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Indybay Feature

Statement on the Occupation of the former Traveler's Aid Society at 520 16th Street

by some friends of OO
Last night, after one of the most remarkable days of resistance in recent history, some of us within Occupy Oakland took an important next step: we extended the occupation to an unused building near Oscar Grant Plaza. We did this, first off, in order to secure the shelter and space from which to continue organizing during the coming winter months. But we also hoped to use the national spotlight on Oakland to encourage other occupations in colder, more northern climates to consider claiming spaces and moving indoors in order to resist the repressive force of the weather, after so bravely resisting the police and the political establishment. We want this movement to be here next Spring, and claiming unused space is, in our view, the most plausible way forward for us at this point. We had plans to start using this space today as a library, a place for classes and workshops, as well as a dormitory for those with health conditions. We had already begun to move in books from the library.

The building we chose was perfect: not only was it a mere block from Oscar Grant Plaza, but it formerly housed the Traveler's Aid Society, a not-for-profit organization that provided services to the homeless but, due to cuts in government funding, lost its lease Given that Occupy Oakland feeds hundreds of people every day, provides them with places to sleep and equipment for doing so, involves them in the maintenance of the camp (if they so choose), we believe this makes us the ideal tenants of this space, despite our unwillingness to pay for it. None of this should be that surprising, in any case, as talk of such an action has percolated through the movement for months now, and the Oakland GA recently voted to support such occupations materially and otherwise. Business Insider discussed this decision in an article entitled “The Inevitable Has Happened.”

We are well aware that such an action is illegal, just as it is illegal to camp, cook, and live in Oscar Grant Plaza as we have done. We are aware that property law means that what we did last night counts as trespassing, if not burglary. Still, the ferocity of the police response surprised us. Once again, they mobilized hundreds of police officers, armed to the hilt with bean bag guns, tear gas and flashbang grenades, despite the fact that these so-called “less-than-lethal” weapons nearly killed someone last week. The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect one landlord's right to earn a few thousand every month. Why is this? Whereas the blockade of the port – an action which caused millions of dollars of losses – met with no resistance, the attempt to take one single building, a building that was unused, met with the most brutal and swift response.

The answer: they fear this logical next step from the movement more than anything else. They fear it because they know how much appeal it will have. All across the US thousands upon thousands of commercial and residential spaces sit empty while more and more people are forced to sleep in the streets, or driven deep into poverty while trying to pay their rent despite unemployment or poverty wages. We understand that capitalism is a system that has no care for human needs. It is a system which produces hundreds of thousands of empty houses at the same time as it produces hundreds of thousands of homeless people. The police are the line between these people and these houses. They say: you can stay in your rat-infested park. You can camp out here as long as we want. But the moment that you threaten property rights, we will come at you with everything we have.

It is no longer clear who calls the shots in Oakland anymore. At the same time as OPD and the Alameda County Sheriffs were suiting up and getting ready to smash heads and gas people on 16th St, Mayor Quan was issuing a statement that she wished to speak to us about returning the building to the Traverler's Aid Society. It is clear that the enmity between the Mayor and the Police has grown so intense that the police force is now an autonomous force, making its own decisions, irrespective of City Hall. This gives us even less reason to listen to them or respect the authority now.

We understand that much of the conversation about last night will revolve around the question of violence (though mostly they mean violence to “property,” which is somehow strangely equated with harming human beings). We know that there are many perspectives on these questions, and we should make the space for talking about them. But let us say this to the cops and to the mayor: things got “violent” after the police came. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and then the barricades were lit on fire. The riots cops marched down Telegraph and then bottles got thrown and windows smashed. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and graffiti appeared everywhere.

The point here is obvious: if the police don't want violence, they should stay the hell away.
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by Lodidodi
Instead of responding with force they respond like equals to us citizens, walk in, and ask
OPD : "Guys did you get permission from the land owner to occupy this building?"
OO : "No but its not being used nor have we been asked to leave by the owner."
OPD : "Okay, well if the owner does call and say he needs you guys out of here we will come back and ask you to leave peacefully. Help us help you we don't want any violence."
OO : "Hey Oakland PD thanks for the heads up appreciate the warning."
OPD : "No problem"
The conversation I am hearing isn't about the taking of 520 16th St., but about the violence by some after a full day of amazing, energizing, inclusive, peaceful actions. The people who vandalized property last night did more for the 1% , that is, more for those opposing the Occupy Oakland movement than for us. These persons are not our allies. If we are serious about building an inclusive mass movement these people should be nonviolently confronted and shunned. Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. See this important article on "diversity of tactics" link
by Corn Doll
I could not believe when I saw the police representative on TV yesterday claiming he and the OPD were part of the 99%. To me, the OPD are little more then henchmen for the 1% who endanger our young men of color and those of us in this fight to bring the city back to the community where it claims to be, all in the name of "law enforcement" and "protecting the people". Yes. Which people? The 1%. It is terrible to feel unsafe and threatened in the presence of the police, but that is what it is like with the OPD. This movement, this occupation of Oakland addresses society's problems. It is the most inhumane and cold blooded thing to see your community go homeless in need in the streets subjected to the elements and to see vacant buildings and to see pieces of concrete protected while no one gives a damn about our homeless and occupying communities. The message for me is loud and clear and it is wrong.
by kynyts
If this property is privately owned, then I disagree with your position. You can't just take over private property. You can't come to my house and move in while I am at work or otherwise not using it, either. The occupation of PUBLIC property (which in theory is owned by the the people) is very different from what you have proposed and acted upon.

I support this movement, but I cannot support your actions in taking over private property. Sorry...I just can't.
by St. Paul Principles
For the sake of the camp, please try to separate *highly* illegal activities. The camp is already bad ass enough - non-permitted, no cops, no politicians, rebuilt after raid. It would be best if banks are going to be smashed during marches or if vacant buildings occupied with burning barricades, that those things be done several blocks away at minimum, not right on the doorstep of the camp. And if police chases ensue from anything that pisses off the state, don't come running into camp and call "homebase" thinking you are protecting yourselves and not putting at risk everyone who calls the camp home. The occupation is pushing enough limits at this time, and taking things too far inside or next to the plaza could lead to it being destroyed again at any time. Of course, it could be destroyed no matter what occupiers do, but for the sake of attempting to continue on with the occupation as long as possible and for all of the people who pour their hearts and souls into it every day, consider adopting the St. Paul Principles.

Pass this message on to out of town comrades as well. Ask them to respect the occupation. This is a whole new game we are playing. Be smart. This isn't just some snake march from 2003.

Thank you.
I have supported this movement from day one and I marched in Oakland yesterday. I will not address the building take over but rather address what concerns me more, which is the destruction of property during a peaceful protest. The definition of peaceful is - characterized by peace; free from war, strife, commotion, violence, or disorder: a peaceful reign; a peaceful demonstration. Early on yesterday it was clear there was a group of people bent on destruction ... which is not peaceful. They were a small group - maybe 100 - dressed in black with masks on, and the majority of protestors tried at various times to call them down. These people should not be tolerated by the movement. If you do you will lose people. I saw people who came out to march yesterday in solidarity and support decide to leave because even though they support the movement, they are committed to a peaceful protest, which to the vast majority does not include breaking windows and starting fires. I support this movement and I want it to grow. If you want to grab the hearts of the people around the world, of our own citizens, many who are confused by what this is all about, you must completely disavow these acts and this approach. Peaceful means staying peaceful when the police are not. Join arms, sit, lay down, pray, but do not fight back. We are strong but we need to be stronger and to do this we must both gain & keep the support we have. I am not necessarily opposed to the occupation of the building in question, but in a peaceful protest police force is not the time to turn to violence, it is the most important time there ever could be to remain peaceful. I support the formation of a good neighbor working group.
by chrisbee
We make the movement look bad by breaking things, the cops look bad by responding to that, rinse, dry, repeat...when are we going to get some new tactics going here? I'm all for taking vacant buildings since it's wasted space and usually empty because someone doesn't want to rent in a soft market.
by carlos
For me, the question of activist tactics is not a moral one. There is nothing morally wrong about breaking a window. But has been pointed out above, actions that are taken that put others at risk without their consent are both wrong and can hurt the movement. The black bloc doesn't dialogue with anybody, won't talk to anybody that wants to question their tactics, and hides behind large crowds in order to do things they wouldn't normally be able to do, like trash a bank in broad daylight. We are always complaining about the liberals coming into our movements and hijacking them. How is this any different? There is a small amount of folks, with a predetermined agenda and goals, who jump in front of the movement and use it to get their anger out, without caring about the affects it has on the rest of us.
At the end of the day, the actions of the black bloc are not supported by the movement at large, if only for their lack of strategic value. This means that the acts are purely for individual fulfillment, and not committed with the intention of building collective power as a movement. Like someone said already, this movement is bad-ass enough without having to engage in hyper-masculine street battles with the cops. It's about all of us working and acting together. Not about just letting a few angry folks get their jollies off so they can feel like a romantic revolutionary hero.

by link
Here they are. Scroll down to read them.
i personally support occupying foreclosed property. i hope this aspect of the occupy movement takes off in a big way. but you guys screwed up bigtime.

you took the building at a moment when an army of police were standing by to move in on any pretext. dumb.

you "built" a half-assed barricade in the street that served no real purpose apart from posturing. self-indulgent.

you made a mess downtown that will alienate small businesses and working people that are essential allies of the movement. childish.

a homeless man was shot with a rubber bullet, many people were gassed and arrested, and the movements enemies were given more ammunition to use against us. and nothing was gained. fail.

you have no strategy. you're playing out some tired revolutionary fantasy, pretending that this is the french revolution or the spanish civil war or whatever. this is oakland 2011, stop living in the past and join the thousands of people who are actually giving this movement its' strength....
by Ya Basta!
I just wanted throw out a suggestion for the former Traveler's Aid Society building, which I think should be occupy given the recent history of its closure and the need for the expansion of the occupation from OG Plaza. I had NO idea that a building occupation was going to be taking place last night and would totally have join in if there was some kind of announcement made. Furthermore, I think there would have been hundreds or even thousand more that would have supported a building occupation if a general announcement went out. So I’m hoping that either a formal proposal will be present either on Friday or Sunday GA for such an action, which I still support. I love the fact that so many autonomous actions have been taking place since the rise of the Oakland Occupation and see the need for decentralized tactics but its unfortunate when those tactics fall short of inspiring a popular mobilization. Especially over such an important issue as taking a building that use to serve the homeless but is now bank owned!! Such an issue has the potential to galvanize even more folks in the East Bay and beyond— I would love to see folks inspired to not leaving their homes after a Bank is trying to evict after a foreclosure. So all I’m saying is that the tactic is awesome but how can such tactics become more popular? A building occupation at 11pm at night, even though there were still hundreds of folks out, might not have been the best time. But if it was announced just like the general strike with major support from the GA, the message about the necessary right to occupy so-called private property owned by the banks would have been so much louder and heard by so many more. Again, I would encourage folks to continue this conversation and definitely look forward to having a larger discussion about this topic sooner rather than later.
Late last night I went down to the Occupy Site after seeing footage online of police tear gassing protesters. I went down there to help as a medic. I was really saddened to see young kids smash the Tully's Coffee shop next to OO and loot it. The graffitti around the area told me that there was no tactical, political thought and it put the Occupy site in even more danger of being shut down by police. I also want to point out that those who smashed the windows were not "black block". They looked like local youth who were out to have some "fun". I think when property destruction is used, there should be thought given to the time and place for it, and when we see this kind of thing happening, some kind of community response that shows support for small businesses and community members. Last night, after such an amazing, empowering day, was not the time to smash the windows of small businesses AND it put those at the occupy site in even greater danger against police violence. I think the occupation of the foreclosed building was brilliant, but why tag it with graffitti inside? Why didnt people think of moving in furniture, begin painting it so that it has the feel of a community center? A bunch of random kids tagging and trashing the inside seems contradictory and alienating.

Personally, I think the property destruction of the banks made more sense than what happened last night, which just seemed random and out of control. It made me not want to participate in this movement. If we are serious about creating the kind of society that we want (that takes care of its most vulnerable, that feeds and clothes its people, that supports the environment, while nurturing life and creativity) then we need to have some discipline and vision.
by P@isley
I huge number of library books and zines were taken from the Oscar Grant Plaza Library, presumably for the occupation, and are now MIA. Can someone please report on this, and in the future, can we try to coordinate better amongst affinity groups? The group who set op the library wished there had been better lines of communication on this...
by Trudi
The violent acts by Black Anarchists who "opposes the existence of a state" and "favors a non-hierarchical organization of society" are responsible for the recent violence in Oakland. Throwing bottles and rocks at police is sufficient justification for the police to respond in kind. These instigators respond in an emotional fury without regard to their fellow Occupy participants. This group needs to be publically shunned by everyone else in the movement. Literally turn your backs on them. Wear armbands that signify non-violence. They will never listen to reason. The most effective way is to have the majority actively state through behavior they are not welcome, nor do their methods represent the movement.
Recently, Anonymous published a video clip that in essence called for violence. Could this be Phase 2 of their plan? If so, people in the Occupy movement who believe in non-violence must overcome this message
by rachael
private possession of property is ALWAYS theft from people. your house is built on NATIVE LAND. your house was built by working class people many of whom are currently out of work. your house is maintained by working class people many of whom are currently out of work. your house holds how many people as other people don't have shelter. what if your house was empty? would you not let someone who needs it use it? you know what that's called? GREED. private property is and always will be GREED. it is not about INTRUSION into someone's home, it is about building community and taking care of each other. wake up! capitalism kills!
by A participant
This very I'll-conceived action turned a thunderous victory into a mess. It also put the camp very much in danger of eviction last night. The action did not build unity towards more continued direct action such as taking over buildings or housing. It felt like a setup for a pointless street fight that a large large majority of participants don't want to have. This debacle is going to be very divisive.

