To Occupy Oakland

On November 2nd, Occupy Oakland held a general strike which shut down the Port of Oakland. The world was watching and I walked among the masses.

Since I moved to Oakland there has been a lot of happenings with our Occupy movement. Already there was an intense relationship between the police here and the people of Oakland and rightfully so. But to watch the events unfold and the reaction of police to the protest is appalling. My roommates were there the night on october 25th when the police tear gassed Occupy Oakland. I watched from my window as the news helicopters were pushed from the sky before they unleashed on the crowd, so there was no news footage. I counted the cop cars rushing downtown and heard the city had the LRAD ready for use on the crowd. That night sent some to the hospital, including a vet, Scott Olsen, who suffered head trauma. Here I came from a city of no police, which needed help. Now I'm in a city were there are police and they don't care about their people.

On November 2nd in the evening I headed down to the port of Oakland to participate in the marches and show my support. I met so many amazing people and everyone was happy and wishful and downright nice. We marched from the plaza (where Occupy Oakland is located) and headed towards the port. On the way I passed police readying in riot gear with their trucks ready to arrest. At one point there was a crowd of people surrounding a car and parting the way for ambulances to come through and paramedics. A Mercedes had plowed into a group of people walking back from port, the driver had become agitated and pulled into the crowd hitting a man, and as it backed up hit a woman. But the part that made me proud to witness how the crowd surrounded the injured man, called for medics, and blocked the car and driver from getting away until police arrived. And they did not harm the car. So much worse could've happened but I stood there in the crowd and people were calm and they were not seeking revenge against the person who used their vehicle as a weapon.

At the port I met a barricade. I wasn't able to make it to the main port so with my new friends we headed back to the plaza. There was music, people were grilling hamburgers and veggie burgers and all sorts of stuff. There was a memorial with get well wishes to Scott Olsen, and all around pleasantries. And there was a ton of people, old, young, every type of man and woman stood around having a nice time. I hung around but knowing I had a walk home and had already walked for hours that night I left the plaza around 11pm walking past police gathering in riot gear down the street. Falling asleep at home I didn't have any idea what was happening. Later that evening it broke. Police and protesters clashed. The police filled their arrest quota and used more tear gas on the protesters then last time.

The next morning I was driving a friend downtown for an appointment and we saw the result of the last night in the light of the day. There was a window smashed and graffiti on some buildings. Although I don't agree with vandalism I don't think that those events should overshadow the point of Occupy. Yes shit happened and it got out of control, but not one side is to blame. And hell, it could've been worse. I remember worrying about my sister as Cincinnati rose up in riots, only to be controlled when the national government declared martial law. And I've lived seeing the results of the Detroit riots, which the city still hurts from it. This was not like those events, and I felt that the police presence was as though it was. They didn't allow or want it to be peaceful.

What is happening in our country now is the result of people being tired of over looked. My family and Dayton, OH has been greatly affected by the depression (that's right, I think it's worse than a recession although of course not as overwhelming as the Great Depression). And I witnessed the car industry falling in the motor city, Detroit. I've watch friends, and family members struggle to make ends meet, and throughout my last three years after graduation I have sent out over 1000 resumes/coverletters, and interviewed for jobs countless times, yet I have never had a full time job that offered any benefits or 401k and whatnot. I have been turned away from part time retail and fast food jobs. I have lived in the most economically depressed city in the country, watching the foreclosure signs go up daily and the street population rise.

There is something wrong. And something has to change. And I support Occupy.

You don't have to support it, I'm not asking for that. I just wanted to talk about a single day that I had participated in which was a positive great day/evening.

4 comments:

Nicole, Coco Maria | November 8, 2011 at 8:44 PM

This is such a great post, Lauren. My brother lives in Oakland as well, so I've been hearing bits and pieces about what's been going on there from him. It's terrible. But I've heard from people going to Occupy here in New York as well that the sense of happiness and community among the protesters, that you describe here as well, is overwhelming and wonderful.

Amber Blue Bird | November 9, 2011 at 1:42 PM

I heard about t his on the news and still cant believe that it got so violent. What were the police thinking? I mean it didnt seem like any of the protesters were doing anything dangerous. Something really does have to change.

Annebeth | November 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM

omg I have been following the reports around all of the occupy movements closely, so cool that you are participating! I actually saw footage from the Oakland marches that went awry... infuriating how the police reacted. My gut always churns when I see them coming on to people protesting with those clubs.

Victoria / Justice Pirate | November 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Living near NYC, with Occupy Wall Street, I read and saw pictures that people I know have taken where there were some people who have past history experiences with violence who were putting pipes into cardboard as weapons and placing them around in case they need to use them as weapons. It is a shame when people try to ruin things for other people who are doing a good thing.