The city does acknowledge, however, that police used tear gas against Occupy Oakland activists, but only for their own safety.
And it further claims that there were no reported injuries from the assault, despite widespread reports of an Iraq veteran listed in critical condition with a fractured skull and brain swelling after being struck by a police projectile.
This obvious attempt at damage control is doing nothing but further infuriating the activists, who are planning on returning to Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of city hall at 6 p.m. Pacific Time tonight.
Judging by the outrage on Twitter and on Facebook, their numbers are expected to multiply, which means police will probably be even more aggressive.
But judging by last night’s confrontation, we really can’t depend on the mainstream media to get to the heart of the matter.
The Washington Post, for example, posted a photo of a cop petting a kitten in its coverage of the mayhem this morning, despite the fact that the unfolding violence against protesters was being reported all over Twitter. The Post provided an explanation here.
The fallout from the police aggression is only now heating up with demands that Mayor Jean Quan to step down and a movement to recall her underway.
Quan, who initially said supported the protesters, gave the order last week to send in more than 500 cops to clear the camp on Monday when she knew she would be clear across the country in Washington D.C.
She is receiving loads of criticism on her Facebook page where she gave the following statement:
“We want to thank the police, fire, public works and other employees who worked over the last week to peacefully close the encampment. We also thank the majority of the protestors who peacefully complied with city officials.
I commend Chief Jordan for a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated and concerned our community.”
She apparently will remain in D.C. tonight as her city prepares for another night of conflict.
While Occupy Oakland activists claim they were peacefully demonstrating, there have been accusations that the movement has been hijacked by group of extreme radicals who want nothing more than a confrontation with police, which is a contradiction from what we’ve seen on Occupy Wall Street.
According to the San Jose Mercury-News:
This is precisely the kind of critical thinking, analysis and thoughtful probing that is so conspicuously absent from the Occupy Oakland movement. Instead, large numbers of well-meaning people who are justifiably concerned about the excesses on Wall Street, the inequities on the streets of East and West Oakland, or the problem of homeless people in the center of downtown, are silenced by angry people who seem to want little more than a violent confrontation with the police.
Take the case of Dana Frasz, a 27-year-old from Maine who is passionate about social change and is trying to start a food recovery organization in Oakland to help feed people. When she showed up at the protest and asked a woman how she could help, the woman shouted, “Get out of my face right now!” Frasz’s friends, meantime, were put off by marches and meetings in which the constant refrain was, “(Expletive) this, (expletive) that, (expletive) the police.”
“I understand that people are angry; I get it, everyone’s angry,” said Frasz. “I’m completely supportive of the movement, but I don’t think my experience or the way that Occupy Oakland is being run is a reflection of the movement overall.”
Many others seem to agree. Russ Tilleman, a 52-year-old retired engineer and self-described activist, worked briefly to assist the movement with its media relations until a couple of the more radical people inside the camp threatened his life repeatedly. He now only shows up with friends who can help him out if he’s threatened again. It was Tilleman who helped defend a young photography student who was at the movement to document the faces of some of the protesters. The student was also threatened and had to leave. These are not isolated incidents.
We’ve already seen that antagonistic attitude towards the media, so it’s not difficult to believe the above statements. The division within the movement is highlighted in this Mother Jones article as well as the video below.
Oakland has a long history of militant activism, starting from when the Black Panthers were founded in the city in 1966.
And it appears that militancy has crept into the Occupy Oakland movement, placing it at a polar opposite from Occupy Wall Street, which was spawned by activists in their 20s who are against instigating violent confrontations with police.
Right now, public sympathy is leaning towards the activists, but that can quickly change if the violent radicals within the group overshadow the peaceful resisters.
And that goes the same for police who can easily turn a peaceful protest into a riot by getting overly aggressive.
I guess we’ll find out in a couple of hours.
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