The movement is a big tent but it’s pretty coherent if you take the time to do direct research, instead of floating hypotheticals.
      From http://occupywallst.org/about/ :
      “The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”

      In the long run, I believe Oakland’s financial picture will be better off when we get national attention for responding to militarized police over-reaction with community solidarity. Fear mongering about the city does more damage than any smashed window (which I also oppose). I’m joining tomorrow’s action to see the community come out in force with passion and power and no violence.

  14. John Gatewood November 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Marleen, the mainstream media thrives on yahoos. The wackier the interviewee, the better the video. Speaking as someone who works in media, and, yes this is a gross generalization, but the mainstream media is lazy and has no desire to investigate when they can just trot out a 10 second sound-bite “interview” with some 20-something dude in dreads denouncing capitalism. A sound-bite that fits nicely with their preconceived notion that the “Occupiers” are just a bunch of hippie retreads spouting tired 60’s revolutionary rhetoric. Such a story is A LOT easier to slap together by deadline than actually spending hours listening to the “Occupiers” General Assembly try to reach consensus. However as Becks quite clearly spelled out in her post, there are many very thoughtful people involved with this nascent movement who have much more to say then simple-minded sloganeering.
    Furthermore, what do you want from a movement (in Oakland at least) that is about 3 weeks old? A position paper? A party platform? A manifesto? Not gonna happen, at least not until they spend many more hours and days and weeks hashing out what their goals are (especially if they are still going to continue to operate under a consensus model.)
    Sorry but I don’t fear some pathetic loser spouting communist rhetoric and clowns like that do not represent the “Occupiers”. Simply because the media seeks out the most controversial figures to interview does not make these same pretend-revolutionaries the voice of an organization. You need to broaden your media sources and more critically analyze what you hear and read instead of taking it all at face value.
    As for me, I will be at work tomorrow but will make a point of shopping locally when I get home from work tomorrow night.

  15. Naomi Schiff November 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Thank you, John. I too object, Marleen, to the provocateurs and anarchists who want to make trouble and break glass (why do they enjoy breaking glass so much? it isn’t really difficult or challenging at all!), and I have had a business downtown since 1981 so have lived through various upheavals. But I know that this is not the majority; it is just a noisy faction that usurps the image and makes great copy as John says. They make more considered protestors look terrible. I spent this morning tearing down some egregiously stupid flyers posted near my office on 12th.

    What I would like to suggest is that the Occupy folks and the City Council get busy and work together to 1) Where possible, move city accounts out of the big banks and into smaller local institutions; 2) Demand that if they are to continue holding and using our reasonably large deposits, the large banks get moving quickly on much more vigorous mortgage renegotiations for underwater homeowners and on local small and micro-business lending, and 3) immediately make arrangements to serve the vast swath of Oakland citizens that have no access to banking services and are preyed upon by paycheck loan operations.

  16. MarleenLee November 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    John, I appreciate your thoughtful response. But my media sources are from all over the map. OaklandNorth did a profile of five of the “campers” and I wouldn’t consider them mainstream media. The campers consisted of a homeless vet; a young woman with 4 kids/father in prison and practically no income; a mentally ill college-age kid from a wealthy family whom he had rejected; a “peyote circle organizer” who had given up his “corporate” job because it wasn’t “meaningful” enough – you get the picture. I read the Twitter feeds related to #occupy, from right to left. I really would have wanted to hear what Rebecca had to say. The fact that she won’t answer my questions (which are really the same questions most people like me are likely to have) is quite troublesome. Or perhaps just indicative of the lack of thought many OO supporters have given or want to give to the other side.

    I think Rebecca’s frustration with Comcast for refusing to come to her house tomorrow is indicative. I mean, isn’t Occupy calling for a total shutdown of evil corporations? Isn’t Comcast an evil corporation? So what is she doing even asking them to come to her house on strike day? In fact, why is she even doing business with them to begin with? If you really want to stick it to a company, just stop doing business with them altogether. Look at the power consumers have had with the banks and Netflix in the past couple of weeks. (Yeah, of course Occupiers are trying to take credit for the bank thing, but that has nothing to do with them at all). A one day “strike” won’t even make a dent, except to the extent that they decide Oakland is just a pain in the ass to do business with and they’ll take their companies elsewhere. Fewer jobs in Oakland, a poor Comcast repair guy out of work. Mission accomplished. Or collateral damage? Or do the Occupiers even care?

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) November 1, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

      Marleen – the only reason I’ve yet to respond to you is because I was at work all day and had a lot to accomplish since I’m not going in tomorrow. I’m not sure why it would be troublesome that in the span of few hours I didn’t have time to respond to your many extremely lengthy comments.

      I’m not against capitalism and have no problem admitting that I spend plenty of money at corporations. I try my best to spend money locally, but that’s not always easy or possible.

