In-fighting among factions, identity issues mark Occupy Oakland first anniversary (Analysis)

  • Posted on: 25 October 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Local</a>

<p>A year ago, when Occupy Oakland began, it seemed like the beginnings of a new grassroots political movement, uniting social, economic and institutional justice movements under one banner. <br /><br />Twelve months later - on the anniversary of the Oct. 25, 2011, police raid on Occupy’s downtown encampment - the movement has become a mucked-up mess, smeared by in-fighting and finger-pointing, which has overshadowed its larger goals. </p><p>In the past few weeks, several Occupy-affiliated factions have issued pointed communiqués through various websites and blogs, both official and unofficial. Instead of focusing their energies on targeting an unjust system, what we’ve been seeing is — cue the banjoes — dueling propaganda aimed at internal divisions within the movement itself. The irony is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.</p><p>On Oct. 9, Oakland rapper Boots Riley, one of OO’s more visible faces, wrote a Facebook <a href=" denouncing vandalism, which was widely circulated through the blogosphere. Riley stated, “The use of the blac bloc tactic in all situations is not useful. As a matter of fact, in situations such as the one we have in Oakland, its repeated use has become counter-revolutionary.” </p></td><td><img title="Q: I want a sandwich? A: Black Bloc!!!" src=""></td></t...
<p>Riley went on to add, “When almost every conversation I have with folks from Oakland about Occupy Oakland has the smashing of windows brought up as a reason people don’t like that grouping … it means the tactic is not working.” </p><p>On Oct. 12, a poster identified as “OccupyTheMob” <a href="">posted</a> an online diatribe against the Oakland Commune – an OO-identified group largely populated by anarchists – whom it labeled “agents of mass vandalism” and a “racist, criminal organization” composed primarily of “a group of ideological extremists relocated to Oakland in order to foment chaos and destruction.”</p><p>On Oct. 16, Occupy Oakland Media – a splinter group, which branched out from and launched its own <a href="">website</a> last March – issued a <a href="“Collective Statement on the Oakland Commune.”</a> In it, OOMedia distanced itself from the Commune, who they called a “vanguard clique.” </p><p>According to OOMedia, the Commune’s “disruptive beliefs and actions” include: “embracing destruction for its own sake … actively co-opting the encampment by renaming it according to their values … shutting down all critical conversation of violence, vandalism and ‘diversity of tactics’ … alienating and swaying opinion against peaceful protesters …&nbsp; [and] planning to infiltrate and instigate unrest in Oakland with or without the participation or consent of the people.”</p><p>OOMedia went on to note, in addition to an Oct. 25 press conference, they were planning to start “an apology campaign to heal the rift between the community and Occupy Oakland.”</p><p>For many in the community who had initially been supportive of Occupy, but had grown disenchanted after it became evident that no disavowal of violent tactics and vandalism was forthcoming from OO’s official media engine, this was exactly what they had hoped to hear. The only problem was, it seemed to come several months too late, long after the tens of thousands who shut down the Port of Oakland last Nov. 12 had stopped supporting the movement.</p><p>Nevertheless, the OOMedia statement caused a stir within Occupy circles and social media comment boards and quickly resonated throughout the remnants of the national Occupy movement. </p><p>As blogger Kevin Zeese <a href=" on the Occupy Washington, D.C. website on Oct. 17, “Perhaps no other Occupy has seen the turn in fortunes that Occupy Oakland has seen. Initially it was one of the most successful occupies in the country, drawing tens of thousands to their events, shutting down the port, organizing a mass general strike and having broad appeal to a diverse group of Oaklanders. Then a cadre of Black Bloc - who, we are repeatedly told, are mostly white and come from out of town - began to vandalize stores and seek conflict with the police. Now, Occupy Oakland has shrunk and lost community support. This week it has taken the first steps toward re-starting.”