Occupy Oakland - update based on online media
The situation at OO appears fluid. There's no resolution on the nonviolence issue. A police raid appears likely in the next several days (probably by Monday).
On Wednesday, Quan finally entered the camp and spoke to a few protesters. She also announced that the Occupation at Frank Ogawa Plaza would have to end and that a majority of the city council had consensed on removing the encampment. A press conference was held by five city council members and business leaders a few blocks away, and was shouted down by Occupy protesters. One of the city council members present, Desley Brooks, was initially a supporter of OO and had spent two nights camping there early in the occupation, but is now aggressively pushing for removal of the encampment. Also, the city cut off water and power for Frank Ogawaw Plaza (so no water for kitchen and exacerbation of safety issues at night). Articles about these events here, here, and here.
At the camp, the split on the topic of nonviolence vs "diversity of tactics" continues. From online postings, it appears that many Oaklanders who do not agree with the use of violence/vandalism have been leaving the encampment and stating that they will no longer participate in OO events. And to some extent, the OO camp itself may be dividing. Some OO participants are attempting to reach out to OWS and other occupations for help. Here's one such post at the forum site of OccupyWallStreet.org (trolls dominate the comments for some forum posts here, but not for this posting). One thing I also find striking - a surprising number of occupiers at other sites appear unaware of these events in Oakland and initially disbelieve them (arguing that this can't be happening since Occupy is a nonviolent movement; that the reports of black bloc vandalism must be MSM falsehoods, etc.). At OO, there appears to be an expanding, problematic "anti-peace police" and "anti-snitch" culture, turning on some of the nonviolence advocates. At the same time, there seems to be an overwhelming desire by many in OO to maintain solidarity (especially given the likely impending raid). And though there's a major schism on the nonviolence issue, I see many comments about bonds that have grown (that cross the use-of-violence divide) due to protracted work together, the shared challenges of adversity, and the shared (radicalizing) experience of police brutality.
For the OO GA Wednesday night, I watched the livestream. Close to 900 people attended. Attendence was boosted by a GOTV effort by proponants of a nonviolence proposal.
Several points from Wednesday's OO GA:
1. The $20,000 that OO currently has in Wells Fargo will be transferred to a community bank in Alameda.
2. Two "nonviolence" proposals were presented. The first, a relatively vague proposal apparently put together by a few OO members, essentially sought to encourage black block advocates to constrain use of black bloc tactics. The proposers stated that in retrospect it was probably not wise to use black block tactics during the general strike. The proposal stated that black block should not be used against local business, especially those that have supported OO. It also urged people who wished to use black bloc tactics to consider the nature of the event - it shouldn't be used at events seeking to draw the general public (e.g. where people have been encouraged to bring children and kittens) or during community-engagement events. And it also encouraged people who favor nonviolence to dialogue with those who favor violence/vandalism to try to discourage its use. This proposal appeared to be a very earnest attempt by people who personally favor nonviolence yet who wished to maintain a "big tent" (an approach that they hoped would keep black bloc anarchists on board and that would garner sufficient support to pass the GA). It failed miserably, with only a 15% yes vote. The biggest complaint was lack of clarity of the language. Proponants of the inclusion of black bloc and violent tactics were unhappy because of the constraints it attempted to place and many nonvioloence proponants were unhappy because it wouldn't effectively prohibit violence/vandalism, and the language might be interpreted as legitimizing black bloc tactics.
The statements against excluding violent tactics/vandalism predominantly came down to a few major arguments.
a. Why should OO repudiate violence when the most severe violence - resulting in all the serious injuries - was by police. That the recent focus on window smashing, fires, etc. was entirely misplaced and lacked perspective given what the police had done.
b. The argument that destruction of property is not violence.
c. The idea that OO needs solidarity and inclusiveness (and that nonviolence proposals exclude people and useful tactics).
d. The argument that one can only decide on what tactics are appropriate in the context of ongoing events, so a decision in advance that precludes certain tactics would be a mistake.
3. Just before the main nonviolence proposal was to be presented, it was withdrawn. Apparently the decision to withdraw the proposal resulted from intensive discussion between proposers, unions, grassroots groups, etc. The reason given was that at the current juncture (i.e. an implicit reference to the impending police raid, etc.), solidarity was perceived as more important than a discussion on nonviolence. I suspect a secondary unstated reason was recognition (based on crowd responses and prior speakers) that the proposal probably could not get enough votes to pass the 90% threshold. However, based on the statements of the speaker who withdrew the proposal, the stated rationale (the need to prioritize solidarity given the current situation) seemed genuine. It should be noted that the proposers, though allies of Quan in the community, apparently put forward the proposal without official sanction (this wasn't clear last night - but it now seems that it might have been something of a genuine community-based attempt).
4. There was a proposal to take over another unoccupied building. This was rejected. The rejection might in part have been due to the attendence of many who came to support the nonviolence proposal. Also, the proposers wished to remain anonymous, and thus could not answer any of the many GA clarifying questions about the proposal.
Also, a subsequent tweet:
angrywhitekid Scott Campbell
But building occupation may go forward autonomously. #occupyoakland
Finally, after the GA concluded, Susie Cagle (OO member and journalist) sent the following tweet:
susie_c Susie Cagle
#occupyoakland man just announced autonomous action: forming group of peace marshals who will confront violent and vandalizing people.
I'm also going to append some Wednesday tweets from GonzoOakland (useful source of info re OO)
#occupyoakland 's disruption of today's press conference is the best thing that could have happened to the people who want the camp gone.
@HowardEastOakld I agree the camp should be all inclusive in its process. So far that's been problematic. The unpopular are shouted down
Non-violence proposal dropped for the purpose of unity. #occupyoakland
Apparently the proposers debated among themselves and people, including union leaders, favored unity over a non-violence debate.
There are a lot of pro-black bloc anti-capitalist types here are wearing Chrome bags that cost $200 and up. #occupyoakland
@occupyOaklandRT @crachlis Now that violence has won its time to leave you on your own]
@USDayofRageFL exactly. I have good sources in City Hall that expect a raid and total eviction of #occupyoakland by Monday.
@USDayofRageFL this is becoming an echo chamber, and it will be the undoing of all of it.
An International Socialist member with a communist moustache was just briefly booed by anarchists at #occupyoakland
#occupyoakland GA Speaker: "We are really strong, we can do whatever we want." ... Wrong.
@GonzOakland Can't say I blame them if protesters cannot commit to non violence]
@USDayofRageFL me neither. They've dug their own hole.
Another minor comment. The first use of tear gas in Oakland was during the raid of the encampment - with police stating that the tear gas was in response to objects being thrown at them, predominatly from the kitchen area. I'd earlier stated skepticism that objects had been thrown at the police during that raid. But yesterday I came across an account from an occupier who credited black bloc with permitting his escape from arrest - someone in black bloc apparently threw an object at the cop who was arresting him, hitting the cop and knocking him over (if I recall the account correctly, the cop was hit in the head with a jar; I'd like to include the link here, but couldn't locate it again today).