Owen O'Silverman Andrews 
Member since Nov 16, 2011


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Re: “Letters for the Week of November 16

At an independent, truth-seeking newspaper, journalists have the responsibility to frame the controversial terms and issues they report on. In this week’s edition, both Robert Gammon and Rachel Swan used vandalism and violence interchangeably in characterizing the Oakland Occupy movement. These words are not synonyms, nor should they be used frivolously.

Both Gammon and Swan seem to consider broken windows and trashcan fires as acts of violence; windows do not bleed and trashcans do not suffer. Nor can windows and trashcans go hungry, undereducated, or homeless. Corporations are not people. The events that occurred after sundown on November 2nd were acts of vandalism, not violence.

If Gammon and Swan were looking for acts of violence stemming from the Occupy Oakland movement, they could have emphasized police violence. Police officers, acting under the direction of elected city officials, have used numerous violent tactics to suppress constitutionally protected freedoms of assembly and expression, from tear gas (of which I was a victim), to rubber bullets, to batons, to fracturing Scott Olsen’s skull with a projectile. If the EBX uses the word violence to characterize the tactics of Occupy, they must show equivalent demonstrations of force against human beings, not corporate property.

There are instances where the line between vandalism and violence muddy. Fear is an act of violence, the preferred method of the ruling class. When vandals smashed windows at the business where I work, many of my co-workers were terrified. The memory of the fear they felt may harden them against a movement in their name. A nuanced inspection of vandalism and violence should have accompanied Gammon and Swan’s articles—instead they used the terms like synonyms.

One of the great triumphs of the global Occupy Movement is that it has induced people to question widely held misperceptions. Journalists must perform the same function. I urge the EBX and its readers to question themes that emerge around Occupy, like the myth of a violent movement. The status quo that bails out banks that force people from their homes is violent. Police and city administrators who have caused verifiable injuries are violent. Occupy Oakland is responding to this violence, not causing it. Before equating a few isolated acts of vandalism with fractured skulls and ruptured spleens, the EBX and its readers must reflect on their values. If you believe corporations are people, then violence has been done. If violence is an act that can only be committed against fellow human beings, then the EBX should retract accusation that Occupy Oakland is violent.

Owen Andrews, Oakland

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Owen O'Silverman Andrews on 11/16/2011 at 1:16 PM

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