The protagonists in this action should admit to their mistakes (and they were quite big in this situation) in order to help the movement move forward.

Also why was I texted by Occupy Oakland for this action?

by pike
I'm an anarchist, and I am also highly annoyed at the way people are employing Black Bloc tactics. What the hell people?

If the folks who insist on doing this were truly interested in creating a world where we can all feel free, then that means that they actually need to calm the fuck down for a second and start listening to what everyone else is talking about. To them I say: Grow up. It's not all about you getting off on "fucking shit up." Some of us are actually trying to bring about a world where we can move beyond Crimethinc tactics and create real, difficult, meaningful dialogue. It might be less glamorous, but it will last a lot longer.

I support squatting; I am not even saying that property destruction never has value. But I am saying that if folks don't start reeling it in, we are done. Seriously.

That is all.
by non
Please stop calling it Oscar Grant plaza. Whatever your opinion of his life and death, it demeans the #OO cause to refer to Frank Ogawa plaza incorrectly.
by pike
I'm an anarchist, and I am also highly annoyed at the way people are employing Black Bloc tactics. What the hell people?

If the folks who insist on doing this were truly interested in creating a world where we can all feel free, then that means that they actually need to calm the fuck down for a second and start listening to what everyone else is talking about. To them I say: Grow up. It's not all about you getting off on "fucking shit up." Some of us are actually trying to bring about a world where we can move beyond Crimethinc tactics and create real, difficult, meaningful dialogue. It might be less glamorous, but it will last a lot longer.

I support squatting; I am not even saying that property destruction never has value. But I am saying that if folks don't start reeling it in, we are done. Seriously.

That is all.
"But let us say this to the cops and to the mayor: things got “violent” after the police came" -- Wrong! link How revolutionary do you feel ganging up on someone?
by Remedial
If OWS is going to be peaceful, we should be peaceful.

If OWS is going to fight a war, we should fight a war.

Not both.

Last night's actions demonstrate to the outside community that OWS is seriously considering occupying private property against the wishes of those properties' landowners. This carries with it some very serious implications.

If OWS is to fight a war, it should choose its battleground. Because of the scattered nature of OWS, we are divided while police resources may be used to their fullest extent against us. They have enough force to destroy all of our encampments right now. And if we declare our right to take private property, there will be no more reason for restraint on their part.

The only way to withstand police attacks is critical mass. If all of OWS were to gather in a single place, our capability to resist police violence would be augmented as each police officer could beat us until they collapsed, but we would still have people marching.

IF we're going to fight a war, I recommend Occupy Oakland figure out how to join our brothers in New York and stand united.
by true
But this statement is seriously disingenuous to the point of almost being blatantly dishonest. "Gosh, who knew police would be so mean?" Are we really supposed to believe you are that naive?

This statement is written as if it's speaking to liberal democrats rather than the audience it should be written to, radical anarchist activists who have been busting their humps to make the occupation work. It uses straw man arguments as if the only criticism of the smashing of Tully's and lighting barricades on fire could be that those were "violent" actions.

Had nobody even thought about the possibility that cops might come, on a day when everyone knew that Quan had ordered every last cop on the force to be on duty? Did anyone consider the large numbers of anarchist visitors from other cities who were present with no real tie to the occupation and its processes? This is chess, not checkers, people.

Why wasn't it enough after the port action? There had already been the anticapitalist march with no arrests. Why the spazzy need to keep going and going and going until the plaza was full of tear gas and 100 people were in jail? It's okay to take a victory, walk away, and save yourself for another day.

How many of the people who organized the indoor occupation were arrested? Or was it more like a setup for visitors who had no where to go? And how many of those who organized the Traveler's Aid Society occupation are now doing jail solidarity work, raising bail, and so forth?

I fully agree with the previous commenter about owning up to the litany of mistakes and bad judgement calls. An actual honest to goodness apology to the Oakland Commune is in order.
by oh?
It's obvious that much of what happened wasn't done by ideological anarchists. Why can't you admit that a lot of young people are angry, and not just because of the books they've read, and are going to do angry things, sometimes in a less targeted way than anarchists would?

Even if I doubt that the property destruction last night was productive, I know that any real social movement or revolution isn't going to be perfect and orderly. I can either get stressed out and play the cops' game of publicly denouncing comrades I disagree with, or realize that no matter what, things will get broken. The more and more young people who get involved who aren't anarchists, who aren't beholden to the petty rules and traditions of anarchist cliques, the more disorderly and "irresponsible" things will happen. Remember the ugly scenes of anarchists, empowered by their privilege and the arrogance of their ideas, trying to stop black kids from attacking local businesses during the Oscar Grant riots? In light of that kind of experience, I'm going to choose the latter option, and relax and think about all the victories yesterday.
by Red1-MTG
As an individual I say these things because I cannot be at the next General Assembly, but wish to speak my experience. This is not a response to the building occupation but earlier experiences.

First off: Even though I (and others) disagree with how some tactics were used yesterday, under other circumstances you will find some of us fully united with your perspective and tactical choice.

When fellow protesters started chanting about stopping violence and for a peaceful protest, they often aren't lawyers using the legal (or even a common) definition, they are people seeing violent behavior and trying to express their shock, and in many cases a growing sense of disconnect with what we want to be our community. So please go ahead and inform us of the general uses of these terms (share your experience and knowledge), but please also address the spirit of what is being said. To those of you who have been genuinely engaging in debate - thank you, I myself did not say it yesterday amidst arguments, but thank you.

The General Assembly made the impression on a lot of the community that we make major decisions as a community. A lot of people came because an awesome group of people approached them on the street on Saturday, and told them about marching for injustice and closing the ports. When people read the flyers and the schedule for the general strike, they didn't read that they were going to be in a march that destroys things, they thought they were going to rise up against destructers. Of course there is a more fine-grained discourse to have on tactics and themes, but a general strike felt like 'the place' to further grow and develop the powerful sense of inclusiveness which has boomed in the last week. As a community, we sense that we may actually have a voice.

Our 99% protest-participators are growing, and we could reverse this trend by using aggressive tactics (with sometimes questionable benefit for our side) in the wrong circumstances.

And if we are just going to have to accept certain behavior at major events, lets make sure to keep aggressive tactics and sensitive parties separate. This is a reasonable request; out-of-work parents protesting deserve the respect of bringing their children and keeping them away from people who are breaking things and provoking the violent OPD.

In general, lets stop intimidating each other, emotions ran too high between ourselves at some points. If someone gets emotional talking to you, calm down and show respect, its the easiest way to get them to do the same. While I mean this in general, it was particularly scary when a lot of people with black faceless uniforms surrounded other members of the community, yelled and screamed, and intimidatingly postured and glared.

The General Assembly has enormous potential tomorrow night, for the benefit of us all. This is a serious subject, some of us demand to behave in ways that others see as disrespectful. I do believe that the majority of us, on any dividing subject, understand we all come with our own experiences, fallibility, and need to work together. Lets continue to leave the sound-bite-stupid mass-media agitators/entertainers befuddled with how we are not being pigeon-holed into obscurity, and lets also inspire ourselves into an even more powerful and organic movement.

In Solidarity.
by Lola (lolatravail [at]
Graffiti is good. IT is the way we express our self artistically, and politically. Cities like Buenos Aires and Rio are covered in murals that have elevated the art of expression. stencils wheatpaste posters, large pieces incorporating textural elements into the work..environmentally and situationally relevant, turning the space into a meaningful experience for everybody.

What this movement needs, is beautiful graffiti. Oaklandish, started by using stickers and poster graffiti 10+ years ago.

What do you all think? How could this be introduced so as not to be seen as blight and destruction, but instead a reclaiming of common space?

anyone up for some artistic billboard sign modification? On bikes at night?
by flavio
I'm not sure how well trying to take over private property is going to work. Regardless, this attempt seemed very poorly thought out.

Whatever you do you need come up with a plan to put a stop to those that graffiti and break windows and throw bottles. I'm hearing from a lot of people today that were considering joining and won't now.

Get it together.
by Jack Himself
Squatting in an unused bldg. makes a hell of a lot of sense - from a "best use" perspective (of unused vacant Commercial space); and an eminent domain type theoretical usage would make all the sense in the world! But then the common sense of the current establishment has been vacant for quite some time! A prime example - is the ghost town K street and surrounding empty commercial well as the billions of revenue that this same city has lost by failing to utilize the hundreds of acres of vacant Union Pacific rail yard.
Thomas Paines "Rights of Man" and "Common Sense" bubbles to the surface every time humanity is taken away by any usurper. Perhaps, a search of other building options - (possibly a donation) could be obtained by a dedicated search. Here in Sacramento....the 1st Amendment Occupy lawsuit was just kicked off, in Nashville-the district judge ruled in Occupy's favor; and a Supreme Court minority opinion also agrees with the Occupy type 1st amendment (CLARK v. COMMUNITY FOR CREATIVE NON-VIOLENCE 468 U.S. 288, 82 L.Ed.2d 221, 104 S.Ct. 3065 ....see Cornell posting). There is no doubt as to the crucial message that flows through each Occupy's veins, that though we are inextricably linked to a globalization scenario, we are NOT like cattle to be lead off to slaughter...whenever those who would seek to abuse their trusted position in power. The writing is on the wall - they have bankrupted us financially and a nation, as a World!

Man vs man is predominately civil, it is government v government which is un-civil. The lists of our grievances have been well stated....if the establishment had an interest in listening - but they turn a blind eye and a blind ear to the cataclysmic trajectory of their failed leadership & irrational greed. As stated best in the "Matrix" They are a parasite, which will continue to feed/replicate upon
its host (we the people), until the last bit of life is drained. It is also like that of a little child, who in the early developmental anal stage...looks down upon his 1st pile of steaming shit and smiles with glee....I did that, thats me! Establishment, clean up your shit! And try to grow into your responsibility...because your days of such abuse are numbered. We are legion/we are Occupy/we are the future!
by Old Timer
Y'all screwed up royally last night. Your selfish desire to provoke a fight with the cops for your own gratification accomplishes nothing but to detract from the total victory of the general strike and the shutdown of the Port -- one of the most beautiful days in the history of Oakland.

You knew exactly what you were doing when you built your barricades, set your fire, and amassed your projectiles. You were not surprised in the least when the cops showed up and did exactly what we all knew they would do.

We've all been through the old debates over violence/nonviolence/propertydestruction/blackbloc/blahblahblah. Those debates are tired and boring. They are also irrelevant to the present moment.

We have the first opportunity in some of our lifetimes to build a truly broad-based movement against the system that is killing us all. We have been bringing out an amazing rainbow of people from all walks of life all across the country, a phenomenon which hit its apex during the march to the Port yesterday. Your infantile selfishness puts all that in jeopardy.

We have the ability to create a radical, yet safe, space that allows people of good will to come out, with their families and children, and join our movement. Thousands who have never taken to the streets want to join us. One model for us should be the 2006 immigration marches. Everyone understood then that for that movement to succeed, we needed to make it possible for immigrants, some illegal, in their hundreds of thousands, to come into the streets with their families and make themselves heard. It worked, and was more powerful than our wildest Black Bloc dreams.

I am not a pacifist. Certain tactics have their time and their place. This was as far from being the right time and place as one could possibly get.

Y'all need to come to terms with the stupidity of what you did and apologize to the rest of us.
by A participant
Perhaps you should in engage with what people are actually saying instead of throwing up a bunch of disingenuous bullshit. Who the fuck is saying people aren't angry? And criticism is not the same as denouncing.
by Ntrwriter
If you're proud of your actions, take off your masks. Sadly, what you're doing is not courageous or helpful. It's self-indulgent stupidity. You know it and the Occupy Movement knows it. You probably could have squatted at the Farmer's Aid Building - a move I could have supported - had you not lit the entire area on fire, tagged the buildings with violent language and started throwing things at the police when they arrived. But I'm sure that wouldn't have been enough for you. So you had to hide yourselves because you know what you're doing is wrong. It won't bring about peace, only more violence.

If you really mean what you do, then take your masks off and prove it. We know you won't. True heroes don't get off on destroying private property and getting into sissy fights with the police just so they can tell stories to their jack-off friends. The Occupy Movement needs peaceful solidarity. That's how you win. But you're going to have to learn a little patience and stop indulging yourself in this puerile infantilism you call a revolution if you want a real part in this play.
by baggedpinkladies
the travelers aid building site is supported by alameda county behavioral healthcare center under the management of Gary Spicer, an open and self proclaimed "capitalist"; odd, but inside the department he proclaims it as he works with the mostly absent director to cut public services and outsource them to corporate for profit (while appeasing some key nonprofit) agencies and consultants. there is a story here for the media to uncover that will surprise the public, but you gotta do the homework.
First, I support, in theory, the act of using unused space to meet immediate social needs. But fact is, those who carried this out did not effectively make their case to the larger public before the police and mainstream media made your case for you. Is this unfair? Kind of irrelevant at this point. The 1% is the undisputed winner of this battle -- the battle for hearts and minds -- sad as that is.

If occupying foreclosed properties should be a next step, it doesn't mean *timing* should only be determined by when you have a big enough / angry enough mob to carry out such action. If the public doesn't "get it," not only are you not helping, YOU ARE HURTING the cause. Even if the goal is "right." But don't take my word for it -- let us know if recruitment numbers soar after this incident, or whether people decide to walk away, which my family is considering after the beauty of helping shut down the port yesterday with our 2-year-old son.

