Many Oaklanders support the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. We maintained daily communication with the protest0rs in Oakland.
However, over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism. Frank Ogawa Plaza will continue to be open as a free speech area from 6 am to 10 pm.
We want to thank the police, fire, public works and other employees who worked over the last week to peacefully close the encampment. We also thank the majority of the protestors who peacefully complied with city officials.
An NBC crew on the scene reported that the operation was “smooth” and that there was mercifully little violence apart from some pushing and shoving during the arrests. That’s a welcome surprise: Occupy Oakland was the gold standard among the “Occupy” franchises for, er, “direct action,” with one local cop describing the tent city as something out of “Lord of the Flies.” Breitbart TV kept tabs on them via local news reports; scroll through the archives and relive the revolutionary excitement of reporters being warned not to enter the “commune” by a guy with a bandana over his mouth. Zombie went down there a few days ago to take pictures of the encampment. Follow the link to see what the media’s last, best hope for middle America looks like in action.
Meanwhile, new from the Times:
Obligatory caveat: The sample is 35D/25R/34I, which is a smidge more lopsided towards Democrats than usual. Even so, that’s an interesting result in two ways. One: People like what they think OWS stands for but they’re unsure about OWS itself, with a plurality saying they “haven’t heard enough” to form an opinion. How can you know whether you like a group’s ideas when you don’t know much about the group? Could be that people are simply reading their own grievances about bailouts and greedy bankers into the group’s name and assuming that its agenda must be middle-class and mainstream. If they saw reports like Zombie’s, they might think differently — but of course, they haven’t seen many reports like Zombie’s yet, have they? I make a living reading and writing about news/commentary and in the past month, among scores of OWS pieces I’ve read, the only left-wing take I’ve seen that’s been meaningfully critical of the movement’s fringe underpinnings was TNR’s editorial a few weeks ago. Two: The fact that relatively few people have formed an opinion about OWS means the left may still have a window to try to mainstream the movement, but the window’s going to close as the media is compelled to report on bad behavior. The last thing press sympathizers want to cover is a Democratic mayor evicting protesters due to destructive behavior but they’re forced to cover that tonight in Oakland and may be forced to cover it in Atlanta soon enough. Plus, the movement’s numbers are bound to shrink in the near term as the weather turns cold, which makes for an awfully bad “this thing’s taking off!” narrative. If Democrats wanted to get populist traction with an anti-Wall Street movement, they should have done it earlier this year and built it with a middle-class nucleus. Ah well — something to shoot for next spring as The One’s re-election campaign starts rolling.
Update: Mayor Quan to the courtesy phone, please:
Group members say after stopping at the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland, the approximately 500 marchers plan to continue on to Frank Ogawa Plaza.
“We are going to march and reclaim what was already ours, what we call Oscar Grant Plaza and what they call City Hall,” one marcher said.
Early Tuesday, the city ousted protesters who had camped out for two weeks in a tent city at the plaza in front of City Hall. Police started assembling around the tent city at 14th Street and Broadway at about 3 a.m. Half a day later, the protesters are not going quietly.
Shortly before 5 p.m., about 500 people blocked 14th Street in both directions, chanting “power to the people, and then marching through downtown.