This horrific footage from today's Occupy Oakland protest came courtesy of Tea Party Tweets on Youtube. I love that the fakeass GOP voter mobilization ruse is not only still pretending like it exists after the midterm elections, but providing useful footage as well. Thanks, guys, for being useful for someone other than John Boehner.
Like when any movement gains momentum, at some point state violence comes into play. Usually this is early on. It's interesting that it took them this long.
I have not participated in the Occupy Oakland protest. I have my own reasons. However, I can say a few years ago I took time off from the struggle to focus on my writing career. To do so necessitated embracing whatever limited privilege I have. I go to Mills College, one of the most obvious white privilege zones in the Bay. If an actual class war were to ever happen in Oakland, Mills would be a main target.
The occupation was a lovely thing to experience, even as an outsider. People from all walks of life dialoguing and creating a non-hierarchical space. Despite this setback, the momentum will not die. That's because the dialogue has changed completely. The dialogue in America (even politicians are recognizing) is about class. And since things will get increasingly worse for the working-class, expect more actions like the occupatons.
Repeat: it's about class. I had to unfriend a few douches on Facebook recently who were ragging on the occupiers as people who need to get a job. The occupiers are working-class people from one of the ruggedest cities in California. My Facebook friends were born and raised in the wealthiest county in Maryland. Class versus class. People who can afford laptops for Facebook versus people who wait in line to use their hour at the library for job hunting. It is about class.
It is also about race. Mostly it's about class. Being white in this country does not have as much capital as it used to. A poor white person will find it equally hard to get a job, and modern protest movements, if they are worth a damn, address issues of privilege in their organizing. And, yes, some people will continue to say it's welfare and Mexicans and liberals wanting to suck the government teat. These people are going to become increasingly irrelevant. Their slogans will, as well.
It is not about politics. I'm actually beginning to think Obama will not get a second term because his base has completely moved beyond him. If so, I don't feel bad for him, because he'll be one of the few people out there whose family will be taken care of. Good for him. There's also the nihilistic part of me that wants the Republicans back just to see what calamities they can serve up this time. It is not about liberals and conservatives. It's not something politicians can fix, and it's something they're to blame for only in an abstract way. The money belongs to 1% of the people and it's never going to trickle down. The industry in this country is gone. Politicians not only can't provide for you, what with the welfare state cracking, they cannot save you from this mess.
I didn't need to be in downtown tonight because the last time I was in a place called Oakland I saw the exact same thing. That was when police tear gassed the Towers on the Pitt campus, after the G20 had already left town. These guys with the fancy toys were mostly out-of-towners, as your typical Pittsburgh cops were out harassing street hoods who they thought matched the "anarchist" description. Stupid fucking yinzers. I know what a police riot looks like already. I'm used to it.
Get used to it. Campuses filled with tear gas. Downtown filled with tear gas. The difference is that those college kids were holding a rally, and were thus on the defensive. The occupations, even with the lack of clear demands they have been criticized for, are by nature offensive. I suspect a lot of college students who might have wasted their time next year with "Get Out the Vote Campaigns' have found their real option.
Expect more of this. Expect to see it in your city. America is facing economic collapse, and no amount of telling people to get jobs, or voting, or sloganeering, or Obma presenting bills, or the Republicans shutting them down, or hating Mexicans or championing corporations like so many Americans like to do for some absurd reason is going to change it. The dialogue has moved to class, and class in this country is not going to change without a fight. It's going to be the 60s all over again. Unlike the 60s, nobody will be pacified with crumbs from the government, and there will be nowhere for the middle-class to retreat to. Except maybe into the streets. I suggest investing in a gas mask.