The GROWTH of OO should be the first measure of how smart our tactics are. Let's be clear: beyond the philosophical/ethical debate, all that matters is whether we are growing or alienating. Adjust tactics and timing accordingly.

Staying small is not an option to meet the massive challenges we face. Nor does it resemble in any way the motivating idea behind this movement: we are the 99%.
by Wanda
I'm all for squatters rights. And the reasons you put forth about needing a wintering place all sound fine and dandy. It seems to me a quat would have a much higher possibility of success if it was started on a quiet night when no one was watching. But blocking off the street and starting a bonfire? Please. Sounds like asking for trouble to me.

Plus it's so disrespectful of the thousands of people who are passionate about justice who had just come down in a fantastic show of unity.
by gary
I support your cause but the minute you took it upon yourselfs to break and enter tresspass and use things that were not yours you pretty much invited the police to step in. If that was your goal to cause a tense exchange and be able to point the finger at them you need to look at your self first. Yes the building was unused but so is your car when it's parked. Does that mean I can just come take it cause I feel I need it? So next time you choose to openly flaunt breaking countless laws make sure your ready for the police to come down on you with force because that's what they are waiting for. Any reason what so ever to come show you that the law applys to every one.
by angela davis
most of these commentators either don't know shit about politic or are indeed fbi agents working in counerintelliegence

OO has found it tactically unsound to communicate with the police, and cannot do so in any forum but the general assembly anyways. furthermore, this occupation was not organized by the OO general assembly but only one attempt at precipitating such that the general assembly has encouraged. anyways, they did "respond" in force. i say "respond" they were clearly ready for this shit, probably had informants giving them info all along and are themselves strategizing how to get people the hell out of the plaza and especially to make sure the occupations don't spread.

Jon Jackson
even thought the 99% is a really bad class analysis, those who break shit are still a part of it. "nonviolent" confrontation as i've witnessed so far is an activist swing a chair, a stick, or tackling another who is clad in black. that's police activity under a different name.

foreclosed, abandoned, and unused property are blatant abuses of the idea of private property. no one's talking of taking over your house. you are really unaware of reality.

St. Paul Principles
this is actually a worthwhile tactical (not moral i hope) discussion. it should be said oscar grant plaza is not a safe space for anyone. it's not a utopia, it's a warzone. it's located right in the middle of the political and economic power centers. i don't think the occupation is pushing limits at this point, it seems the limits are pushing on it.

by your slim definition, peace does not exist. too many problems here so i'll go meta. you are clearly of a spiritual, berkeley, liberal pacifist, ideology and are using it to encourage new types of policing. or as said before, policing b a different name. you also, claim what the "vast majority" wants, but your ideology doesn't seem like it would resonate with anyone that's actually engaged in a struglle for their lives, (egypt, etc.)

we will look bad when they want us to look bad, and good when they want us too. forget about the spectacle and get on the ground and participate

as said before the black bloc is a tactic, employed by folks who know what they want to do at least in that moment and want to be anonymous because they do not want to be incarcerated. as the people engaged in these tactics, i'm certain are involved in debate, discussion when not wearing masks. which is most the time. not behind large crowds, but within. again, you arespeaking assuming to know what the movement thinks. the problem is not so much groups jumping in front, but the tendancy of others to follow.

i think you are mostly right. except i don't know who the fuck your are talking to. and it's your opinion that the movement is strong. i'd say perhaps impotent. the occupation of foreclosed property needs few words of support. i you've got what it takes to do it, PLEASE DO!
this seems like something to work out in person and not on the internet. go to the GA

A participant
a thunderous victory? danger of eviction last night? your opinions, both seems wrong.

Jon Jackson
again the cops were already their in force fool. you are spreading disinformation, either wre not there or youare a cop.

we are not OWS. nor is OWS unified.
Thursday Nov 3rd, 2011 2:46 PM
If OWS is going to be peaceful, we should be peaceful.
by not exactly
When I read that what I heard was, "We're walking away from all responsibility for the mess we made because, hey, things are going to get broken anyway, and if you criticize us then you are thinking like a cop."

Well, things aren't as black and white as that. And no, what happened last night was the direct result of piss poor planning and strategic thinking by those who organized the Traveler's action.

Comrades sit in jail for no good reason, and what we get is an "oh well, shit happens" from apologists.
by Twitter@iamwepresents
Yesterday was beautiful, peaceful and productive. Hundreds of thousands turned out to support the movement, the port got shut down. Even when the banks and Whole Foods windows got smashed it opened the dialogue of violence against property, which is good. The dialogue is key. The take over of the symbolic building was brilliant but timing is everything. I don't think this was voted on in GA, if so why weren't there more people out to support and why at night? Also I realize that people are angry at mayor Quan but when she offered to negotiate about the building and it's use no one that I've heard of responded to her request to at least meet to talk with her, which may have prevented the tear gas and riot police. All people cops and mayor alike are potential converts if they aren't already sympathetic...we need to take advantage of these moments and being stubborn stunts the growth of the movement and alienates people.
Instead of Isolating and shunning black bloc we need solidarity and they too have strengths to add to the movement. For those of you that feel all the events last nite will discredit the movement don't be disheartened, we are ALL navigating new territory. And as far as the undercover cops, let's identify them watch them get to know them convert them or call them out to the attention of all occupants! Peace. Love. Unite.
by person with a disability
I agree with many things that have been said in this discussion. Whether or not you think property destruction is violence, or however wrong the state is to protect property more than people, breaking windows and setting things on fire is incredibly counterproductive and could be the death of this movement, a movement with so much potential. When the police broke up the camp last week, they seemed to be expecting violent resistance, and they lost the fight for public opinion because they met none. People could see they used excessive force that morning and evening, and that's why later they stood down and the movement was able to rebuild the camp, which was a big victory, as was the closing of the port. If protesters had fought back violently then the police would have won. If people see rioting, many people who support this movement will think the police are right and will not support it. Small business owners are part of the 99 percent. And to the homeowner and the person who said that home was "stolen", there is a big difference between owning a home and owning vacant property which you will not allow homeless people to inhabit or which you have evicted them from when you have much more than you need, as banks have done with foreclosures. Most owners of one home are in the 99 percent. And BTW this movement does include some "liberal democrats" and is not limited to people of one political persuasion.
Jon Jackson is my real name. You can find me on Twitter @jonmosesjackson. You defame Angela's name by hiding behind it. Yesterday was a thunderous victory: tens of thousands of people from Oakland and elsewhere coming together in an inclusive, united front, energizing uncounted thousands, perhaps millions of people around the world. All ages were there. Unions were there. Homeless, homeowners, working class, students, dot-com workers and others were there. Do you think that organizing happened overnight? That morning? On the fly during the first action. No. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Work that a few ill-educated people harmed because they couldn't be bothered to struggle with the rest of us and decided to jerk off by the light of a burning dumpster.
by @east33rd
Very thorough, but again, tell us how your recruitment numbers go after this. Or are you and your 50 friends going to smash the state all by yourself?

And enough philosophy, WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS? Let's see, with your biggest effort to date, you managed to hold 1 building for 3 hours. If your tactics DON'T WORK, no one wants to hear about how "right" you are.

Honestly, I'd really like to know, paint a picture for us of how you imagine this strategy unfolding over time, taking into account your total isolation, and the extent to which you don't give a shit about what "the people" think. If you knew anything about organizing or basic "not being an asshole," you'd see how arrogant and ineffective this is.

If vast majority of a radical website thinks you're out of touch, maybe time to reassess. (And read my previous post in case this just comes across as me not being as "hardcore" as you.)
"Diversity of tactics" does not mean pretend a tactical mistake wasn't made when it clearly was. This was a huge tactical mistake that has already eclipsed the enormity of the port closure in the public imagination. The goal should have been to consolidate our gains, expand our base, and focus that energy on the next step, which should have been gathering public support for occupying and holding a nearby foreclosed building. In that environment, you may have been able to bring support around for something rather counter-intuitive to the American belief system. OO cannot hold a building by force. It can only hold a building because of public sympathy and support. I'm not sure how you regain that after last night.

Done right, the city would have felt forced to tacitly assent to such an occupation. Now, I don't think the mayor could support it, even if she wanted to.

If the real goal is to occupy and hold a vacant building near downtown, then OO has to demonstrate some humility in order to regain public support. It must distance itself from certain acts of vandalism, acknowledge and shoulder some responsibility for the mishandling of the attempted occupation and subsequent rioting and damage, and reach out to the local businesses that were damaged.

It must then begin a dialog with the public to educate them on the need for an indoor space to house the homeless for the winter. It must familiarize them with the idea. Warm them to it. Draw a critical mass of support. With thousands of diverse people surrounding the building, bringing donations, and demonstrating support, it can be held.

Again, what is the real goal?
by CG
At the expense of appearing "meta" =) ... the definition I used for peaceful is not my own but that of Websters dictionary. I am not being so much all those things you say but rather logical ... these kind of actions put the growth of the movement in serious jeopardy. These marches called by Occupy Oakland will not be successful without the support of those who are sympathizers but who are not able to occupy daily. Thousands came out yesterday that do not want to be associated with the things that happened later. My words were based on the many reactions I saw all day and then later discussions with attendees - plus twitter etc. To be sure I can't speak for everyone, but I truly believe that if Occupy Oakland decides in the GA that these actions are acceptable, widespread community support will be lost. If Occupy Oakland would have called a General Strike & stated up front that there would be property damage, etc. (some say not violent but hey, it's not peaceful) that the numbers yesterday would have been much, much smaller. I doubt the port would have been shut down. As someone else here pointed out, it makes those that came out in support & solidarity feel a bit deceived and confused as to what this is all about. In addition, it appears that none of these actions were voted on and approved of in the GA, so it seems to me that these actions do not represent the wishes of the whole. Occupy Oakland needs to make some clear decisions in this area quickly so that the next time a march is called supporters are fully aware of what they are supporting.
by @east33rd
Thank you, Jon Jackson, for putting it so succinctly. Will someone please make the appropriate YouTube video and credit this man. Just the footage and this title.
by flavio
Sure seems to be a lot of negativity towards liberals by some in this thread.

Would you guys prefer if liberal leaning types like myself withdraw our support? I sure as hell am not going to throw in with anarchists unwilling to compromise.
by @
I wouldn't call cold weather "repressive." We rather like it up here. #OccupyVermont
by A participant
Lots of solid criticism in the responses (iMO). Waiting for a response.
by downwithpower
I agree that the occupation and aftermath was a tactical mistake. But I would go further--those of us who support non-violent protest need to take more responsibility for the actions of the few. Yes, the folks who took over the building and lit the fire outside it last night deserve to be chastised. But next time, we all need to do a better job keeping the few from hijacking our day of action. There are always going to people who want to take things too far -- look at the recent history of direct action in Oakland. If we want this to go on for the long term, we need to start taking more responsibility for the actions of all of those who attend our marches. I'm talking about some kind of "peace guard" like what we saw outside Whole Foods, or a mediation team on-site to deal with the flare ups as they occur. These guys--and they are mostly white men--are making us all look bad and I am not going to stand for it anymore.
by Old Timer
Adding to what I said above, this movement's biggest strength may be that it is about the Big Picture. It is not about fighting the police (much though we may legitimately despise them). It is not about fighting the City of Oakland (American cities have been some of the biggest victims of the 1 percent). It is not about fighting Mayor Quan (I think we could have driven a wedge between her and the police if we had allowed her to come out and apologize instead of booing her off the stage last week).

We want it all, and diverting ourselves into the usual cul-de-sacs wastes everyone's time. The police will attack us, and we will have to devote resources to jail support and lawyers, but this is not our goal, and should be avoided to the extent possible.

We are all used to being marginalized and ignored, often to the extent that our failures have had few consequences. This time is different. This movement has huge potential. We have a responsibility to acknowledge this fact and honor it, and make it as big and powerful as we can. This is possible for the first time in a very long time.