      I also don’t expect everyone to strike, as I made quite clear in my blog post.

  17. Redrah November 2, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    I’m having trouble articulating why I’m not 100% fully in support of a general strike. I love targeted labor strikes, which make the point that a given company cannot function without its workers. But with a general strike, at some point we might all be hurting each other. The conflict over whether to protest/occupy BART today kind of illustrates it: OccupyOakland wants to “shut down the city”. Except for BART! Because we need BART to get to the protest!

    (Don’t even get me started on calls to protest UC, and not the University of Phoenix location in downtown Oakland. Which university produces more students who can’t get jobs — if they graduate at all — and have high debt burdens? Hint: not UC. Are people going to protest the OUSD? How are they different than UC?)

    • Redrah November 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      . . . and answering my own question, I see that there are people protesting OUSD. Okay, then. I would prefer marching on Sacramento, as the state is the source of the budget woes facing the schools. But like Becks, I will admit that since I’m not organizing it, I maybe don’t get a say.

  18. matt Iglehart November 2, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Marleen – a few easy questions for you:
    1) Do you support police brutality on unarmed civilians?
    2) Do you think that Government that represents monied special interests is a good
    idea?
    3) Do you remember the economic collapse of 2008, and the effect it continues to have
    on business and unemployment .
    Thanks Becks for the thoughtful blogging and tweets. Other movements have been criticized for not having a coherent message. In retrospect they have coalesced. Having these kind of false requirements is an attempt to control people further. Similar to the fence that was put up on the grass. This is a fluid situation, no one knows how it will play out. But, if you are not afraid and can approach people with at least an open mind, then you might become a party to it instead of an observer or pundit. Hope to see you on the streets.

  19. MarleenLee November 2, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Wasserperson, my issues are not necessarily with OWS, but rather with Occupy Oakland, whose messages and actions are far more disturbing than OWS in general. OO appears to have gravitated toward the extreme left and they are overtly espousing extreme leftist views. I mean, come on, staging an “anti-capitalist march?” And first speaker up this morning is Angela Davis, a professed communist (ran for vice president on the communist ticket) Oh, and she was convicted for participating in a highly violent kidnapping and murder of a judge, so I hardly think she stands for principles of “non-violence.” No, these are not “pathetic losers” in the crowd. They are the spokespeople for the “movement.”

    As for “civil disobedience,” you can use that argument to support violating pretty much any law you disagree with or find inconvenient. The City requires permits for marches such as the ones being staged today, for the obvious purpose of ensuring appropriate security, and presumably also to ensure that the marchers pay something for that security. There is no excuse for not obtaining the proper permits for today’s marches. Why should everyone else have to get the proper permits, and not OO? In my opinion, civil disobedience can really be the epitome of arrogance and righteous indignation, and used to support any number of causes. Whether those causes are right or wrong is all in the eye of the beholder. Tax evaders and anti-abortion terrorists, or teachers refusing to teach evolution claim “civil disobedience” all the time to justify their unjustifiable tactics.
    The overall mess of OO to blame, scapegoat and target the “1%” is also incredibly troubling. The mob doesn’t have a clue who the 1% in Oakland are, or where they are. For all they know, the 1% in Oakland are the most generous, biggest philanthropists and supporters of the arts out there. The biggest provider of jobs with good health benefits. But they aren’t bothering to do their research. They’re too busy hurling around generalizations and stereotypes that rich people must be evil and greedy. The same sort of mob mentality was generated by the same sorts of frustrations leading up to the Third Reich in Germany. And the easy victims and scapegoats were the Jews, who were the victims of similar stereotypes and insults. Not a pretty picture.
    Matt, no of course I don’t support police brutality. In fact, part of my job is investigating and prosecuting police officers for excessive force. So far, no investigations into excessive force have been completed, and no findings have been made. Therefore, there are no conclusions that excessive force has been used. Here in the U.S., we thankfully have a justice system that allows for due process, and don’t convict and lynch people using a mob decision making. Except for many of the Occupiers, who have already tried and convicted specific officers in their own heads.
    Yes, I do have a problem with monied special interests having too much influence on government. Among the biggest and most monied special interest groups out there are the unions, which are effectively co-opting the Occupy message and movement for their own purposes.

  20. Santiago November 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Hey Becks well good to hear you have embraced less orthodox forms of political activity now. It was a nice story you share, the process of being outsider and becoming part of the group and help shaping it. It seems at the end you once again remove yourself once again though when you say “I must admit that I still don’t know what the end game is for Occupy Oakland. I don’t know what it would take for occupiers to feel like they have met enough goals for them to end the occupation”… I guess now its up you since you have become a part of it… so I turn the question to you: What is the end-game? What is enough?

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