</p><p>However, on Oct. 19, the Occupy Oakland Tribune published an <a href=", which later appeared on on IndyBay, challenging the credibility of OOMedia, claiming, “The Occupy Oakland Media Collective does not represent Occupy Oakland … . The only true representative of the movement is the General Assembly.” </p><p>The article also noted, “Occupy Oakland does not have a position for or against vandalism and activists have varying attitudes toward this tactic,” and stated – somewhat tellingly – “The General Assembly no longer has large enough attendance to reach quorum–requiring at least 75 people.”</p><p>Not to be outdone, an Oct. 22 <a href="">post</a> on - OO’s “official” website - attributed to the Anti-Repression Committee responded to allegations over mismanagement of funds earmarked for bailing out arrested Occupiers, which were called “baseless accusations.” The post went on to note numerous threats being made against Occupiers who have refused to disavow vandalism and property destruction, noting, “anarchists amongst us have been especially targeted with threats and vigilante violence.</p><p>“We are deeply concerned,” the post continued, “by the increasing&nbsp;demonization&nbsp;of ‘anarchists,’ the ‘black bloc,’ and ‘outsiders’ now being conflated under the term the ‘Oakland Commune.'”</p><p>It’s hard to know what to make of the effort to reform OO – and the backlash against that effort. There’s no way to tell at this point if this is an honest attempt by a sincere group to renounce tactics widely criticized as ineffective or just a nasty internal squabble that has become public. Without the consensus of a governing body, it’s also questionable whether any entity has the power to quell individuals hell-bent on wreaking destruction in Occupy Oakland’s name.</p><p>At this point, some of you are probably wondering, “will the real Occupy Oakland please stand up?” Many others probably stopped caring about OO long ago. A cynic might opine that Occupy protested itself into irrelevancy or point to the millions of dollars incurred by the city of Oakland in clean-up costs and police overtime. A keen observer might note that in addition to the co-option by anarchists espousing black bloc tactics who steered the movement toward destructive ends, OO lost sight of its original goals - namely, being in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street actions against corrupt banks and connecting that struggle to the foreclosure crisis in the Bay Area, as well as ongoing social justice and police accountability efforts. </p><p>While the seemingly inexorable march toward federal receivership of the embattled Oakland Police Department initially got a boost from egregious use-of-force violations during Occupy protests, the ongoing “F—k The Police” marches - many of which have resulted in random acts of property destruction - have only sparked public outrage. In and of themselves, they’ve had no impact whatsoever on the ongoing court proceedings over police reform, which have been going on since 2003. </p><p>The anti-police, pro-vandalism FTP events became, for many, the most visible evidence of Occupy’s continued existence in the several months since the eviction of the encampment. However, they’ve also completely obscured – and acted counter-intuitively to – a widely-overlooked fact: During the week of the raid on the encampment, crime in Oakland dropped 19 percent overall. </p><p>In hindsight, that statistic stands out. It seems to suggest that while Occupy remained focused on nonviolent, peaceful protest and continued to draw large numbers of Oakland residents to Ogawa Plaza area, it had a calming effect on the city, deterring crimes, which might have taken place elsewhere. That’s something to keep in mind, especially given OPD’s recent report that crime is up 20 percent citywide.</p><p>As we approach the presidential election of 2012, the great tragedy of Occupy Oakland is what might have been. </p><p>Had OO not dissolved into open dissent against itself, it might have continued to influence the national debate over social and economic inequity, perhaps to the point of generating a headwind of momentum toward electoral change. A once-inclusive vision became myopic. That’s a shame, because as the third Obama-Romney debate showed, there is not nearly enough separation between Democratic and Republican positions on many issues, both domestic and foreign. Without the swell of populist support Occupy could have provided, in all likelihood, the November election will not result in the meaningful systemic overhaul Occupiers had hoped their grassroots movement would spark a year ago.</p><p>Follow Oakland Local's Occupy coverage at <a href=""></a></p><div class="view view-about-author view-id-about_author view-display-id-node_content_1 view-dom-id-1">


