- Title: MZ000247
- Length: 8:28 minutes (11.62 MB)
- Format: MP3 Stereo 44kHz 192Kbps (CBR)
At January 4, 2012 Oakland’s General Assembly some were lamenting the regular police harassment. Riding a bike in the downtown plaza, something I have done on numerous occasions in plain sight of police and paid security, is cause for arrest. Using a shade umbrella to create a space is illegal. Accumulated trash is cause for a sweep but trash cans are not acceptable. Another member reminds everyone that the continued surge of response from folks (there is close to one hundred people) underscores how successful Occupy Oakland is – in fact, in the face of continued harassment, Occupy Oakland remains.
As police gather and appear to be staging to clear the plaza yet again, Laura coaches the group in street theater designed to engage as human beings and override roles. She wants some to mimic, imaginary mic in hard, reporters who will comment on how nicely attired the police officer is, or how healthy the officer appears (“Must be taking good care of yourself. Do you exercise?”). You get the picture: absurdist theater that sustains human recognition.
Unfortunately, the plaza was later raided by 60 police. No time for theater. It is now routine to be arrested on charges which are later dropped but involve court fees which are clearly intended to drain Occupy Oakland accounts. Here is a first hand account posted on Facebook by Ingrid Martin, a member of the Interfaith Group that has been keeping vigil at the plaza since overnight camping was banned:
Tonight, the OPD, assumably backed by the city, acted with such complete disregard for the law that our immediate action is required in protest. At about 11pm, Sri Louise and I were at the Interfaith Umbrella on Frank Ogawa Plaza, making political signs and keeping an eye on a sweet puppy named Jasmine. Others around us were gathered in small clusters talking, using computers at a new power station someone had rigged up, and eating food some of us brought to share. There were maybe 50 or 60 people total. .It was all so peaceful and beautiful, and then the cry went out: “Riot Police! Watch out!” Sure enough, more than a dozen cruisers had pulled up at high speed and were now disgorging scores of police in riot gear, who immediately began advancing on us with no order to disperse, no warning, and no explanation of what they were doing. One protester, Sven La Rose, stepped forward and began to speak to the police about what they were doing. They had him on the ground in seconds and immediately handcuffed him. Meanwhile, I was nearly taken as I stopped to grab the blankets we had at the umbrella. Several police were advancing on me, forcing me forward and telling me to move or be arrested. Meanwhile, Sri was shouting for help moving a man who was drunk and asleep and who had a dog with him. We did get him up and out of harm’s way, but fourteen of our people were taken in all, including two who actually had left the scene and crossed the street to avoid arrest, and who were arrested by cops who deliberately broke away and went after them as targets. (Both are African American men who have demonstrated leadership in two different areas of the movement.) An attorney then appeared on the scene and offered to go with us to the jail to try to get people out, since they had clearly been arrested without the police following legal procedure. We marched there but were prevented from getting there by a line of police advancing on us and yelling for us to “Get back.” The attorney, Sri, several other witnesses and I then went around the corner to the public entrance to the jail lobby, which we entered. Immediately someone started saying over a PA that we were trespassing and needed to leave or be arrested. Meanwhile, someone opened the opposite door, and a group of protesters entered, and then several dozen sherriff’s deputies came out and told us we had ten seconds to choose one representative and get out. They then advanced on us while counting backward from ten, and we chose the attorney (who was lovely–I will get her name) and stood outside videotaping her through the glass. The deputies told her very aggressively to leave and go to the police station across the street where our people were being held. We did that, but the police station told us they had no holding facilities and that we should go back to the jail. It was a classic run-around consisting of blatant lies to an attorney who was trying to represent clients.
Ingrid continues: This action tonight is the most serious violation of first amendment rights I have ever seen. It is mind-boggling. We were doing nothing wrong. We were simply present in a public square as part of a movement that is being targeted for repression. We have to respond and respond with clarity of purpose and intent.
Please invite other love warriors right now, to join you at 2pm at the plaza. We propose to erect the canopy and then go into city hall to occupy the mayor’s and city administrator’s offices. I know this is short notice and that many of you haven’t been spending time at the plaza, nor do you know the people impacted by this. I don’t know how to say to you how upsetting and urgent this is. These people have done nothing wrong. They are political prisoners currently being held without charge. We must demand their release and the release of all Occupy Oakland political prisoners and an end to the police harassment of peaceful protesters.
Sri and I will lead an action with whoever will come with us. If you come, wonderful. If not, that’s fine, too. There will be a risk of arrest, of course, although an order to disperse should be given before arrests are made. I plan to use the nonviolence pledge to develop a set of requests we will ask protesters to agree to, including nonviolence and a spirit of love rather than revenge. I am very sorry about the short notice, but next week is too late, and if we wait until Friday, we are likely to spend all weekend in jail.
Ingrid ends her account with: It would be a great asset to have many members of the faith community present, but we will go with whoever is willing to go with us. Please wear clergy collars or other religious garb if you have it.
If Ingrid’s report bothers you, make contact with your local occupy. If you do not have a local occupy group, call your friends together and occupy someone’s kitchen table, if you work, occupywatercooler, occupyyourfavoritebar, occupyyourcoffeeshopline, occupyyourfamilyplayground, occupyyourlibrarysteps, occupytheorangedisplay at your grocery store, occupyyourfacebookpage and challenge this first hand account with the compassion of connection. Then imagine what it is like to keep that connection going. We human beings have evolved beyond foreclosures based on predatory lending practices and bank withholdings, beyond the new surge of poverty in the face of increased exorbitant wealth, beyond the increasing college drop out rates as tuition escalates. Decolonize the system that don’t work. This is the Fall of Appall and the Resurgence of the Mindfulness of Compassion. Multiply Occupy.