Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oakland Re-Occupied

Oakland Re-Occupied
The end of civic order.
by John Hayward 10/27/2011

It didn’t take long for the mayor of Oakland to fold like a house of cards, after the Occupy Oakland mob defied lawful orders to relinquish their squatting grounds and provoked a riot. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the fallout:

Late last night, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan issued a statement about the police crackdown against Occupied Oakland protesters. In it, she expressed concern for those injured and a commitment to minimize police presence in Frank Ogawa plaza, at least for now. Her statement follows national and international outcry over police treatment of unarmed protestors.

Jean Quan wrote that she will “personally monitor” investigations of police misconduct. Yesterday, the ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers’ Guild demanded a full investigation. The groups also asked the Oakland Police Department to immediately produce records about the use of force in responding to the early morning raid of the Occupy Oakland encampment and the evening demonstration, and the detention of those who were arrested.

Her statement also expressed “deepest concern for all of those who were injured last night, and we are committed to ensuring this does not happen again.” Iraq Vet Scott Olsen was critically injured by a police projectile and remains at Highland Hospital. Hundreds of others were sickened by tear gas or injured by police violence or projectiles.

According to a photographer quoted in a UK Guardian report, Olsen was “hit in the head with a police projectile. He went down and did not get up.” It sounds like he got hit by a tear gas canister, although there were reports of rubber bullets and beanbags being used as well. It will be up to investigators to determine if the police fired at Olsen’s head on purpose. It seems unlikely.

The law-abiding citizens of Oakland will be glad to know City Hall has been re-occupied by the people who turned it into a crime-infested toxic waste dump, although it’s too early to tell if they’re planning to resume camping overnight:

Occupy Oakland protestors tore down the fences surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza Wednesday night and held a general assembly of 2,000. There were no police in sight. The protestors voted for a general strike on November 2nd, the first in over 65 years of Oakland history.

By the way, why are they still calling it “Frank Ogawa Plaza?” Its new masters have officially renamed it “Oscar Grant Plaza.” Why isn’t the compliant mayor fighting this particular eddy in the tides of history? Occupying forces usually do get to rename the land they seize.

The manner in which police officers conduct an action is always subject to review – that’s part of the difficult territory that comes with being a cop – but the notion of blaming the situation on the police is simply insane. It’s the final dissolution of civic order, a concession that the 300 people who decided to occupy this piece of public real estate are its rightful owners now. The remaining 390,000 citizens of Oakland don’t have anything to say about it.

The city of Oakland went out of its way to accommodate these protesters. They were given a full day’s warning that the time had come to vacate the plaza they had occupied for weeks. A schedule of times when they could come back to practice the energetic exercise of free speech was provided… but unlike the hapless mayor, the protest organizers understand this is about aggression and “occupation,” not competing in the arena of ideas with free speech. They chose to dig in and fight, going so far as to send out Twitter calls for people to “bring bottles.”

Here’s a bit of Mayor Quan’s groveling statement to the mob:

We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.

I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.

Oakland just surrendered to a mob. This is not some kind of “liberation.” It’s thuggery and mob rule at best. The dissolution of public order always comes down to control through brute force. If you’re a law-abiding citizen who disagrees with Occupy Oakland, but you want to access the Frank Ogawa Park, you’re out of luck. What happens if a bigger mob of people who disagree with the Occupy high command decide to come along and take the park for themselves?

Liberals who are still entertaining notions of defending this mob action need to look in a mirror and ask themselves the Tea Party question. What if the Tea Party had occupied a city park for weeks, defied lawful orders to leave from very deferential authorities, organized a violent resistance to the police that resulted in someone getting critically injured, and re-occupied the park while the submissive mayor declared her support for their goals? Honestly, what would you have said about it, and how do you think the media would have reported it? Are you embracing the notion that the police have no right to resist mob actions, and if so, are there any minimum size or ideological requirements a mob should have to qualify for immunity to civil law? Also, does the presence of a military veteran confer absolute moral authority and legal impunity upon any mob, or only leftist ones?

The individual officers who participated in last night’s police action will have to answer questions about their actions, as cops always do. If a fair investigation reveals some of them acted inappropriately, they should face appropriate consequences. While that’s going on, the organizers of Occupy Oakland should be facing charges for inciting the riot. Civilizations that will not defend themselves die beneath the heels of anti-civilization. It’s as true at both municipal and global levels.

To read another article by John Hayward, click here.

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