no ones gunna get that breaking shits cool. I don't think your peaceful demonstrations are pointless, or cancerous. Why can't you just respect my choice to use property destruction to get my point across?

John Zerzan criticized Boots Riley and his Marxist politics back years ago in an issue of Anarchy magazine over 10 years ago.

on the other hand zerzan is also a total fucking clown

You've written more about Anarchism than he has ? Get out of here, Marxist !

There is a clown that has written more about anarchism than me. Therefore he is not a clown and I am a Marxist.

Agreed, you're probably a huge Murray Bookchin fan or something.

Murray Bookchin wrote more on anarchy than you so therefore he is not Murray Bookchin and you are a democratic socialist.

Murray Bookchin wrote more on Libertarian Municipalism than you so therefore he is Murray Bookchin and you are still a Marxist or a Green Party organizer.

Marx wrote more about anarchy than you so therefore he is not Marxist and you are more Marxist than Marx.

Everyone on this website as written more about anarchism than Karl Marx. Get out of here, Black Flame !

Everyone on this website has written more about anarchism than any one person on this website, therefor they are not everyone on this website.

"the movement has become a mucked-up mess, smeared by in-fighting and finger-pointing, which has overshadowed its larger goals."

Um, excuse me. Occupy was never a monolithic movement. It was a mess from the start because different groups came with different goals with clashing agendas while employing different tactics. Conflicts of interest have always pooped up and will always pop up so long as there is a middle class with middle class interests that conflict with insurrectionist and or anarchist interests. We are not all the same and we are not all in this together. None of us are living the same struggle in any of these movements or the time in between them.

The only time everyone will desire the same goal is when everyone is forced into the same living situation which is probably no going to happen for a lifetime given the power of the Fed to print it's way out of disaster. It can last a very long time. Maybe another 30 years. Most of us will be dead by that time. While the music is still playing, our destiny is out of our hands. Best to have fun while you can because getting mad is never going to solve anything.

Risking jail time isn't worth risking jail time unless everyone is risking jail time so that no one has to go to jail. I'll stick my neck out for the big time actions and keep to myself for the little stuff. Occupy Anniversary isn't worth the risk any more. Too small and the next movement will be big enough to riot but the conflicts of interest will always remain until the very end of the collapse.

That will spark a lot more than little pockets of resistance dressed in all black.

Fuck you for trying to interject thoughtful and reasoned critique into the comments of an (a) news article. It's completely innapropriate and completely out of place. There's plenty of space for people who choose to have reasonable and intelligent discussion on the internets. Why would you come here to invade this loosely anti-authoritarian version of 4chan that exists for my personal amusement? RCP troll assholes go home!

Get out of here, Common Struggle- A Libertarian Communist Organization !

yeah, you're right, he's funny and makes me smile. just like a clown.

Enough of this silly debate, just because I don't like Zerzan doesn't make me a marxist. John Zerzan makes me laugh, Chris Hedges makes me think...Chris Hedges has done more to increase my understanding of anarchism than zerzan. Hedges attacks the republican oligarchy that is destroying us on a daily basis.

You're a liberal.

If reading Chris Hedges, Black Flame, and similar stuff makes me a liberal, well so be it.

damn straight. The Coup's marxist understanding of Occupy is that puss-in-Boots Riley should be leading it with his vanguardist buddies. The person below who hates Zerzan because they're a Murray Bookchin, Chris Hedges, Black Flame type of radical liberal is probably a defender of puss-in-Boots.

Yet somehow they managed to put all that aside and be represented by the same agency, Evil Twin Booking.

This, this right here, is why we keep criticism INTERNAL.

We fail to keep it internal because there's no actual body for it to be inside. Our awful sense of "we" is built more on psuedo-public manifestations like this newsblog or even facebook than on face-to-face contact. You can say "keep it inside" forever but no one will if there's no inside to keep it in.


Let us join the serious ill-logic that rules everywhere on the left, post-left, beyond the left...

Occupy has no plan. Anarchists have no plan. Therefore Occupy equals anarchism.