If you had truly wanted to re-appropriate a vacant building for the greater good, rather than have an awesome streetfight, you could have done it in daylight, in regular clothes, unmasked, without building barricades and fires (which serve no purpose other than ominous theatrics). Homes Not Jails has done this many times. Instead you baited the police and fled the building rather than defend it. This says a lot to me about your true goals.
by spukkin
"i think you are mostly right. except i don't know who the fuck your are talking to. and it's your opinion that the movement is strong. i'd say perhaps impotent. the occupation of foreclosed property needs few words of support. i you've got what it takes to do it, PLEASE DO! "

i'm talking to individuals who made the completely unwise decision to take that building when and how they did, i assume the author of this article is one of them...

i'd say its' pretty ironic that you're calling the movement "impotent" and challenging me to occupy a foreclosed property as you're defending a crew that utterly failed to achieve anything, including occupying a foreclosed property..

if a tactic fails, abandon it and move on. why be an apologist? better to apologize.
by deanosor
1. A disclaimer: I am not in Oakland, altho i lived there fro many years. I was not at the November actions in Oakland. I was in Seattle last night at Occupy Seattle's protest and attempted shut down of the President of J. P. Morgan Chase speaking there. I have been an activist and an anarchist for 40 years.
2. All the events that occurred that day except for this bulidng takeover and related events were approved by Occupy Oakland's General Assembly. In fact some people were still at the port weh nthe buildign takeover occurred, and others were exhausted. People did not know that the takever was going to occur. If they had, they, including some who have tactical, peacekeeping and similar skills would have been there.
3. I have seen in these comments references to certain actions organized by white men, and then the same actions have also been said to have taken place by "apolitical" people of color. I think that people making these racialized comments should stop. They are counter-productive. There are good and bad activists of all races within our movement. Talk about what happened; don't talk about people's race.
by Henry Kielarowski
Who are you "friends." Most of us with Occupy opposed your "liberation" of the building as well as the trashing of businesses and breaking of windows, etc. I think there are people who insert themselves into various "progressive" movements to create police confrontation and damage. I think they are hired and supported by the 1% to create disruption and disillusionment. They seem to come from outside locations and have the ability to gather up their gear and show up in highly organized groups whenever the 1% are criticized. Anarchists? They would still be trying to develop a consensus somewhere. Sounds like paramilitary. Police. Those looking for excuses to shut Occupy down and discredit it. There is video shot by KRON showing Occupy protesters fighting with these dark dudes. I think Occupy should work with the vets to deal with these right-wing thugs. Inform the police so that their officers in masks don't get hit over the head with a baseball bat:)

And to the rest: nothing is as it appears to be, especially in politics.
by Seamus McDermott
The agents provocateurs have done more to damage the movement in the public eye than anyone. Self-aggrandizing, egomaniacs. What have they done to their credit? Burning trash cans. Who do they feed? Themselves. Who do they clothe? Themselves. Rubber bullets are too good for the undisciplined hooligans. In a truly popular movement of revolution, you'd be warned on the first offense, shot on the second.
by marat
Excuse me., but carrying occupations like this of abandoned, foreclosed or vacant spaces is exactly the direction the community driven efforts
like Occupy the Hood are taking across the country. And you can expect to see more efforts like this - particuarly as winter sets in. It seems from much of the criticism here is not directed at the actual occupation of the building, but the efforts of those outside the buidling to defend that occupation - and themselves - against police onslaught. A careful and thoughtful review of what actually happen suggests that what property destruction that occurred happened in direct response to a police assault that left people injured and arrested . It's beginning to look like OO's media committee are uncritically buying into corporate news accounts of what happened. A similar liberal knee jerk reaction occurred in the immmediate period following the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. - which was later debunked, much to the embarrassment of those who parroted the corporate media spin.
by anonanon
it really seems most of you liberals just learned the phrase "agents provocateurs" and as a result love to blame everything you don't understand on them.

nonetheless, i take this as a good sign. hopefully you are on your way to being radicalized.
by circle that a
A couple of things I noticed yesterday that nobody here deemed worthy to include in the dialogue:

A) So far as I understand, the Anti-Capitalist march yesterday was neither agreed upon nor sanctioned by OO (ie Not included in the schedule of GA-agreed events), yet a far larger group of the general strike chose to show up than I would have expected. I mean a lot of them. A LOT.

B) Up until the Whole Foods incident, the majority of the people around me---numbering in about 2 dozen, none of them in black bloc---were yelling "smash it up, tear it down" with the rest of the black bloc, and many of them were holding black flags as well. Don't assume this is a white know-it-all college kid attitude; however unwilling many people may be to admit it, I sincerely doubt anyone is going to lose any sleep over Wells Fargo's windows.

C) There was nothing but support from everyone I talked to last night about the occupation of that building until the police showed up. While everyone involved in planning this (autonomous action that was in solidarity with but had nothing to do with OO) could have done better in letting the people who showed up know that there were very real consequences to participating in the occupation of the building, it doesn't excuse the police department's behavior.

Food for thought, and not just baseless finger-pointing?
by another anarchist
i wish this action had taken place early in the day with a huge supporting presence. The statement and the idea is great but the opportunity was squandered by turning it into a pointless clash with police. Huge bummer.
by -
There are plenty of neighborhoods in the Bay Area that are filled with the 1% - many near BART or transit stops - much of the hills area west of Palo Alto, San Ramon, Marin and so forth. Maybe there would be some good demonstration sites here. People from out of town always wonder why all the stores and restaurants in downtown Oakland and Chinatown seem so oriented towards the lunch crowd, and often close up after 5pm.
by Raghillaigh
Right, Seamus. Let's rout those hooligans who seized a building, erected barricades, started fires, broke windows and resisted efforts by the forces of law and order to take back that property. Haul em off to Kilmanham Gaol and shoot the buggers.
by Dan in the Central Valley have gone on record saying there is no dealing with the Left in this country anymore. Several months ago, several of our Repub Congress members joined some of the national Congressional leadership in a commentary (unfortunately the link I have no longer works). In it they said the Left is hell-bent on destroying this country, and that it will have to be imprisoned or killed. They made clear that if the Repubs get control of the White House and of the Senate, there will be draconian measures enacted.

Now, how does this commentary apply to the actions of Black Bloc in Oakland? It helps convince the middle class that the Repubs may have a valid point about the Left being an internal security threat and that in fact suspending the Constitution to save the country might be absolutely necessary and a good thing.

The average person watching the nightly news doesn't know the difference between Black Bloc and peaceful protestors. They see people smashing windows, setting fires, throwing things at cops, and otherwise making a nuisence of themselves, so they lump everybody identified with the protest (whatever it might be) together.

It would be a shame if OO proves to be the swan song of the American Left.
by eltejano
I agree- idea was fine (to occupy building), and all the justifications sound well-considered, but timing was extremely poor (why not during day, when there were 10,000 not-so-tired people around? It would have made it harder to attack, and would have had the potential to raise consciousness) Many left at 9 PM or so.

The strategic mishap, I do believe, is that it unwittingly feed into the police's and machine politicians' overall strategy to get a mayor in power who will buckle into the OPD Union demands to keep the police force growing to the detriment of other agencies such as parks or libraries. This will likely be the outcome & I am no fan of quan, but fear machine politicians like dela fuente much more.

by person with a disability
A friend of mine just told me that he has a friend who works for a nonprofit, some group that promotes the arts in the community, whose building was vandalized. Tully's is not Wells Fargo. Would careful analysis as in " watch the parking meters" show that attacking such places was a logical response to provocation from the police? Breaking windows and setting things on fire doesn't protect people from attacks by the police, only justifies the police crackdown in the eyes of the public.

Though I guess it isn't senseless if as some people have opined, these are provocateurs. Whether they are or not, that's effectively the work they're doing.
by cocktaillouie
If you are equating the takeover of the (long-empty) Traveler's Aid building to the takeover of your own house, you are equating yourself with the 1%. Why are you so concerned with "private" property? Because you don't want your own "private" property taken. That's the reaction of the 1% and those they have enslaved with false promises. You obviously consider yourself closer to the 1% than to the 99%, and thus you should be dealt with accordingly.
by person with a disability
I was not the homeowner who equated taking over a vacant property with taking over my house (I don't own one), in fact I said just the opposite in my earlier post. If you think you are talking to me, then you did not read what I wrote, and are confusing me with someone else.
by freddi price
Indeed we should make the space for talking about these issues of violent aggression whether to people or to things. It becomes necessary to determine how we draw the lines between. It's obvious we are going to have to deal with these questions in the weeks that come. And abandoned buildings certainly do offer a great potential for a more progressive occupation. Although it seems all too typical to get embroiled in "dissension among the ranks", I have to say in support of the Truth as evidenced out by personally observed fact: " things got “violent” after the police came. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and then the barricades were lit on fire. The riots cops marched down Telegraph and then bottles got thrown and windows smashed. The riot cops marched down Telegraph and graffiti appeared everywhere. " This is simply not true. - There were no cops in sight, none, in the middle of the day when windows were smashed at banks and businesses or when the few peace-principled individuals were punched and thrown to the ground when trying to prevent these acts of aggression. I suppose they are the victims of "friendly fire" instead of "violence"? - There were no cops in sight for at least an hour while the incitements mounted in the 16th and Telegraph area - Graffiti is certainly not violent and no graffiti artist needs your 'cops marching down Telegraph' to inspire him/her to act! None of us support what the cops did do and it's hardly necessary to create or distort facts to warrant our grievances against them. However, cops are not the enemy, and it takes a subtly altered insight to see past the blind anger that there behavior instills. They work for the enemy and so do these provocateurs either willfully or no.
by Immigrant activist
I'm an immigrant of color who's OK with a diversity of tactics -- but yesterday was not the right time for it, and a man got shot, young people were exposed to tear gas, and the work of tens of thousands of people overshadowed in the media, all because a few people. My mother, a sweet liberal in her 60s, is now scared to come out to Occupy. Your poor judgment has consequences.

As I was leaving Occupy Oakland last night, I saw people in black steal public garbage cans, planters, etc. This really saddened me, because I have friends who are landscape architects, and I know how hard they work to maintain green infrastructure in our city streets, at a time of severe budget cutbacks. In retrospect, I wish I had the courage to ask the black-clad face-hiders to please leave our city alone.

At the time, I had no idea that you were trying to build barricades and start fires in our streets, i.e. an invitation for the police to attack. I had to stay up till 4:00 am, in spite of a chronic health condition, repeatedly calling dispatchers from six different local police agencies trying to let them know that there were youth, people with disabilities, etc. around, that they were being filmed, and to please refrain from shooting or teargassing any more people.

I don't know who you folks are. Anarchists? Black bloc? Your don't-give-a-fuck fratboy testosterone intimidates me. I hope I have the courage to ask you to please stop, the next time we meet.
by Cjw
I really appreciate this article. It is very well said and it needs to be said. It gets tiring hearing about people trying to correct those who attempt property destruction and the takeover of buildings. Accept the 99% completely. The division comes not from the actions that people take who aren't harming anyone, but from the consistent repudiation of those actions by the people who insist that everything must be their way. Keep working, keep dialoging, it's democracy in action.
by pwd
Property destruction and the takeover of buildings are two different things. Taking over an unused building in order to serve human needs is not destruction. Please don't assume that anyone who opposes rioting also opposes redistribution or civil disobedience. It is because I support meaningful social change that I oppose actions that I fear will enable the suppression of this movement.
by Stephen Cataldo
"The point here is obvious: if the police don't want violence, they should stay the hell away."

Well duh. But is their bad behavior a good argument for a movement that doesn't stand up for peaceful, effective protest? Can we even respect ourselves: when people are invited to a peaceful protest and become a shield for property damage, we're stealing something at least as important as property.

You say the police want violence. You say the police will attack with or without provocation. And then we build a movement that plays their game, that runs around with face masks as if we're spoiling for a fight, rather than peaceful protests standing up for the country? And a vast part of our 99% who're still at home and who we need to join this movement if we're ever going to help the people and communities in trouble: don't they think we're ill-behaved [mostly white] kids acting out? And don't the facemasks and broken windows make it oh so easy for the police?

During the day twenty thousand showed up to celebrate a better future. The police attack so we'll lose discipline and turn into a crowd of silly, over-reaching kids, so people who aren't already radicals won't join us. That's the point. And we're more and more falling into it.

The face masks on the street, the arguments in this article, they lead to one thing: "I told you so." Next year we can say "I told you the cops were out to get us, I told you the media sucks." Personally I want victory, and it's really obvious that peaceful, steady, heartful protest will reach vastly more people than antics. This movement desperately needs to return to successful tactics from Gandhi or King or Tahrir, to stand with pride and not face masks.

"The point here is obvious: if the police don't want violence, they should stay the hell away." It's true, but it's very much not the point.

I found this powerful:

If there are any police reading this: You ought go home and spend a night watching clips from Tiananmen, and then think about what you've brought to America. Protect and Serve or call in sick. You and the angry white kids in masks are together playing a game that steals democracy from the rest of us.
by nonya business
This is the best idea I've heard in years. Empty buildings need to be filled and homeless humans need shelter, what a perfect fit! Violence is wrong, but like you said, they started it. If they don't want us to finish it they should get smart and just stand back and watch democracy in action.
"Strive not with a man without just cause...Proverbs 3 FMI We are wasting time pointing the finger truth is we need both choose a side accept responsibility for every other. Violence, Darkness cannot be rehabilitated, it must be destroyed. Ends must justify means, there is no end, only beginnings...We need those peaceful beings as much as those willing to commit acts necessary to defend WE... the 99%,LOVE is the thread..."Envy not the oppressor and choose none of his ways,"...doesn't mean we can't LEARN, discern the necessary acts of militant disobedience parking payment machine dysfunction specialists, as Martin's trend sits in the streets nonviolent space, meanwhile the other side letting popo's air out their tires, SURPRISE...WE ARE ONE, our children are watching break the curse Divide and CONquer, Occupy your MIND with GOD, all will work together for our GOOD :)
by A participant
You need to read closer. Not everyone here is complaining about property destruction. We're saying the building takeover action did absolutely nothing to the further the movement. It was a failure on every level (read above criticisms).

As above posters have said (including myself) the damage needs to be assessed and mistakes acknowledged. That will help the movement move forward.

Some of us are still waiting for a real response to the criticisms on this thread.
The first half of this piece is excellent, and rings largely true to me as someone who personally followed the crowd moving from Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza a couple of blocks up Broadway/Telegraph to 16th Street last night; I was in the last organized group of protesters returning on foot from the port for the scheduled 10:00pm convergence at Broadway and 14th. For a full hour from roughly 10:30pm on, I was standing just outside the protester-occupied former Travelers Aid Society building at 520 16th Street. I read one of the small squares of paper several people occupying the roof of the building showered on the crowd below, which I thought outlined a thoughtful, compelling argument for Occupy Oakland to occupy this particular building: namely, the Travelers Aid Society is a not-for-profit organization that had provided services to the homeless in that location but, due to cuts in government funding, became unable to make its mortgage payments and was foreclosed on. (The East Bay Express' contemporaneous tweet confirms my memory about the flyer referring specifically to a foreclosure rather than a lost lease, as stated by the author[s] above. See Using the people's mic, one of the protesters involved in the planning of the building's occupation also announced/explained to the assembled crowd the immediate efforts to start using the building as a community library. This all seemed like a well-considered, strategic plan put forward and executed by people who were genuinely striving to further the lofty and inspirational goals of the nationwide Occupy movement, through nonviolent means. The crowd of 100-150 people hanging out on the narrow alley of 16th Street between Telegraph and San Pablo/the back side of the Plaza was a representative assemblage of the regular-ass people who had been present and participating in the hugely successful general strike all day (if skewed a bit young due to the hour), and the mood was upbeat and festive. Amplified music (mainstream hip hop and R&B and later funk) prompted a street dance party, and I saw lots of smiling faces (as well as a couple of discreet cans of Pabst and OE being sipped -- that was about as wild as it got).

