*From the perspective of a woman of color, Oakland resident, and public school teacher. (Many issues have been made to dismiss the truth by citing that the Occupy Movement is a bunch of unemployed white people from out of town and I am none of those) This is my perspective:
One lesson I learned is that Occupy Oakland is a powerful movement and the financial elite are willing to crush the movement by any means necessary.
The march from Oscar Grant Plaza to Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium was festive and peaceful. It was a beautiful day and 2000 plus people took part in the march, all I was thinking as the sun kissed my face was that this was the ideal day for Oakland to rise up and claim a Social Center for the people.
Once we arrived to our destination it was clear that we were not going to be able to claim the building for the people. The closest anyone came to the actual building was about 75 yards away on the other side of a fence. Several individuals began to shake the fence and this caused the police to issue a warning and then they attacked. They launched smoke bombs and flash bang grenades into the crowd of families, strollers and elderly causing the people who could, to scatter.
If rocking a fence causes the OPD to attack, then we must be doing something right. Why do they want to spend million of dollars to silence us? Why do they want to silence us using such violent force?
This made me think about the parallels between the Occupy Oakland and the Civil Rights Movement. The issues and the people involved may seem to be completely different, but they are not. Racial Equality is Economic Equality. Occupy Oakland has been a strong advocate for economic equality, social justice, and judicial equality all of which are desperately needed in Oakland. The Civil Rights Movement fought for the same. The police arrested and brutalized the protestors during the Civil Rights Movements (used water hoses and dogs to attack protestors) and the OPD are doing the exact same thing (409 arrested and only 12 charges filed). During the Civil Rights they tried to disseminate lies about the movement and that is exactly what the Mayor, the police chief, and the media are doing to Occupy Oakland.
A friend of mine said, “It is really hard for people to situate this (Occupy Oakland) politically and historically.” This is a great point and when thinking about this moment I can’t help think about Rosa Parks. Rosa Park, a militant civil rights activist and anti-rape activist for 25 years before she refused to move to the back of the bus, was prepared to take drastic measures to force change in the South. Many people at that time were on the wrong side of history, they thought she was foolish, and didn’t understand why she had issues with following the Jim Crow Laws. That is where we are in this movement, people need to decide if they are ok with the crumbs they are given or are they going to take a stand and fight for their fair share. People need to decide which side of history they want to be on.
Mayor Jean Quan, the police department, and the mainstream media all run by the 1% will stop at nothing to discredit, dismantle, and destroy our movement. We are too powerful. We are and we stand for those unable to stand for themselves. We are and we protest for the workers putting in long hours at low wage jobs. We are and we march for the teachers, social workers, counselors and city workers whose wages continue to decline to help pay for the state’s deficit. We are and we organize for the college graduates without job opportunities available to them. We are and we fight for the rights of the elderly, homeless, and disenfranchised youth.
Another important lesson I learned from the Occupy Move-In Day is that Oakland Occupy Patriarchy is a group of powerful, intelligent, fearless people who held it down on the front lines despite of how violent OPD became. Members of our group did everything in their power to protect the marchers behind them. They deflected tear gas canisters, went out of their way to make sure the rest of us stayed together and were safe, and many were subject to arrest. After witnessing the extradionary bravery from these individuals, it has encouraged me to risk more for the movement, and it has empowered me to speak up and speak out.
We are Occupy Oakland.