Occupy Oakland was raided and demolished this morning at 5 AM by over 600 police in a multi-city response that had been rehearsed by the joint force over a year ago in preparation for the verdict on the murder of Oscar Grant.
The photos from SFGate tell the story of who was living there. The homeless of Oakland knew that they could find food, 1st aid and people who actually cared about them at Oscar Grant Plaza (as it was re-named the 1st day of Occupy); many choose to join the encampment. The difficulties of constructing the rules of a new society from scratch made it less than workable at times, but it was never unsafe.
As a political space, Occupy Oakland attempted to be "The Oakland Commune" and in the eyes of some of the anarchists who flocked there, that's what it prefigured. The political attacks on the camp had begun last week with comments from police and right wing hacks about "Lord of the Flies". The mayor of Oakland had embraced the camp when it first appeared. Over a hundred tents had sprouted next to City Hall. But she distanced herself when the camp drew a line between itself and 'politics as usual' and banned politicians from speaking to it.
The mayor, a former radical with radical advisors, was out of town when the raid occurred. Two days earlier, Occupy Oakland had marched to banks and disrupted them. A recall petition against the mayor from the right had just been filed on Monday. The president of the U.S., who had been elected with major financial and political support from the Bay area progressive scene, is scheduled to host a $7,500 a plate dinner in San Francisco today. Local media have been barred. Occupy Oakland will return.
In Atlanta, the occupation at Troy Davis park continues. Though its General Assembly operates on a consensus processes that has proven confused and alienating, the occupation's Radical Caucus has been contributing to the visibility of the anti-capitalist, anti-state, anti-white supremacist presence both in and outside the assembly.
The RC does not operate on consensus (it uses a modified consensus that involves majority voting if consensus is not reached), but manages to make decisions every time it meets. The grouping has tried to push demands that would connect the occupation with a larger cross section of working-class Black and Brown folks in the metro area, and respond to the recent killing of Joetavius Stafford by a MARTA cop.
The RC has been taking heat from some quarters, though, for undermining unity at the occupation, and confrontational moments between the cops or the mayor at Troy Davis Park have been attributed to it.
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On the National O22 Day of Action against Police Brutality, a spontaneous snake march eventually led to a sit-down occupation of a side street near the Philly Police HQ. The small and mostly white crowd occupied the street and held a speakout and discussion of police violence. They blocked the street overnight, with police strategically holding back, and were arrested the following day. The grouping issued a list of demands which, while awfully long, were pretty good in terms of content.
Members of BtR and others, largely drawn from the Anti-Racist Working Group, are spearheading the creation of a Radical Caucus as a vehicle to push an anti-capitalist, anti-police, and action-oriented agenda in the occupation. The caucus is currently developing possible demands and actions.
New York City
The occupation of Zuccotti Park / Liberty Plaza continues in downtown Manhattan, with teach-ins and marches happening in the space daily. Members of BtR participated in the successful defense of the park on October 14th, when many thousands of people came out early in the morning to risk arrest and prevent the encampment from being evicted.
The following day the movement went on the offensive, with dispersed actions across the city and a massive rally in Times Square, clashing with police at many points, but failing to take control of a new location. Cops prevented a large assembly from taking control of Washington Square park that evening, and pre-empted an attempt to expand to a nearby community garden.
For now, things seem to have reached a fragile equilibrium. Local assemblies are beginning to meet in Brooklyn, Harlem, Washington Heights and the Bronx, some with reported police harassment. A few nights ago, a crowd of medics (plus Jesse Jackson) linked arms to prevent police from dismantling the medical tent at Liberty Plaza. BtR Members are participating in and supporting the work of the People of Color Working Group / Caucus downtown, and the Bronx General Assembly up north, to support the spread of the occupation wave in working class communities of color in the boroughs.