Unfortunately, the second half of the piece published above (starting with "Still, the ferocity of the police response surprised us."), describing what happened next, is 100% horseshit. First, despite the statement's false suggestion (which unfortunately continues to be widely repeated) that police moved immediately on the crowd once 520 16th was occupied, I was able to document that I actually spent a full hour chilling unmolested (and enjoying zero police presence) right out front. My first photo of the building and the peaceful crowd below was taken at 10:38pm, at which point people were already inside and had taped a large banner reading "Occupy Everything" across the windows on the top floor; my last photo was taken at 11:27pm just up the block at the corner of Telegraph...right before I realized shit was about to get real and got on my bike and rode the fuck out of there. It's been reported that law enforcement arrived on the scene approximately 10 minutes later at roughly 11:50pm (see

Here's what I saw and heard that instantaneously made it crystal clear that police would HAVE to show up at the scene en masse: (1) While at the 16th Street dance party, I kept hearing loud bangs from the direction of Telegraph/Broadway. After jerking my head around each time and not seeing any signs of movement/destruction/police, and after hanging around long enough to hear three of these bangs, each separated by minutes of quiet, I picked my way through the still-cool crowd out to the corner of Telegraph. This is where (2) I saw a bunch of fucking bullshit so-called "anarchists" in their trademark black skinny jeans/hoodies/face bandannas -- where not in full on ninja-wear -- who were in the process of dragging in and tipping over dumpsters to form the backbone of a barricade along Telegraph/blocking off 16th. The barricade was roughly waist-high to me and predominantly composed of tipped over shopping carts and wooden crates and pallets ("liberated" from Walgreens or RiteAid on Broadway? I didn't think it particularly intelligent to stick around to inspect more closely). I then heard one of these douchefuck provocateurs, standing to my left as I paused to take a photo, say to a colleague: "We need to set this shit on fire." Thinking that being anywhere near any fire would be a terrible idea, lest I get burned or trampled or god forbid any of the surrounding buildings accidentally go up in flames, I immediately left, heading north on Telegraph. Of course, I know now from media photos that multiple fires *were* set shortly thereafter, so that these fuckwads could elevate the utterly pointless and aggressively confrontational -- sorry, for these faux-anarchist riot groupies who lack higher-reasoning abilities, aggressively eliciting confrontation IS the point -- barricade bullshit into a full-on supplication to riot gear-clad police and sheriffs to hurry up and beat down the totally PEACEABLE Occupy protesters. Congratulations, motherfuckers: it worked.

The beyond-disingenuous, self-fellating propaganda of the faux-anarchist horde is that any opposition to their destruction and endangerment of others -- whether in the form of unlawful use of force by a perpetually inept and corrupt law enforcement agency like the OPD, or even as pleas for nonviolence by "fellow" protestors at Occupy Oakland and all the other countless protests these shitbirds ineluctably invite themselves to and strive to coopt -- can be dismissed with a wave of the hand as some kind of pro-capitalist fixation with protecting private property above all else. Read a FUCKING newspaper. The 99% includes and works on behalf of the unemployed, the underemployed, and the working poor; the indebted, the underwater, and the foreclosed-on; the economically marginalized and the financially exploited. We GET why occupying and repurposing an empty building, whose very emptiness is symptomatic and symbolic of our bought-and-paid for government systematically failing the 99%, would be a sensible and pretty awesome goal to pursue. We do NOT get what you are trying to accomplish by continually inciting OPD to engage US with the kind of tactics that are going to get their asses tossed into federal receivership come January 2012. Are you trying to educate us on the finer points of the incredibly complex and sophisticated philosophical tenet that "cops = pigs"? This is OAKLAND. We KNOW. And we know you don't actually believe that "The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect one landlord's right to earn a few thousand every month....Whereas the blockade of the port – an action which caused millions of dollars of losses – met with no resistance" because OPD (maybe you mean the mayor? Barack Obama? Ben Bernanke? David Koch?) knows and gives two shits about your retarded third-grade understanding of capitalism (much less your reductionist-to-the-point-of-cultural illiteracy characterization of the role and responsibilities of police in our society).

As everyone with two brain cells has surmised, the port shut-down met with no police resistance because the 10,000-strong participants were entirely peaceful; your firestarter stunt got everybody tear gassed and shot up with "non-lethal" projectiles because you literally set shit on fucking fire. That is not an accident: 10,000 people can hold it together and get through the day, but as soon as 50 of you muster some skull cracking always mysteriously seems to commence? You *planned* for OPD to wild out, you made it happen, and you fucked us all over in the process -- repeatedly and deliberately. So do us all a favor and go fuck yourselves. You're not wanted at Occupy Oakland, and I can't imagine anyone else who'd have you either. Maybe start up your own, "anarchist"-only protests about whatever it is that really pisses you guys off (we can't really tell since you pathetically and exhaustingly show up to EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME), and goad the police to blowing their loads tear-gassing just YOU five times in an hour.
by A particpant
You're saying people lit the dumpster on fire before the cops were even there?
by Kim Lehmkuhl
...that someone standing next to me said "We need to set this shit [the barricade] on fire." I took the guy at his word that a fire would be set imminently, and I knew that meant the cops were coming, and EVERYONE knew cops were massed out there somewhere (turns out on San Pablo) ready and waiting in riot gear, so I left. When I left, there were zero uniformed cops, on either 16th or on Telegraph (I couldn't see the Plaza from where I was). Roughly 10 minutes passed before police did in fact arrive. I didn't physically see a fire set, no. I also do not believe that the people on the barricade waited patiently for the cops to arrive and *then* set multiple fires in actual direct response to anything the cops did. The entire set up was a ploy to draw police -- and more importantly, the peaceful protesters on the scene who wanted nothing to do with any of this -- into a violent confrontation. It's sad that OPD is so reliable in this regard, but it would be a mistake to characterize what happened as "OPD acted, protesters reacted." The REAL protesters were like, oh fuck, now we're getting tear gassed again and we didn't do anything.
by j kaiser
After the massive amount of positive news during the daytime in regards to the march on the Port of Oakland and General Strike, it was a huge mistake to fuck it all up with provoking OPD late at night. The news crews and marchers had mostly gone home, the march was (mostly) peaceful, the day was WON. Even the vandalism that the f-tard chickenshits in masks did earlier in the day had been largely overshadowed by the scope of the rest of the day's events. Things were real positive, as far as the face of Occupy Oakland was concerned to the larger public eye.

And then night-time. Occupying a vacant building is a great idea, I don't argue that in any way. But use a little intelligence if you're going to try pulling that off. Really, after the success of the day, you could have publicly asked to take it over as a humanitarian/homeless service building. Who in their right mind would have stood against that if proposed in a very public forum? The landlord? Shit no, they'd look like total assholes, especially the day after however many thousands of people from all backgrounds marched (mostly) peacefully through downtown and out to the port and back. The bank holding the lease? Maybe, but only at the risk of drawing EVEN MORE public backlash for their anti-people policies. Either you get the use of the building without struggle, or you make the landlord/bank look like total assholes. Either way, you win.

Had the upper hand. Had the positive face in media coverage. Had to go fuck it up with a half-assed plan and not nearly enough people to have pulled it off, especially at midnight knowing full well that there was a massive police force waiting for the first broken window or bonfire. Lost that upper hand, that forward momentum. Probably lost a sizable number of potential supporters too. Sad.

That being said, it may be a good idea to propose in GA that face masks/bandanas/ski masks are NOT welcome. And to those who hide behind them, if you plan on doing something illegal/destructive, grow up, take responsibility for it and show your face.
by tj
Kim, did you actually witness the firestart? Or are you relying on a comment you overheard to deduce that this would happen before any police action - and consequently left the scene without actually observing anything? The difference is between fact and heresay.
by Tatiana Makovkin
Taking this building was a good idea, but the action was not planned or executed correctly. The public has no idea about the backstory of the building or the intentions behind Occupying the building.

If your goal is to occupy a building, why would you do it in the public spotlight? If people really wanted to put the building to use, they would quietly, secretly, break into the building, and fill it with people. They could have actually begun USING the building. Then, they could gain public support before an eviction attempt by educating the public about the history of the building and the good use to which an empty building had been turned.

Instead they made a public statement. That means that this was not a practical action. It was not a real attempt to use the building, it was symbolic. And a symbolic action is designed to send a message. But what was the message?

There was a banner hung on the building that said "Occupy Everything" I watched the TV live news report and the anchorwoman spoke the words on the banner as part of the report. At the time I thought it was cute. But now that I read the above description of what people were supposedly trying to accomplish, I see that the banner should have carried a specific message about this particular building and action, to educate people about the story that was unfolding.

As for the "barricades", give me a break. I squatted in the Lower East Side in the early 90s. Evictions are not a game. The cops rolled a tank onto 13th street when they wanted the squatters out. A TANK.

Were these "protestors" actually intending to defend the building militarily? Did they think they had a chance? What is the point of barricades? What is the point of burning trash cans? Do you think that will make it possible for you to keep the building? Of course not. You know you can't win against their military might. We can only win against their limp morality, their shriveled integrity, and their flaccid principles. And we win by being morally strong, impeccable in our integrity and holding fast to wise and courageous principles of service and compassion. Service to the community. We win by expressing our morality, integrity and principles with clarity and grace.

The people who raged in the street last night were not motivated by an impulse to serve the community, that is clear. What did motivate them, really? Maybe they will do some introspection, look into themselves and ask of themselves what is true. Were they looking to have a good time? Craving excitement and adrenaline? Infatuated with their own egos and sense of identity? Were they swept up in the euphoric feeling that comes with being part of something, part of a group, a club?

This movement is not about being in a club. This is the 99%. This is for everyone. We show our faces. And when I say this movement is for everyone, I want to feel that this movement is for you too.

The people who were part of the drama that played out late last night need to look into their hearts. They need to ask themselves who they serve. If they are seeking to serve their own selfish needs, they don't hold a place of honor in this movement. They are the troublesome relation and we are all wondering how they will reconcile with the rest of the family. Maturity is expressed in a willingness to take responsibility. They should apologize. Publicly. They should work to mend the damage that they have caused to the spirit and reputation of this movement, a movement awash in beauty and humility. The people in this movement are so humble, none of them will claim to have the authority to lead or to speak for the other members. We represent ourselves, and we are all in leadership positions. Decentralized structure means that we are all responsible. You be responsible too, "anarchists". Be responsible on a spiritual level. Be responsible on an emotional level to the good, trusting people in this movement whom you have hurt. Be responsible on an intellectual level by thinking carefully about your goals and strategy and acting for the good of the whole.

Taking this building and starting a library and center of operations would have been an action that served the good of the whole. But that is not what you did. You didn't take a building. You just took a lot of attention and made the conversation center around yourselves. The people in the movement deserve better. The 99% deserve better. They deserve an apology.
by chemically injured comrade
Some of us wear face masks because we can't breathe without them. If you had been at the Disability Action Brigade action, you would have seen several of us with masks on hand, ready to shield ourselves from cigarette smoke, fragrances, incense, and sage burning, which so many of our comrades don't think twice about exposing us to.

For some of us masks are the equivalent of wheelchairs. You ban them, you will exclude certain disabled people from the movement. Disabled people are most definitely part of the 99%, and we are entitled to participate just like the rest of you.

Masks aren't the problem. Stay focused on what is.
by Katie B
They crashed your asinine party because you douche bags set fires in the middle of the fuc$%*& street. Do you really believe that true and lasting political reform is going to come from direct confrontation with law enforcement? When you light fires in public areas, break windows, destroy public property and otherwise act like a bunch of butt scratching baboons you alienate yourself from the moderate populace you should be courting. There are millions of people out there who aren't quite sure of what to make of the Occupy movement. These are people who would otherwise be sympathetic, if not outright supportive if they saw the true core political agenda that spawned the movement. So get your sh%@ together and quit acting surprised that OPD is up your ass when you act like psychopathic spoiled children. With so much at stake you need to focus on keeping your message distilled and to the point while co-opting legitimate political representation in voting legislative government bodies. So grow the hell up!
by squat effectively
Yes, the barricades were set on fire before the uniformed cops arrived. Jon Jackson posted a link in one of his comments above, that shows the fire, the attempt by some to put it out, and several people preventing them from doing so. The video ends as the cops arrive.

Now, I'm not going to claim that the fire started before cops out of uniform arrived. It's certainly possible that the fire was started by misguided activists, but it's no less possible that it was started by undercover cops. It wouldn't be the first time that cops set up protesters for violence by posing as activists.

Taking over the building was a great idea. Unless you were going to quietly sneak in, to first secure the building from the inside, there was no reason to keep the action secret. I know that many of us would have been there to help take it over, and to defend it if, and when the cops came. THEN setting barricades on fire might have made sense - maybe. The timing of squatting the building was fine. But the timing of the barricades and the fire made no sense, and doomed the action.
by 99
Those of you defending what went down Wednesday night should spend some time browsing photos of the thousands upon thousands of beautiful people who came out during the day on Wednesday. They're all over the internet.

