Occupy Oakland at the crossroads


In the confrontation between Occupy Oakland protesters and police, charges and countercharges have been flying in the media over whether the cops used excessive force or the protesters resorted to other than non-violent means to repel the city's evacuation of the encampment on the morning of Oct. 25 and in subsequent encounters.

Meanwhile, getting lost is the goal of the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement, which is to make the banks accountable to the people and pay for the mess they created.

The financial sector must be made to pay, through far stricter regulation and funding, massive creation of jobs, meaningful foreclosure measures, aid to states and cities like Oakland, and more.

These are all victims of the capitalist social system, today being ruled by speculators and their firms reaping outrageous profits in the casino-like financial market, producing not one single tangible object.

It is this fictitious economic order - buttressed by the military industrial complex, the energy monopolies, insurance companies and other reactionary sections of capital - that is driving our nation and the world to ruin. And it is precisely these class and social forces that the Occupiers are challenging.

The movement for the 99 percent against the 1 percent is much bigger than any single one of its component parts.

Unquestionably, in launching the Occupy Wall Street movement a month ago, the mostly youthful rebellion captured the moral fiber of the overwhelming majority of Americans against the banks and corporate greed, and more.

Yes, that includes the Occupy Wall Street movement but also other long established movements that have been coming to the fore in recent years, like the organized labor movement, the movement for equality of peoples of color, women, immigrants, the gay community and, most importantly, the youth.

The occupiers are giving expression and, at the same time, impetus to the proposition that the culprit is more than a few bad banks and corporations. They are saying that it's the "system that's not working for us and the 99 percent."

In challenging the very system - capitalism - that's given rise to corporate greed, corruption, erosion of democracy, poverty, gross inequality, war, environmental degradation, racism and all the other isms of the political right wing, the occupiers are doing a great service to the nation and world.

After all, our nation remains the home of the world's most powerful sections of capital, despite the global reach of capitalism today.

I have my personal views of how the situation in Oakland would have been best handled.

Letting loose the Oakland police, which has less than a sterling record of responsible policing, on Occupy Oakland without first exhausting all avenues to resolve the concerns the city had regarding safety was shortsighted. The subsequent police conduct left a lot to be desired.

The demonstrators, who in their overwhelming majority have acted in the spirit of nonviolent civil disobedience Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movement he led established, must continue to take measures to guarantee that remains the tactical guiding mode of action.

At the same time, Oakland's most respected movements and civic leaders must throw their full moral weight behind the Occupy movement and all the social forces - labor and others - that have come to define the 99 percent movement

At this critical juncture, the challenge is for all parties with a direct stake in the future of the movement to overpower the power of the banks and large corporations to come to the table to work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

I think this is necessary and possible.

Other Occupy cities with administrations sympathetic to the Occupy movement have worked out mutually satisfactory arrangements.

That means that everyone with a stake in furthering the cause of the 99 percent bears a heavy responsibility to conduct the struggle in ways that unify and enhance, not undermine, the common cause, which is to put Wall Street up against the wall.

By its very nature, the process of working out differences of outlook and approach by the various groups and forces that make up the 99 percent movement requires give and take in everyone's part.

At the end of the day, it is broad united action around a commonly agreed goal and set of demands that will win the day against the reactionary institutions of capitalism.

The eyes of the nation are on Oakland. Let's not blow it, Oakland!

Photo: Marilyn Bechtel/PW

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • The goal of the Occupy Wall Street protest should be the dismantling of the big banks. It was the banks and their greed which precipitated the current economic mess.

    Of course conditions preceding the bank's shenanigans made it possible for the fall to be so great.

    There should be no such thing as a bank too big to fail. If they get into a mess or their own making, let them go under. The fall out will be of short duration.

    After the dismantling of the banks, attention needs to go to Wall Street itself. No shareholder should be able to make money based on the labor of a worker, whether it be in a factory or in an office.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 10/28/2011 8:59am (4 years ago)

  • The Occupy Oakland General Assembly has passed a resolution for a one-day GENERAL STRIKE on November 2nd. It passed with over 95% in favor, more than 1,400 votes.

    All support to the general strike!

    Let's shut the city down to show them whose got the power!

    Posted by D. Bester, 10/27/2011 9:03pm (4 years ago)

  • Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Says She Will Minimize Police Presence And That She Supports The Movement


    Posted by Charles, 10/27/2011 3:03pm (4 years ago)

  • I attended the demonstration last night and got tear gassed! It was an exhilarating but also very frightening experience!

    Today I wrote a letter to the editor of the Oakland Trubune and indirectly to Mayor Jean Quan which I thought was fairly good but when I returned to my email I found that it had not been sent at all...even though I used a form for that purpose. I wonder why and I don't understand!

    Well, maybe it's a good stroke of misfortune, because the letter was quite critical of Mayor Quan. Since I couldn't get it into the Oakland Tribune, maybe I'll just post it here.

    Subject: Mayor Jean Quan

    To: Inside Bay Area
    The following is a comment or question for the editors or webmaster:

    I am disappointed in you, Mayor Jean Quan. I am beginning to wonder if you are not another Barak Obama politically in that you got elected on the basis of your liberal stance but once you got into office you have already been influenced to turn your back on the people who elected you and to side with the corporate interests instead.

    Maybe you have been coerced or threatened, but to call in the police to put the Occupy Oakland encampment out of Frank Ogawa (aka Oscar Grant) Plaza is a slap in the face of the majority who put you into office. You should welcome the peaceful campers at the Frank Ogawa Plaza because these are the very people you should love. They elected you to represent them!

    The prospect of campers creating a problem should not be more important than changing the conditions the campers are protesting against! This is just the same old blame-the-victim game that has been ongoing for centuries!

    I believe the majority would approve of the the Occupy Wall Street Movement or the Coffee Party Movement. This is because the majority are not doing well at all in this economy and if they have any sense at all they would support this new movement.

    I just wonder Ms. Quan if you would have called in the police if the Tea Party were staging a demonstration? Somehow I don't think so.

    All we have is our Constitutional right of peacefully demonstrating to get our issues heard. We don't have money to pour into the media to support our cause - and so often the mass media doesn't even cover our interest stories or only gives them short shrift and gives more time to the interests of the wealthy. And so often our elected officials turn against us as well because they are bought off by promises and intimidation.

    Well, Mayor Quan, I am already disappointed in your performance as Mayor and I think there are a lot of other people who agree with me. Not only did you allow the cops to do this but you show little remorse about the shooting of and possible permanent disability of a U.S. Marine who fought bravely to defend our country.

    It is such a painful and abhorrent situation for all and I am glad I am not in your shoes now Mayor Quan. It is only fortunate for you and for Scott Olson that he has not died.

    Thank you for your attention.


    Leslie Wilson

    Posted by Leslie Wilson, 10/27/2011 12:09am (4 years ago)

  • The Occupy movement changed the whole national discussion from the "deficit" to the real problems of unemployment, inequality, student debt, etc. Let's keep the focus there and not make the focus police. As this article points out, this takes great thoughtfulness, especially in the face of provocation.

    Posted by Bobbie, 10/26/2011 8:24pm (4 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments