If Oakland Was...(Insert Any Foreign City Here)

A Navy veteran holding a copy of the Constitution stares down Oakland police
If I wasn't a Twitter user I'm not sure I'd have any idea that the Oakland police once again went HAM on Occupy Oakland protesters tonight. If I relied on traditional media, I'd probably think that the most important thing to happen is Rick Perry stirring the Obama birth certificate pot, or maybe the results from Dancing With the Stars.

But when tweets from people I follow started rolling in describing Oakland PD tear gassing and shooting rubber bullets at protesters, I found myself wondering, what exactly is the crime being committed that warrants such a response from law enforcement?  Protesting?

A statement from the Oakland PD says they gassed because the Occupy Oakland protesters were throwing paint at the police. Um, OK. I watched a lot of the livestreaming happening from people's cell phones and it certainly didn't seem like paint was being thrown.

I'm not sure where the paint was in this video, either:

The first time I watched that video tonight, my 10-year-old, Mr. O, came into the living room and peered over my shoulder. "Where's that?" he asked, "Somewhere in Afghanistan?"

He was shocked when I told him it was in Oakland. "You mean Oakland that we've been to?" he asked.

One and the same. And if this went down in any other city in the world, we would condemn it.

I get that the conditions in the Occupy Oakland camp in Oscar Grant Plaza may have become dangerous and unsanitary, but this kind of squashing of a protest... this is pretty heartbreaking. I want to say that America--Oakland--is better than this, except that Mr. O pointed out to me that protesters during the Civil Rights movement were often assaulted by the police, too. "But they kept on fighting for their rights," he told me.

It's true. This kind of reaction to protest is more common in America's history than we care to admit. The question remains: Will this spur a greater number of protestors to stand up to injustice?

Photo via NorthOaklandNow


Sundry said…
This is a shame shame shame. Goes to show, though, that the movement is gaining some ground and getting under the skin of people who don't like to be bothered with the truth.
nick said…
There are different reactions to the "Occupations" in different cities. The Australian demonstrations are being broken up rapidly but the police are taking a very softly, softly approach to the two in London.

I'm all in favour of public protest, but I think the protests in London have made their point and now they're just annoying all the local shops and businesses.

I guess the police in Oakland are doing what the police frequently do, falsely claiming they were provoked by the protestors and had to defend themselves.

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