How many of those people look like they would be into the heat you brought down on them? How many of them look like they would be more likely to come back next time after seeing what you did? And how could your nighttime antics possibly add in any way to what we all collectively pulled off earlier in the day?

I can relate to the desire to push things as far as possible. But I've been around long enough to know just how incredibly rare are moments of opportunity such as this one. We need to exercise maximum judgment and responsibility. Please let's not fuck it up.
by @east33rd
As many have said, the authors of the action and this letter need to address the overwhelming majority who are against what happened. I actually expected more to defend it, but no, we clearly have consensus that this does not represent the movement. So either apologize and commit to never doing it again, or acknowledge that YOUR ACTIONS ARE NOT PART OF THIS MOVEMENT.

And be honest, what is a bigger threat to the 1%? Tens of thousands from every community in Oakland peacefully stopping the flow of capital which we now know we can do, or a tiny isolated sect that will hand the corporate media precisely the images that will turn the public against this movement? When they decide to bulldoze occupy camps across the country, this street theater will give them all the pretense they need.

Can someone with a direct line to the Occupy Oakland twitter account make sure the responses on this page are made known to wider public? I've tried already but no response. People need to know how clear we are on this -- I truly believe OO's survival is at stake.
by A participant
Yep, Still no response- a real one anyone. The twitter and texting seems to be controlled by people who support (anybody can correct me if I'm wrong) this failed action. Why the hell was I texted by OO to meet at the north plaza at 10 that night?
by Anonymous
The 'taking' of this building was a ridiculous action that severely damaged not only the Occupy Oakland movement but the nationwide movement as a whole. The persons engaging in this action were deliberately provoking a confrontation with the police. I realize you are a bunch of kids from Pac Heights and Walnut Creek and feel entitled to do whatever you want because your parents will come over with high end lawyers, but the rest of us are attempting to foster a national social movement.

It seems as though you feel that all of the windows you smashed and fires you set will somehow injure the rich, but please consider that the earlier takeover of the port did hunderedsfold more economic damage to the rich than your broken windows and your self-indulgent tantrum means that less people are likely to come out for any subsequent actions.

The police are very much part of the working class, much more so than most of the black bloc kids I have met. Those of us who live in the deep east Oakland neighborhoods that rich, fashionable white kids like you never set foot in rely on the police for day to day protection. Yes some of the officers are brutes and they will obey orders from the mayor to break up a protest if these are issued, it is a massively imperfect system. But reaching out to police is a far more radical action than starting a fight with them. Imagine how much stronger a signal there would be to the rest of America if a year from now when Occupy Oakland marched through the streets, the police union sent representatives to march alongside us and officers cheered as we passed by; you wrecked any chances of that.

There is certainly an argument for the taking of this building, but the manner in which you did it, lighting fires, smashing windows, hurling threats of violence at police and everyone else around you, was designed to provoke a fight with the police. You wanted violence, shattered glass and flames, the corny cliche of a revolution. Real revolution takes work. If you hadn't thrown a fit, people could have later taken the building responsibly (a couple of people break in inconspicuously, change the locks, more people slowly move in, introduce it to the community by throwing the doors open and giving away food and books, there are no fires and no broken glass).

The next time we march, if I find out who any of you are, I will turn you over to the police for the sake of the revolution.
by PPtah
I'm sorry guys, but the logical first step of a peaceful resistance is NOT to go off on your own to create an action that destroys the integrity and majority support of the ENTIRE movement. This action was neither approved, nor condoned, by any General Assembly meeting. If you want to become a proto-military and confront authority figures in a violent fashion, then there are a thousand 'Branch Davidian' type organizations out there waiting for you to join. I hear they're very welcoming, and will even give you a fashionable new outfit with the latest in body armor to wear. They'll even teach your skinny little pussy asses how to fight.
However, I guarantee that is a dead end. Very dead.
Meanwhile, the actions of the police provocateurs on Wednesday night have absolutely nothing to do with #Occupy Oakland or #Occupy Together as a whole. Please organize your own protest, far away from us. Savvy?
If you want to stay part of the #Occupy Together movement, then please abide by the decisions of the General Assembly.
We're tired of Nazis. Please get over yourselves.
The mainstream corporate media is distorting and misleading, people. We need to tell the truth. I was there and witnessed it all, until 2 am. The media's simplistic narrative is created by changing cause and effect. People were peaceful, and took the building and remained peaceful UNTIL the police attacked without warning.

Its interesting how that is done in a very sneaky manner so its not an outright lie in terms of the facts but misleads and creates a false picture of reality nonetheless. They also try to divide people, saying its an extremist, fringe group. Actually it was the same mix of people of the larger group: all ages, background, etc—went into and occupied the empty building, and opened it back up for the people. It was not just the actions of the black block. The black block did come prepared to defend it and battle with the police though, as had gas masks, etc. But the action to take the building was just, and people approved it by voting with their feet.

The media focuses on a picture of people breaking windows, throwing things, destruction, creating fires, etc, so that the police were then forced to move in. Wrong. All that happened AFTER the police attacked. Before the people were peaceful, except they took over this building, and after being gassed and attacked, then some people took and fought back, and then things were broken, etc.

My only criticism is that it would be better to have publicized this action, and its intention before hand, so that everyone now what this action was about before taking it, thus pe-empting the media distortion.

My eyewitness account of the event, I wrote up that night after getting home: "Later in the night a group decided to take over former homeless service building that has been foreclosed on by the bank and left empty. So they took it over to run it by the people. It was a festival of the oppressed. Music was played. Dancing in the street. The hung a banner in side the buildings windows that read “Occupy Everything.” A direct affront to the sacred cow of private property.

This was two blocks away from the main camp center. We then saw a bus load of police arrive. People started to erect large barricades to defend the space, and keep the police away, using large dumpsters, turned over, and wooden pallets. Riot police moved in and formed a line.

At about 11 50 pm, after only a short time after forming their line, they shot tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd.

Despite media reports to the contrary, they did so without warning. Later they issued warnings, but the first attack of tear gas was done so without, starting the violent confrontation. I was to the side and in audible range when I witnessed this, from their onset until the actual attack. Even though I moved significantly away and to the side, the gas was very potent and strong and I found myself, surprising, in pain, being gassed as well. Other people around the area likewise were suffering from its effects.

The group in black had tear gas masks and stood their ground, and lit bon fires, and the battle continued on an off. I left at 2 am (have to work the next morning). At that time police were surrounded the encampment as well.
by Old Timer
It is complely irrelevant whether the fires were set and barricades built before or after the cops showed up. Folks seem to think that people doing stupid shit is somehow justifiable because the police are repressive.

I was there from start to finish. People seem to be saying that it was necessary to build the barricades and set the fire in order to defend the building. But nobody attempted to defend the building. It was empty when the police raided it. Which is good, because a bunch of us were standing outside expecting you to get your heads bashed in by the cops, which we did not want to see.

You don't need to convince me to dislike the police. I expect them to be violent. But provoking them and then using it as an excuse to engage in destructive actions that you wanted to undertake anyway, and then acting like you had no choice because the police made you do it insults our intelligence.

Your arguments would be slightly more coherent if your stupid acts had been related to defending yourselves or the building. But you didn't defend anything. You brought heat down and used it as an excuse to set fire and break windows. I call bullshit.
by GodlessK
Those fires and masks made for great photos to highlight the breathless paranoia on the fat cats' defenders' web sites. You gave them a great propaganda tool. You've played right into their hands and proven yourselves an obstacle to real change. The next time you want to play revolutionary, go put on your Che' t-shirt and rub yourself in front of your bathroom mirror.
by @east33rd

Sorry for chiming in so many times, but I want something positive to come from this. It's clear how the overwhelming majority of us feel about this and I want to translate that into a concrete statement that the GA can vote on. Not yet sure what that should look like, but if you have ideas please weigh in now and let us know if you are down to present it to the GA.

Beyond words, I'd like to see OO take actions to repair damage done to our city and small businesses, and damage done to people's trust. Before this incident, I planned to propose that OO pro-actively work to improve downtown Oakland through volunteer work crews and outreach to our neighbors (ask how can we help them) to counter the cost of OO (both real and perceived) to the city. Make OO an asset to Oakland rather than a liability.

Let's make the change we want starting now, rather than just chanting for it in the streets, which I believe was the intent of "some friends of OO," however botched that attempt was.

I'd also like to acknowledge that not all people who occupied that building deserve the full contempt that I and others have voiced. I can imagine being nearby and swept up in the moment, not necessarily lighting fires and taunting police oneself, and not able to fully grasp how it would all be perceived the next day. So to those people, I fully welcome your participation in helping turn this page.

If you want to discuss privately, I can be reached at Otherwise, leave your feedback here using the title "GA PROPOSAL SUGGESTIONS."

Thanks for the level-headedness.

by Old Timer
"I'd also like to acknowledge that not all people who occupied that building deserve the full contempt that I and others have voiced."

Thanks, East 33rd. I agree. The people there Wednesday night, by and large, were part of our movement and well-intentioned. The fact that few people have even tried to defend the disaster that took place suggests to me that there is a broad understanding, in hindsight, that Wednesday night was a big mistake.

I don't want to be too presumptuous about where those responsible came from or how old they are, but people need to take guidance from their elders. I'm sure there are plenty of people here who would have been inside the building when they were younger or under different political circumstances.

This is not Berlin in 1989 or Seattle in 1999 or Athens this year. This is Oakland in 2011. This is the USA in 2011. This is a special moment. Let's treat it that way, and not try to recreate fantasies from other places and times, or from inside our own heads.
by Gio
I think the plan to correctly proceed to occupy the building should be discussed by the GA. Its a worthy cause, and if done correctly, I think, has the majority support of the movement: people before bank's profits! Empty property foreclosed by the banks, is an absurd and irrational waste, in the light of people's needs. It can be turned into a people's service center again, run by volunteers, helping to bring value to the city's inhabitants.

It makes a strong statement against this upside down system of capitalist values putting private property rights above everything else to the extend that an empty building is kept empty because a bank can't make money on it. We need to repudiate that value system. We have our own value system that is in direct conflict with that. We have the moral high ground.

I also agree with the the idea to bring other services to bring value to Oakland, and mobilize further community--and world wide---support. The corp. media is trying to divide us. Lets not buy into their narrative, and lies. Its not a time to smash windows, either. Its a time to take pro-active actions, and one of those is to expand the Occupation when it makes sense for serving the needs of the people, and addressing what is wrong with this system of organized greed. The occupation of the building makes sense and should be struggled for, and agreement should be reached in the GA. Take your masks off and com and be a part of this debate. We are all on the same side, here.

We also should know that the establishment, the 'liberal" Mayor, and her cronies, and esp. the police are NOT our friends, and do NOT have our best interests in mind. They represent the big business and want us to go away. Lets not let them have the initiative to divide us or they will take it and run with it to our determent.
by Kim Lehmkuhl
...and what "hearsay" actually has to do with -- for evidentiary admissibility purposes in a court of law, by the way, which this isn't -- is whether the witness (me) is telling what she knows personally vs. what others have said to her. ( I have been very clear about what I did and did not see personally (Please see my comment above posted at 1:23am: "I didn't physically see a fire set, no."). I have also been very clear in detailing what I *did* see personally leading up to the point 10 minutes before the police arrived, in order to provide some much-needed context to this discussion about who acted and who reacted. The assertions on this comment thread that police "started it" are what are baseless, and a previous commenter (Jon Jackson at 2:45pm on Nov. 3) even provided a link to video (NOT shot by corporate media, by the way, it actually turns out to have been shot by a former neighbor of mine) SHOWING two minutes of a huge-ass fire burning BEFORE cops arrived (you can see the cherries flashing down the street in the background when cop cars do finally show up at the end of the video).

I don't and can't know that the particular individual who said "We need to set this shit on fire" was actually one of the ones who successfully did so, and so I'm not making that assertion. I *am* making the very well-supported assertion that the events at and around the Travelers Aid Society were peaceful and cop-free until some face-masked shitstirrers started physically making preparations to provoke violent conflict and drag everybody else into their riot porn circle-jerk that has nothing to do with ANYTHING Occupy is about.
by oleolo
The proposal before the general strike to support the occupation of vacant buildings passed overwhelmingly. This is what people did the other night, in a building perfect for use as a community center/library/dormitory. It WAS peaceful, and then the cops came. The nonviolence mafia gets things a bit backwards. They equate property destruction with physical violence, they believe that the media and/or the police can be our friends after all evidence to the contrary, and want to behave nicely to avoid bad responses from either.

The building occupation was the next logical step in the general strike, it was embraced by hundreds and hundreds of people out there that night, and then the cops came. There may be a pissed off adventurer/rogue/provocateur whatever throwing shit at cops, but that is just unavoidable. Its time to be pissed and militant and take what is ours anyway. Its not a demand if they don't have what we want
by To Oleolo
There have been few, if any, comments here from anyone who could be called the "nonviolence mafia." I don't hear anyone fetishizing nonviolence.

The GA may have endorsed occupying buildings, but they did not endorse building barricades, setting fires, and trashing buildings 100 yards away from the camp.

And what does the presence of the police have to do with whether it was OK to do these things? Could you explain what it was about the arrival of the police that made all that necessary? It certainly had nothing to do with defending the building occupation, because nobody tried to defend the building.

