Oakland police arrested more than 400 Occupy Oakland members who attempted to break into Oakland City Hall, as well as the city’s downtown YMCA building and unused Henry Kaiser Convention Center Saturday afternoon in a protest that involved violence from both sides.
While the Oakland Police Department did not deny its use of smoke, tear gas and non-lethal bullets, it maintained that officers only did so after issuing multiple warnings to the protestors who had begun destroying construction equipment and fencing surrounding the Kaiser center.
“Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares,” according to a statement from Oakland Police Department, released after the use of smoke and tear gas.
So was Occupy Oakland’s Move-In Day a wise idea?
On Dec. 21, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly passed a proposal to occupy and hold a large building for purposes of organization and shelter. And thus, Move-In Day was born.
Since this large-scale protest was coordinated through the Internet, it is clear that Occupy Oakland is already pretty organized despite the lack of an indoor meeting space. And if shelter was the Occupiers’ primary concern, they could have negotiated peacefully through the proper channels. If the city really had “no plans for use” of the Kaiser center (as Occupy Oakland claimed), there would be no reason to withhold it from those who respectfully asked for it for a legitimate purpose.
Thus, the seizure of the community center ““ and the subsequent arrest of more than 400 protestors ““ was unnecessary. It may have even been detrimental to the Occupiers’ cause.
The Occupy movement, which represents a broad expression of frustration with economic inequality, targeted at the United State’s richest citizens, seems to have lost its footing recently.
As of yet, no national political change has been affected as a result of the protests. At best, the Occupiers have managed to annoy local authorities to the point of exasperation and foot the cities they occupy with a steep bill ““ as Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, can attest after estimating Occupy protests’ total damages since October to be $2 million.
So why haven’t they been more effective?
One commonly cited reason is the movement’s lack of concrete goals. While this may be a testament to Occupy’s organic, grassroots structure, it is a hindrance in the long run.
Until the Occupiers solve this problem, authorities will continue to trivialize the movement. And the damage done to public property ““ in this case, the buildings in Oakland ““ does little good for their image.
Occupy should not be working against the politicians or the police. Instead, it should be working with them. If Occupy touts itself as “the voice of the 99 percent,” shouldn’t that voice include police officers and local politicians as well?