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Oakland: the Port and the Plaza, 2003 & 2011
by Daniel Borgström
Monday Oct 24th, 2011 6:46 PM
Police violence against peaceful protesters at the Port of Oakland in 2003 created a hornet's nest and backfired. Would gentler, kinder, repression have made a difference?
City officials have told Occupy Oakland to "vacate" the Plaza, and are threatening police action. Nevertheless, the occupiers are standing their ground, and have considerable popular support. What will happen remains to be seen, but let's consider an example from local history--the police attack in the Port of Oakland on the morning of April 7, 2003.

On that day antiwar demonstrators were picketing at the docks, peacefully protesting war profiteering by shipping companies, when police attacked. It was pretty brutal. Fifty-nine persons, including protesters, dock workers, and journalists were injured. Presumably the attack was intended as a message, something like: "Don't ever enter this port again! Don't even think of it!"

Exactly five weeks later, on May 12th 2003, several hundred protesters marched back into the Port, with banners flying and band playing. This time they successfully shut it down.

And that wasn't the end of it. The following year (2004), protesters commemorated the anniversary of the infamous attack by again returning to the Port, again shutting it down. Since then the Port has been picketed and shut down on several occasions, most recently in June 2010, to protest the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

So how it would go down if police were sent in to evict Occupy Oakland? For one thing, I imagine the police would be cautioned to avoid the previous brutality. Nevertheless, even supposing relative non-brutality, would massive arrests really put an end to the Occupy movement here in the East Bay?

Do they think that people who're losing their homes, jobs, social security, futures for their children, and all else are just going to give up and hand it over?


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by watcher
Wednesday Oct 26th, 2011 10:58 AM
update: Daniel described the protesters, including himself, chanting respectfully but strongly "cops, go home!" Tuesday morning before they were arrested. Also "you are the 99%" and "we are also fighting for you."

It reminds me of the sweetness that open-hearted children show, and this is not to disparage, but to support this attitude that tried to look past the terrifying hundreds if not thousands of armed and armored threatening police to their humanity. For many demonstrators, it was the most terrifying thing they had ever seen -- police amassed from at least 17 districts for what? Most morning protesters were not treated badly relatively speaking, if you discount homes simply crunched underfoot and confinement for 10 or more hours, largely with no contact or word of release. Some protesters reported sympathy by their captors (who never-the-less did not call in sick that day...)