Occupy Oakland RIP (10/10/11-10/25/12)
Occupy Oakland emerged out of Occupy Wall Street and then went beyond it. The encampment was an on-going experiment in democracy and anti-capitalist community which was up against Oakland City Hall physically and politically. When Oscar Grant Plaza was raided on 10/25/11, Occupy Oakland fought back. The Oakland General Strike, the West Coast Port shutdowns, the on-going marches, barbeques, housing occupations and political debate changed peoples' lives.
This is a eulogy for that movement and that moment.
Occupy Oakland RIP (10/10/11-10/25/12)
It would be fitting for the last action of Occupy Oakland to be a return to Oscar Grant Plaza and the planting of one tent. But the slogan on the side of the tent should mourn our dead friends and Occupy Oakland itself.
Movements come into existence and then recede or end. Somewhere in the U.S. there is undoubtedly an outpost of the Temperance Society, which was a world-wide movement for over a century, but is now meaningless . When a movement or organization doesn't recognize that it has reached its endpoint, it becomes as welcome as a rotting corpse. Smell one once and you would know what we mean.
The evidence of the end of Occupy Oakland is not this proclamation; others have already pronounced it dead before now. The evidence is that the real work of Occupy Oakland continues in spite of the public spectacle. The housing organizing, the labor solidarity group, the anti-repression group and others can no longer pretend to be under the control or direction of the General Assembly, because that body doesn't exist as a place where serious discussion or, more importantly, decision-making can occur.
Those of us who were at the last General Assembly on Sunday 10/21/12, ask yourself: What did that accomplish?
Name one decision, other than the resignation of the person who did most of the financial work. (And when you lose people like that, who do tedious but necessary work with little thanks for free, it should be a clear sign that something is wrong. That it was a woman who left because of threats by a man just makes it even more telling). Point to us something at that GA that would have drawn in any new person or grouping. Tell us why anyone should return to another GA, much less bring in others.
If we cannot remove or ostracize one person who persists in being disruptive, disrespectful and threatening, what good is the group? If there is no place that decision-making can occur, then how can the group continue?
When anyone can post to the world claiming to be a representative and spokesperson of Occupy Oakland and be taken seriously, not just by the mass media, but also by anarchist and insurgent news sources, then hasn't the time come to end?
To those who wish to return to the Plaza this Thursday to stake a tent or conduct one more FTP march, we pose these questions: What will you do if you succeed? Why is nostalgia more important than defense of the G-Spot or any of the other housing sites that will be fought over? Why should you risk arrest on that night rather than march in solidarity with the family of Alan Blueford and others on November 10th? Will you be there when picket lines go up at the Port in coming weeks? Have you volunteered for the anti-repression committee or People's Community Medics?
There is only one reason left to come to a GA: To officially dissolve Occupy Oakland in order to let there be no legitimate claim to speak or act on its behalf. Also, to divide the funds among the remaining active committees or give the committees the autonomy to decide.
Occupy Oakland is dead. RIP. Let's honor its memory and not prop the corpse up to fool ourselves and others. Let us remember and learn from the experience - and the experiment - of the last year.
Beyond the Barricades, a group of folks who were there getting arrested, and risking arrests, breathing teargas, taking police beatings, and meeting people outside of jail, as well as feeding people, giving first aid, waking up at 4 AM to deal with freak outs, leading marches to the Port, putting glitter on folks and handing out flyers that other people wrote. In other words, people who were part of Occupy Oakland from beginning to end.
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