I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It: Oakland Police Department Attempts To Beat Down OccupyOakland
Been following the heinous acts of police brutality tonight in Oakland as the Oakland Police Department cracks down on peaceful protestors trying to demonstrate in support of Occupy Oakland. Twitter feeds from Davey D, Josh Holland, and a great livestream from jlevinger on qik.com have been providing immediate on-the-ground updates of the violence against peaceful and lawfully assembled demonstrators. Throughout the night the police have fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades, and used sonic cannons to harass the thousands of people exercising their right to peacefully assemble.
Right now I’m listening to the the police repeatedly playing a chilling warning demanding that the crowd disperse or face arrest and that, “regardless of your purpose,” they face “possible serious injury” and that “chemical agents will be used.” Who knew that when the regime in Iran was cracking down on peaceful protesters back in 2009 that the OPD would be using similar shock tactics to prevent U.S. citizens from exercising their constitutional rights?
Luckily, on the protesters’ side cooler heads seem to be prevailing so far and there have been no rash acts on their part. But who knows how long folks will tolerate being gassed before they break down and fight back? The OPD knows they just have to provoke one misguided fool into breaking a window or lighting a garbage can on fire and it will be all over the front page as justification for their misdeeds tonight.
At one point in the livestream (now looping previous information as the cameraperson’s phone batteries recharge), jlevinger say, “I’m no pro videographer here, it’s just a fucking iPhone.” But he’s doing much more than the so-called professionals working for the TV news. Earlier tonight ABC-Live had a live feed from one of their traffic helicoptors following the demonstrations, but, mysteriously, just as the police started to fire the first tear-gas cannisters, the chopper pulled away from the scene and the live-feed stopped. ABC-Live tweeted that they helicopter needed to refuel–I call bullshit. Mysteriously, the #OccupyOakland hashtag on twitter has intermittently been inoperative through the night as well. Inadvertent technical glitch or deliberate censorship?
As Davey D tweets, “All folks were doing was trying to create a better living situation for many damaged by economy and now it’s copters & tear gas.” Is this how the U.S. government is going to deal with lawful dissent? If so, we need to be really worried really fast.
My friend Rebecca Solnit has taken up another guerilla tactic, this time on facebook. She posts,
By the way, I just wrote this note to the letters section of the Chronicle and then started posting it on Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s (facebook) wall. It gets taken down after a few minutes. Feel free to post it if you like. “Dear Editors, Even if you’re a conservative you should be against the kind of police brutality we just saw in Oakland, because the courts are not going to be as enthused about beating people bloody, throwing tear gas at crowds that include children, and denying people their civil and constitutional rights. It is going to be really expensive for the city of Oakland to pay for the brutality and denial of rights lawsuits, and the plaintiffs will deserve every penny they get. As for the rest of us, we’re against it because it’s inhumane, undemocratic, and vicious. As well as expensive. Police brutality is an indulgence, a luxury, a spendthrift activity most cities can’t afford any more.”
Mayor Quan, by the way, was a student activist in the Third World Liberation Front at UC Berkeley during the Third World Strike back in 1969. Sadly, her presence, her leadership, and her ethics are nowhere to be found tonight and her absence has allowed the OPD to wild in the streets of Oakland unchecked. Shame on her–
Incredible video of OPD firing teargas into peaceful crowd, shot by Kazu Haga.