I, and I think most people here, are simply talking about what was appropriate at a certain place and time, i.e., Wednesday night in Oakland.
by Matt
"I have seen in these comments references to certain actions organized by white men, and then the same actions have also been said to have taken place by "apolitical" people of color. I think that people making these racialized comments should stop. They are counter-productive. There are good and bad activists of all races within our movement. Talk about what happened; don't talk about people's race."

No, we won't stop. It's very relevant and productive to point out that you black-hoods all are overwhelmingly WHITE and MALE in composition.
by jnl
Was the impulse to take a vacant building and turn it into a community-oriented space in line with the goals of OO? Should it be? That's a debate worth having. The way it went down on Wednesday night was obviously problematic. But what if we were to take one of the numerous empty downtown buildings in a well organized, collective act of community spirit?
by Matt
"B) Up until the Whole Foods incident, the majority of the people around me---numbering in about 2 dozen, none of them in black bloc---were yelling "smash it up, tear it down" with the rest of the black bloc, and many of them were holding black flags as well. Don't assume this is a white know-it-all college kid attitude; however unwilling many people may be to admit it, I sincerely doubt anyone is going to lose any sleep over Wells Fargo's windows"

This is exactly why the label" "agent provocateur" applies so justifiably to the White Boys in Black. It is not too difficult to incite an otherwise peaceful crown on the streets.
by Matt
Absolutely agree with your title and sentiments, but am opposed to turning blackbloc'ers over to the cops.

We need to deal with them ourselves.

We need to make Oakland a place they will fear to tread.

They are a problem that needs solving.
by occupier
I was apart of the building take over and the reality was quite different then my personal vision for the action. Our intentions were good but i feel major mistakes were made. Primarily taking the building at night, especially that night. I think many felt that our only chance for holding the building relied on the numbers and energy present from the strike. The reality was, not only were there hundreds more cops on the streets then normal, but there were also hundreds more people that wanted to enact a more romantic vision of insurrection instead of deeply considering what it would really take to hold that building.
I had hoped a group would occupy the building, lock it up tight and discuss the future for the space. I didnt think it would be hundreds of people having a party and building barricades in the streets. I believe it was the party and the barricades that brought the police, not the occupation.
In hind sight, if we had done it the day after, in the day time, it could have been chill. The police would have responded much slower and with much fewer numbers, giving us a change to actually defend the space. We could have claimed ownership thereby (in theory) placing the burden of proof on the lending group to prove their ownership. A process that could get tied up in civil court for a long time wile we continue to occupy and use the building.
I place the blame on our bad timing, not on the black bloc who was attempting to defend the space. I hope this dosnt scare people from occupying more buildings, because it needs to be done. Lets learn, and do the next one right. P.S. please put up your bullshit toy tags on banks and other fucked up entities, not our community spaces or local business' .
by Adam
I fully agree with two points made by a number of posters here about the attempted occupation at 16th and Broadway Wed night:

1) Occupying or reoccupying buildings left vacant because of foreclosure, abandonment, or whatever other capitalist reason is a positive and even necessary step for the movement. I would add that we should look for ways to exploit cracks in the structure of property law that allow an argument to be made for the occupation's justness or defensibility. For example, the left wing of the Democratic party has been calling for foreclosed-on homeowners to occupy their homes until and unless the bank can produce the actual mortgage documents. Likewise, where empty houses or apartment buildings are creating blight (trash, vermin, criminal activity such as drug dealing) they can be occupied in the name of public health and safety. Every time the movement takes a step like this, creating the new society within the shell of the old bit by bit, it weakens the powers that be.

2) The way in which the occupation was carried out on Wednesday night, and the accompanying mayhem, which so far as I can tell was willfully provoked by the people responsible, was misguided from start to finish. In the first place, its main result was to present an image of those responsible as violent vandals and provocateurs. Having scanned the MSM treatment of the action I don't think it succeeded in seriously damaging the image of the Occupy movement as a whole. However, it did help to give anarchism a bad (or worse) name among many Occupiers and supporters, which is unfortunate. Genuine social anarchism is one of the traditions on which this movement has drawn, whether consciously or otherwise. The great anarchist thinkers--Kropotkin, Goldman, Malatesta, Bookchin--have all argued that an anarchy, defined as a freely cooperative society without coercive hierarchy, requires greatly *increased* responsibility and accountability from the individual or group. Up to now, the Occupy movement has understood and acted on this principle with amazing effectiveness. It presents a model, tentative but inspiring, of democratic, voluntary self-organization.

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING, is more dangerous to the Old World and its powers than this fledgling countersociety. It demonstrates that our rulers' institutions and codes are worse than useless, that they are parasitic and destructive, and that WE are the true force of order, of cooperation, of democracy, of compassion--and of beauty.

This last point is crucial. Over and over again, the adjective that people use on encountering the Occupation for the first time is "beautiful." It is *beautiful* to see human beings of multiple ages and ethnicities living together, sharing and caring for one another, debating freely, making poetry out of grievance, art out of anger, humor out of scorn, showing calm determination in the face of Power's brutality and lies. The free medical tents and free childcare areas and free libraries and free kitchens are the tiny seeds of the New World. They must be cherished and fed and grown. Growing them means occupying and transforming what capitalism has left to rot--and making it beautiful.

This is the opposite, need it be said, of smashing windows or trashing buildings. It is the opposite of building barricades--anyway completely useless as a tactic--or setting fires. Those acts leave ugliness, not beauty. They repel rather than attracting. Occupy Everywhere says: our values are better than their prices, our truth is stronger than their lies, our dream is better than their nightmare, our world will be better than theirs. We embody beauty and life. They embody ugliness and death. We are the flawed, faltering products of this Old World with all its relentless cruelty and violence and selfishness, but we are trying to make a new world of community, cooperation, and freedom. This is what, as much as possible, everything we do must express.

I appreciate your willingness to speak. Dialogue is one thing that distinguishes civil disobedience & direct action from crime & thuggery.

At the moment, I do not think your actions were an Occupation.

I think what you did was an Exploitation.

I am telling you what I think, & the questions I have, in hopes of changing your mind, or learning from your answers.

While you were moving in library books (but not food, water, toilets, or any other essentials for an actual Occupation?), the tens of thousands of people who planned, marched, & made that remarkable day of resistance happen were resting tired muscles, joining in pride & celebration, & hoping that no overnight vandalism or violence would create a distraction from the people’s success.

While you were taking your “important next step” in your “perfect” building, I was walking the line of police around the corner, looking them in the eyes & reminding them that we’re all people behind our uniforms, whether it’s black jeans & bandanas or blue body armor & helmets. I was asking them to remember that we are all the 99%.

Your explain how your “important next step” in your “perfect” building fits into your theory of anti-capitalism, but nothing about the goal of OWS & OO to expose the danger of the 1% & build the power of the 99%.

You claim the fires were lit & the windows broken after the police arrived. That’s just false. The bonfire was lit at 16th. Spray painting & window smashing were already going on.

I believe you are either dangerously naïve, or dangerously arrogant. I am open to being proven wrong about this.

If you can answer these questions, you will go a long way towards showing that I’m the one who’s being naïve or arrogant.

1. If this step was so important, why wasn’t it done with better planning?

2. How is a building “perfect” when it can’t be held even for a day?

3. Why did you move in books, before food, water, temporary toilets?

4. How is a building “perfect” that’s on a hard to reach side street, with no escape routes?

5. How is a building “perfect” when it’s so close to Oscar Grant Plaza that many in the Occupy camp feared they would be caught up in the police response?

6. If this step was so “important,” why take it on a night when police departments from all around the region were already on call?

7. If this step was so “important,” why take it when so many potential participants &/or supporters were off to rest & celebrate & weren’t paying attention?

8. If this step was so “important” & this building so “perfect,” why waste the advantage of surprise on a night when you were so unready; when the police opposition was so much on alert; when the much larger community of protest was done for the day?

9. Why were you surprised by the police response when it was so similar to their actions on the morning of 10/25, & so similar to their actions at the end of the Oscar Grant protests?

10. Are you sincerely confused by the difference between how the police responded to the openly planned, highly organized march on the port involving more than 10,000 peaceful protesters, and how the police responded to the surprise invasion of a building, which if it was planned at all was done in secret?

11. Have you bothered to read the police & mayor’s accounts, which make clear that they worked closely together to avoid the police response escalating into a shut down of the encampment?

12. How do you think other Occupations will be “encouraged” by what actually happened?

13. Have you prepared any announcements, info sheets, any way of getting your word out to the community, the media, the other Occupations?

14. Did you have any real plan for a long term Occupation of the building?

15. Did you organize your action through the General Assembly process?

16. Will you be getting word out in any way about what you want OO, the larger community, other Occupations, the 99%, to learn from your actions?

17. What difference do you see between a poorly planned invasion for a handful of hours that leaves behind only photographs, arrests, & distrust… & an intentional hijacking by movement infiltrators?

I am sincerely ready to take answers to these questions. Unanswered, I believe all you gained was a photo opportunity. I believe you encouraged distrust and fear between protesters. I believe you gave evidence to those who oppose our movement. I believe you exploited the actions of the community. I believe you exploited the power of the General Assembly.

I believe your actions show more thought & intelligence than the window smashing & spray painting vandalism.

I believe your actions show more Anarchist spirit than the thugs gathered around the fire who threatened violence against anyone who tried to put it out.

& until you educate me otherwise, I believe you exploited the community, & should seek ways to atone & hold yourselves accountable.
by spukkin
huge props to you for a self-critical analysis..learning from this mistake is important.

i wonder if anyone involved in the action had been in contact with Homes Not Jails, they have years of experience. and they also know the difference between a symbolic takeover, and one that's meant to endure...

my bad for lumping in "blac bloc" and those attempting the takeover, but i hope you all can see how these guys tend to be a liability. they seem to be especially vulnerable to co-option by provocateurs, and the only trick in their bag seems to be smashing windows and making crap barricades. and shitty tags.

by My thoughts only
This is a good conversation to have, as I am tired of being viewed as an "other" simply for embracing my own forms of anarchy and not those of a vocal few. I have been personally attacked by some of these people; they like to use methods of intimidation or “otherness” when attacking. “You have not been here since the beginning.” I have. “You are not the ‘real’ Occupy Oakland.” I am.

I have been there since the first meeting at 1pm on a Tuesday afternoon on a cloudy day in Mosswood Park. I rode my bike, despite a partial flat tire. I came in solidarity, I came for a moment that I have been anticipating and dreaming of for years. Without trepidation, I joined in, regardless of the utter disrespect of the process of consensus-building, participatory democracy. Within the first hour I realized that we would be re-naming Frank Ogawa Plaza “Oscar Grant Plaza.” This was not a motion we voted on, we were “told” that ‘we have decided to re-name the Plaza.” I’m not sure who “we” was, but I was there and there was no vote among the days participants. This was unnerving, but not nearly enough to make me stop what was a movement of common sense and unity that I had been following and championing in heart, soul and now, in person.

Hindsight is 20/20 and the further you get from the picture, the more you take in. I have been there from the beginning, as much as some may want to silence that fact. I have had confrontations, none by my instigation, but calm in the end for the most part. I have given my heart and soul to this movement and I do not intend on stopping, no matter who the perceived enemy may be. However, I do have to explain my own, personal form of Anarchy:

At the crash of the market, I lost a good portion of my 401k, I felt disconnected, disenfranchised and generally alone. I quit my corporate job, cashed out what was left of my 401k and went to ‘live off the grid.’ This has not been an easy form of personal anarchy, but it has only hurt me, I have left little destruction in my way of activism. I quit paying my student loans, I quite paying my credit cards (these were viewed as chains as far as I was concerned) I did what I had to do to make an anarchical statement, but I only hurt myself in this statement.

Living off the grid, without credit or respect, is not easy. You can find yourself in situations where you are working even harder to live outside the system. It can be personally humiliating, especially for a person that abided by the system for so long.

Anarchy has many tactics, I understand. But limiting the liability outside of yourself should be a tenant of anarchism. To do otherwise is an unfair as the system we live in.

Anarchy can be used as a good, powerful statement. It can also be used as a big brush to paint a body politic as negative. Our goals are positive, together we can achieve them!
by anonanon
hey riotporn, the anarchists didn't fuck up that dude's spleen. the pigs did.
by A participant
Thank you for the critical evaluation of your action. I though your comments were good and owning up to this rather big mistake will help the movement go forward. Respect for that.

That said Im fucking pissed. The movement had a motherfucking head of steam until this jackass of an action took place. The people that came to play revolutionary for the night did a lot of damage and we need to still assess that.

I hope you go back to your comrades and do a very sober reflection of your actions. Take responsibility and do something so this bullshit doesn't get repeated. We're counting on you to do this at the very minimum.

by anonanon
riotporn, so its ok when the cops beat you if they decide that you deserve it?

did you read the other things people have said in this thread about how nonsensical the idea of "provoking" the police is?

your politics are boring as fuck.
by anonanon
read this thread

pay attention to what "sphynx" wrote. i don't know that person, but i wish i did.
by The Watcher
I have mixed feelings about the tactics used to defend the building. I do want to clarify something people seem to keep mentioning, the fire happened before the police arrived. The thing is, the fire happened after scouts had confirmed the police were coming. People were scrambling to get ready for a confrontation and assumed attack from thousands of riot cops. That was how the information was delivered. It was tense, and there wasn't time to think. this was why barricades were constructed, materials were gathered for defense, and some people got more input than others about how this was going to go down. I do think there wasn't enough preparation on the defense end. People assumed that if there was an exit, then they could get away with facing off against the police without consequence. I am now under the impression that many people didn't understand how the escalation was going to effect them, in the camp or in the building. I am sad that this went down like this, and while the police were around certain people lost restraint and indiscriminately damaged places that didn't make much political sense in the moment. Lashing out because of anger and frustration of the police deciding to emerge. There was bravery shown, and there was also revolutionary posturing, but it shouldn't undermine the overwhelming success of the day and is a great lesson to take back and be better aware of strengths and limitations for next time. There will be a need for repair work to get the radicals all on board again. But I think most people were pretty excited about the whole days work up that point, even the targeted smashing of banks and whole foods, and even the surprise of a building takeover to finish the day. Had just a fraction of that giant march from the port came back to Oscar Grant Plaza, things would have been very different, and this of course was the true miscalculation.
by anonanon
i just want to point out that the overwhelming majority of the liberals are saying that they support the building takeover, many support the shit that went down at the banks, and a few of you don't mind the bonfires...

yall coming around. good job.
by think
That's an incredibly selective reading of what people are saying, one that misses the point entirely.

