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Whether on not a given protest tactic works depends largely on two things, the police response and how the story is told to the world beyond.
Recently police in London and Moscow managed to end protests in both capitals without any of the hardware routinely used to brutalize Americans. Perhaps this went unremarked upon in U.S. media because they're just too embarrassed to report that it's actually safer to protest in Moscow than in many American cities. It's certainly the case that, beginning with the earliest protests in New York, what has been lacking in U.S. media is global and historical context.
All across the country, police have vandalized Occupy libraries. All across the country, banks have stolen homes from their owners. But, in Oakland, it's the vandalism of broken glass that upsets people. At least the police have been thoughtful enough to do their vandalism off camera. And, nobody actually saw a bank steal anybody's house. An act can only be violent if it's on TV and the media says some protestor did it.
Another aspect of the local Occupation guaranteed to send people to their keyboards is that many Occupiers "are not even from Oakland." The equivalent 60's phrase was "outside agitator." The Reverend Doctor King answered this in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" when he wrote, "Never again can we afford to live within the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider within its bounds."
Too often, when citing the successes of Gandhi and King, important factors are overlooked. Crucially, both leaders had faith that viewers outside India and the Deep South would be appalled by the authorities' vicious abuse of human beings. But in Oakland, shields are called weapons and the Police Chief told the Tribune that "my police are under assault." In New York, Mayor Bloomberg called the NYPD his "own army". In Berkeley, Cal Police Captain Margo Bennett defended her counterparts at Davis, "The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence." Clearly, in this country, at this time, violence is in the eye of the beholder.
Of course, police violence against protestors has always comes to an end eventually. In the Deep South of King's day, it ended with the FBI protecting Civil Rights. In Oakland, a decade later, it ended with the FBI killing protestors.
How will it end this time?
It's very simple. Anarchy is essentially the opposite of monarchy and Americans settled that question back in 1776. We can easily see the distinctions between pacifism and non-violence or between vandalism and violence by answering the key question before us.
Pete Seeger popularized this question in a song written by my fellow Kentuckian, Florence Reece, "Which side are you on?" But, Mrs. Reese didn't address her question to Seeger's "boys." She asked her entire community. And just as there were no "neutrals" In the "Bloody Harlan" of the 1930s, Oakland is forcing people to choose.
Which side are you on?
Interesting headline. Why not, "New way to hold cops accountable?"
This is the 21st-century equivalent of red-baiting. As soon as one group is sacrificed to OPD, other groups will become vulnerable. Solidarity does not require approval - only a willingness to work together for the long haul.
Secondly, blaming protestors for being provocative echoes blaming rape victims for wearing provocative clothing. Those who use force to get their way are the ones to be held accountable, not people who defend themselves.
Mr. Gammon's reckless assertion that the Occupations have been using "deeply undemocratic rules" needs to be set alongside the fact that the Quakers have been using a stricter version of the same rules for over 3 1/2 centuries and yet have taken the lead on many issues.
Finally, it's absolutely insane that the decision by authorities to ignore neighborhoods to protect property is blamed on the Occupation. This does prove that some folks definitely have to go. And, it ain't the Black Bloc.
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