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Response: 5/4 SF Chron col by Chip Johnson “Oakland labor march shows Occupy losing power"
Chip Johnson, columnist for SF Chronicle, wrote a hit piece about May Day, posing a "good protestor - bad protestor" scenario, between the Bay Area wide Coalition for Dignity and Resistance and Occupy Oakland. This is a statement from the Coalition denouncing his attempt to break our unity, and denouncing the rampant police violence on May Day.
In Response to 5/4 Column by Chip Johnson, Entitled “Oakland labor march shows Occupy losing power”.
The name of the coalition that organized the march from Fruitvale is Dignity and Resistance.
The event may have included music and other entertainment, but it was Not a parade. It was a serious march of up to 7,000 strong, led by immigrants fighting for their rights and against repression and deportations by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Others participating included numerous worker and union delegations, such as fired Pacific Steel workers, postal workers, the Oakland Education Association, and Teamsters.
Immigrant rights activists, members of union locals, members of various groups, including Occupy Oakland, Occupy SF, ACUDIR, Oakland Sin Fronteras, and Decolonize Oakland, comprised the broad, bay area-wide coalition from the beginning, helping to plan, organize and build for the march. When the Dignity and Resistance March arrived at San Antonio Park, they were met by chants of “Si Se Puede” (yes we can) by Occupy and others who were waiting for them there.
The March for Dignity and Resistance did not diverge from our route to avoid any grouping, but remained on the route that had been planned. A small contingent of the march chose to skip the rally at the park, and marched on to Dragon Park in Chinatown, but the San Antonio rally included the majority of the marchers, together with much of the Occupy contingent. When the Dignity and Resistance March arrived downtown, still thousands strong, it was met with cheers by Occupy people who were already at Oscar Grant Plaza.
The police violence carried out throughout the day was reprehensible. The Oakland Police Department conducted targeted “snatch and grab” operations, going after people previously identified as leaders or activists in Occupy Oakland, not because of any so-called crime they had committed. Police attacks - including attacks on a thirteen year old child and a woman sitting alone on the steps of Oscar Grant Plaza - were unprovoked and excessive. Our coalition stands against ICE repression and police brutality against anyone in our communities.
The cynical view of Mr. Johnson toward the recent current of activism in the Bay Area is disappointing, with his focus on perceived divisions, rather than the strength of an eclectic, vibrant, regional march.
Coalition for Dignity and Resistance