"[T]he Five Thousand elected from their own number a hundred commissioners to draw up the constitution. They, on their appointment, drew up and produced the following recommendations. There should be a Council, holding office for a year, consisting of men over thirty years of age, serving without pay. To this body should belong the Generals, the nine Archons, the Amphictyonic Registrar (Hieromnemon), the Taxiarchs, the Hipparchs, the Phylarch, the commanders of garrisons, the Treasurers of Athena and the other gods, ten in number, the Hellenic Treasurers (Hellenotamiae), the Treasurers of the other non-sacred moneys, to the number of twenty, the ten Commissioners of Sacrifices (Hieropoei), and the ten Superintendents of the mysteries. All these were to be appointed by the Council from a larger number of selected candidates, chosen from its members for the time being. The other offices were all to be filled by lot, and not from the members of the Council." the A-team

Reading Aristotle in one hand, masturbating with the other hand....

trolling with two hands and your dick up your nose.

another anarchist offering precisely nothing. par for the course.

the a-team

when are you going to figure out that we don't care enough about your Aristotle love to give a damn about offering you anything?

This A-Team (Authoritarian Team) person reads one book about Murray Bookchin glorifying Athenian Direct Democracy and, of course, they take their debate to an anarchist-oriented website. This is why people should not take Bookchin seriously. The above douchebag who's a Bookchin, Chris Hedges, Black Flame advocate is exactly the reason why people are confused about anarchism.

lol, wow. the only reason nothing big is happening is because there is no major 'commune' that your acts of resistance will help to grow and expand. A broken window is irrelevant when there isn't any large communal existence behind it (this doesn't mean tents, they way we lived is the most important). Despite what some anti-social types may think, this is the fucking straight truth. If you want to expand empowerment, and actually be relevant to working-people, build the commune, grow it, and defend it at any costs. Until then expect to be isolated in your action. Not with fucking tents. You cant do this with tents anymore. A mixture of ungovernable communes within communities you belong to under a solid network of resistance is what yall need.

"Y'all" is spelled with an apostrophe. "Working-people" is spelled with an anachronism.

1) Capitalism is the wrong system to be forming anarchist communes to change the world.
2) Giving up is better than trying because trying produces the same result, FLAT OUT ZERO!
3) We're fucked!

Yes. We're all fucked. Good observation.

Now hear this! Now hear this! How much would you pay for some 1 to slap you in the face for 15 minutes? :))

"Y'all" is spelled with an apostrophe. "Working-people" is spelled with an anachronism."
if there were "best of" tags for anews, this would get one.

Look, I think we all know what the real problem is; we need more theory!

Boots Riley here again, I just want to say that yesterday's #O25 anniversary rally & march was boring, only 2 arrests and not a single window was smashed. Let's kick last night's momentum up a notch. I'm making a proposal for an actual revolutionary type event: in WALNUT CREEK. Let's attack the bourgeoisie where they live. More info about distribution of guns and ammunition TBA - CLASS WAR NOW

Don't much of the wealthy live in Orinda and Berkeley Hills. Thanks for the info, puss-in-boots o'riley.

funny troll is funny


This is not Boots Riley. You can recognize my stle when it is. Also- I didn't critique "vandalism". I critique one aspect of bb tactics in one situation.

How many times do you have to correct people's misinterpretations of that Facebook editorial before you realize that maybe it's not their fault for reading it wrong, it's your fault for writing something pointlessly inflammatory that obviously accomplished nothing other than serving as an indicator to the world that OO is dead and that U.S. radicalism is hopelessly fragmented? It's great that your critique had more nuance than everyone thought, but the fact that everyone is STILL reading it as "black bloc destroyed OO" should tell you that all these misinterpretations are your fault and your fault alone. And whether they agreed or disagreed, everyone read it for what it was: an obit. If you really thought that posting that shit to Facebook would push the dialogue and strengthen the movement, you must be even more of a Maoist than we thought.

Oh yeah, let's just forget the small matter of a propaganda machine.....No matter what you say, you're still an obnoxious sociopathic whore who has taken advantage of a tragic situation to make $$$$$ and write your exploitative garbage (and other 'perks'). ...SOooooo, keep "announcing my death" . It's actually hilarious to have academic mall of america writers doing this.

art's dead! opera's dead! poetry's dead! politics are dead! humanity is dead!....bla blah blah blah

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