People are actually saying:

1. The building takeover was a tactical mistake, carried out in a shortsighted manner that was destructive to the goals of that day. That OO can't hold the building by force alone, it needs popular support. We are in danger of losing that. And it may take some patience and actual planning to place ourselves in a position where it could feasibly happen.

2. People see little value in smashing up the local businesses with signs in their windows supporting the strike. Yes, people were willing to accept some damage to the banks, but it still reads - at this time - as posturing. You think it cost WF a nights sleep to replace a fucking window? No, they probably left it unboarded hoping that you would smash it for the media. Good job.

3. I haven't seen much, or any, support for the bonfires and street fights that went down that night.

What people actually want is for those who carried out the acts to think a bit more critically, demonstrate respect for the rest of the people who came out, admit their missteps, and join in finding a solution. Blindly doubling down out of ideological stubbornness shows little imagination or creativity.

If you and sphynx want to have a revolution of two, go do so. But if you really agree with sphynx, then you have to admit you have no real interest in working with others towards common goals and little respect for ninety-plus percent of the people who came out that day. Who do you hope to draw in to enlarge our numbers, if you can't stand listening to the people who are onboard now? This also applies to a few others further upthread, talking about how "tiring" it is to have to listen to how their actions effect other people. Do you know who else is tired of hearing about how their actions effect other people? The banks.

And riotporn, please chill out. You are going overboard and it is not helping.
by think
I didn't mean to offend you or chase you off. I felt things needed to get back to a more civil tone is all. Everyone here feels strongly, just like you.
by in solidarity
I heard several people say that this building is currently bank owned or something (that the Travelers Aid society lost their lease). I do not purport to know what happened to the organization BUT I looked up the public records on the building and The Travelers Aid Society of Alameda County Inc is listed as the current owner of that building- there does not seem to be any mortgage taken out in that last 10 years...
by get your fingers out
It is shocking to read dozens of nuanced, well thought out thoughtful critiques by people who are clearly radical and far from pacifist and then read the responses from the few defenders of the Weds games.

"They started it and you're all just non-violence fetishists who don't understand the revolution" - Talk about boring, one dimensional politics. Get you fingers out of your ears and hear what people (almost everyone) are actually saying. You are not more radical just because you throw shit. Grow up.
by Woman of color
After Wed night and the so-called "open forum" on strategies, tactics, violence, nonviolence, the next night at OO, I was seriously considering walking away. I was also really questioning what being anarchist really meant for me. But after reading the well-thought out, nuanced and logical responses of so many other radical and anarchist leaning people here and on the link below, I feel more proud than even before for being an ANARCHIST and am willing to be more public about it than before:
by think
Can you talk a bit more about what you heard at the GA Thursday night? I've heard some reports, but I'm interested in your take.
by John L.
I've not had the chance to read all the comments on this article, but I have some opinions on the actions taken on Wed. night in Oakland:
by arel
Here are some points taken from a link by Jon ( I think he was right, this article has some very important points about not just the Wednesday night events, but for all Occupy's.-

Consider this characterization by George Lakey:

“Diversity of tactics” implies that some protesters may choose to do actions that will be interpreted by the majority of people as “violent,” like property destruction, attacks on police vehicles, fighting back if provoked by the police, and so on, while other protesters are operating with clear nonviolent guidelines.

Since the early stages of the movement, it is true, those taking part have been in a deadlock on the question of making a commitment to nonviolence. At a planning meeting in Tompkins Square Park prior to September 17, I recall one young man in dark sunglasses saying, knowingly, “There is a danger of fetishizing nonviolence to the point that it becomes a dogma.” In response, a woman added a “point of information,” despite being in contradiction to what Gandhi or King might say: “Nonviolence just means not initiating violence.” The question of nonviolence was ultimately tabled that night and thereafter. “This discussion is a complete waste of time,” someone concluded.

Property damage and self-defense, therefore, have remained on the table. The main points of the march guidelines subsequently promulgated by the occupation’s Direct Action Committee are these:

1. Stay together and KEEP MOVING!
2. Don’t instigate cops or pedestrians with physical violence.
3. Use basic hand signals.
4. Empowered pace keeps at the front, back and middle of every march. These folks are empowered to make directional decisions and guide the march.
5. We respect diversity of tactics, but consider how our actions may affect the entire group.

“For us to go around and police everyone in the march is not respecting their way of expressing how they’re participating in this movement or this action,” says Sandy Nurse of Occupy Wall Street’s Direct Action Committee. She is describing a philosophy of organizing, primarily; violence and forms of property destruction are, at best, secondary to this approach, and they’re not really necessary for it to be practiced effectively.

My sense of the dynamics at play here is something like the following. The NYPD, as a hierarchical, highly-structured organization, operates according to certain plans and procedures arranged in advance. Its commanders gain the best intelligence they can about what protesters intend to do and act accordingly. When the protesters act outside the plans police prepared for, or their plans aren’t unified, the police feel they have no choice but to resort to a violent crackdown, which in turn highlights the protesters’ own nonviolence in the media reports, and their movement grows. The net effect is that it almost seems as if the police are intentionally trying to help the movement, for that’s what their every action seems to do.

Wrote nonviolence trainer Betsy Raasch-Hilman, in mid-2000:

In terms of numbers, many demonstrations have been larger than the actions in Seattle. The difference between the WTO protests and the Million Man March on Washington, D.C., (for example) was that people did not all do the same thing at the same time in Seattle. Spontaneity ruled the day(s). As in the physics of chaos, seemingly random events emerged into a pattern, and almost as quickly dissolved into a less-identifiable pattern.

A major reason why traditional forms of civil disobedience aren’t well-suited to Occupy Wall Street is the fact that the occupiers aren’t even capable of breaking the relevant laws in the first place. While those in the civil rights movement could sit in the wrong part of a segregated bus, the occupiers at Liberty Plaza can’t exactly flout campaign finance laws, or laws regarding the regulation of banks. Such laws are simply beyond the reach of most Americans—which is exactly the problem. Consequently, the movement is being forced to resort not to civil disobedience but to what political scientist Bernard Harcourt has proposed we call “political disobedience”:

Civil disobedience accepted the legitimacy of political institutions, but resisted the moral authority of resulting laws. Political disobedience, by contrast, resists the very way in which we are governed: it resists the structure of partisan politics, the demand for policy reforms, the call for party identification, and the very ideologies that dominated the post-War period.

Diversity of tactics is a form of political disobedience par excellence, as its emphasis on autonomy rather than authority represents a direct contradiction to the kind of order that ordinary politics presupposes.
by Felix
Here's another voice expressing what I hope is a respectful critique of the black bloc tactics used on Nov 2nd, in detail, here:

When I first heard about the building takeover it sounded really exciting. The more I hear about it though the more frustrated I am. I believe that the folks who worked on this had a positive intent, but we need to think much more honestly and critically about how our actions can cause harm to the people we claim to be in solidarity with. "Diversity of tactics" sounds like each tactic is totally neutral in it's impact to each other tactic (not to mention to the larger community) and that's just not true. Let's get honest with ourselves.
The following is from a 2010 Greenpeace blog about the G8/G20 protests:

Nonviolence vs. Diversity of Tactics: The case for nonviolent protest at the G8/G20 summits
By Philippe Duhamel and Dave Martin

This three-part blog supports peaceful protest, and nonviolent action in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The authors challenge the concept of Diversity of Tactics, which has been used to encourage and condone violence, at great cost to the social change movement.

There are basically two different types of tactics: violent and nonviolent. To bring about change, each relies on radically different mechanisms.

Violence relies on intimidation of the opponent, with a clear threat of destruction. It is rooted in the belief that opponents change only when they fear for themselves and their possessions. Pushed to its limit, it is terrorism.

Nonviolent tactics are rooted in the belief that opponents can change willingly or, when that fails, that they can be forced to concede and change through organized mass noncooperation. This includes strikes and boycotts, or nonviolent direct actions such as civil disobedience, blockades, sit-ins and civil resistance raids. Pushed to its limit, this is about People Power becoming strong enough to challenge and change corporate and governmental power structures.

Some tactics don’t mix

Like an ecosystem, an effective social change movement rests on a delicate balance that can be disrupted. Fighting police is the tactical equivalent of spraying Agent Orange on a rainforest – the impact is devastating, indiscriminate and widespread – only the most hardened species survive. When violent tactics are introduced into a mix of creative nonviolent tactics, the environment is quickly reduced to projectile-throwing, masked, mostly male, black-clad monoculture. When the Black Bloc have thrown their last rocks, then run and hide, and only the police remain.

So not all tactics are compatible with each other. Violent and nonviolent tactics rely on different change mechanisms, and operate under radically different, and incompatible strategic dynamics.

Agents provocateurs

A key feature of many high-profile protests has been the government use of paid undercover agents to foment and carry out acts of violent provocation – the French named them "agents provocateurs" in the 19th century.

Supporters of Diversity of Tactics consistently fail to address this question: If throwing rocks and smashing property are such powerful threats to capitalism, why does the State pay people to do it?

The answer is that security forces recognize how much such tactics help them do their job: controlling and repressing protests, while justifying their enormous budgets with dramatic media images. What better way to justify the staggering $933 million security budget for the 2010 G8/G20 summits in Huntsville and Toronto?

Who knows for sure if the Ottawa fire bombing on May 18 2010 was not encouraged or conducted by provocateurs? In the early 1970's, half the bombings carried out in Quebec were the work of the police. On the eve of the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, a group calling itself "Germinal" was the target of a high-profile police entrapment operation, and its violent plans became the subject of prime time news.

A radical, nonviolent mass movement can impose far greater political costs on the system than a few smashed store windows. A movement that condones violence is easy to discredit, derail, and repress.

Violence is an injury to all

It seems logical that ‘peaceful’ and violent protests can be segregated and divided into zones at events like the G8/G20 summits. The argument is made that protesters should not let tactical considerations divide them. It is suggested that protesters can simply agree to disagree, and allow all of the possible tactics to be staged together, or at different times.

Aside from issues of principle, the problem is that the designation of "green" or "yellow" zones carries no guarantee that those spaces will not be invaded by the police, or that peaceful demonstrations won’t be used as a cover and hiding place for rock throwers. In fact, this is exactly what has happened elsewhere.

There will inevitably be confusion between peaceful “family-friendly” events and other potentially violent events. And protesters at events like the G8/G20 summits will be lumped together by most media, and most of the people who follow those media. The irresponsible violent actions of a few individuals will be the defining image of the protest, instead of the responsible peaceful actions of the vast majority.

Reduced political space

One of the greatest casualties of Diversity of Tactics is the absolute reduction of political space for collective, nonviolent direct action, and civil disobedience.

Nobody wants to do a peaceful, sit-in blockade while taunts and rocks fly over their heads. In Seattle in 1999, and in other instances since, black-clad "protesters" have been seen provoking police while truly courageous protesters were doing peaceful civil disobedience actions on the front lines, taking the brunt of the police attacks as they were provoked. Black Bloc communiqués have claimed that their role was to "protect" the nonviolent activists. In fact, they were jeopardizing their safety.


The Diversity of Tactics concept needs to be openly debated and challenged. Three simple questions should be answered:

1. What tactics are going to be explicitly excluded. For instance, will throwing projectiles, molotov cocktails, setting fires, etc. be rejected?

2. How will we actually prevent the rejected tactics and behaviours from happening?

3. If rejected tactics happen anyway, how should we distance ourselves from them?

Without clear answers to these questions, organizations and individuals should reject coalitions and groupings based on Diversity of Tactics.

Nonviolent action is the only way to build a successful mass movement for social change. Without nonviolent action, there is no real respect for true diversity of tactics.
by true_leveller
The cadre that pulled this weak stunt is most likely infiltrated. The fuzz want to deflate any potential for sustained mass social movement. Look at the failings and success of the MTST & take back the land if you really want to occupy buildings. This photo op did not help people who have been forclosed on become housed. This photo op was not an honest attempt to to occupy the building. It's an intentional attempt to tank the Occupy movement.
by Arctic Patriot
Kim said: "Nonviolent action is the only way to build a successful mass movement for social change."

Nonviolent tactics the only effective means for change? They are only part of the picture.
I believe the Sons of Liberty might have had some differences with you on that.
It takes a nonviolent faction backed by force.
Ghandi, believe it or not, was backed by force/the threat of force and violence. So was Martin Luther King Jr.
Read your history...
Without direct action, Occupy will be co-opted by the establishment and fade into irrelevance, just as happened to the "Tea Party". Resist. AP

by find cell (forgot121 [at]
I wanted to show how incongruous it can seem to discuss net art mailing lists, as it were, ‘off list’. And I wanted to question whether academic conferences and books are really the right locations in which to ‘capture’ the meaning of such art forms.
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