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My Letter to the People in Black Masks Who Like to FSU
by Tatiana
Friday Nov 4th, 2011 2:14 PM
I posted this open letter on my FaceBook page and it has been reposted, "liked" and supported by comments consistently in the hours since. So I want you to know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Because this movement has made us all into leaders, cooperatively, we are all invested in what is happening in a way that feels very personal. Many good people were saddened, demoralized and hurt when they saw the glorious general strike day, the dawn of a new era, disintegrate into an old-school confrontational mess.
I wrote this to the activists who ended Oakland's successful, historic, and peaceful general strike of Wednesday, November 2, by brawling with police outside an abandoned building.

I wrote in response to an article they released the next day which describes their plans to occupy the building, as well as their flimsy interpretations of the context surrounding the events. "The building we chose was perfect:" they write, "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.”

The author of this piece goes on to explain that the police reacted forcefully because "they fear this logical next step from the movement more than anything else." etc. If you want to read the full article it is here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/03/18697018.php

Here is my response.

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 Joseph From Berkeley
Monday Nov 7th, 2011 1:42 PM
I also reposted your commentary under:

"Thoughts on Occupy Oakland’s Historic General Strike: Celebration & Sobering Lessons"

- by Davey D

http://hiphopandpolitics.com/2011/11/04/thoughts-on-oakland-occupy-general-strike-celebration-sobering-lessons/comment-page-1/#comment-49576

reposted November 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

and

"A Great Day in Oakland-Thoughts on the General Strike & the Unrest That Followed"

- by Davey D

http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/a-great-day-in-oakland-thoughts-on-the-general-strike-the-unrest-that-followed/#comment-29543

reposted November 7, 2011, at 1:56 pm

and

"Thoughts on Occupy Oakland’s Historic General Strike - w photos, videos & blogs - Davey D"

[posted by Joseph From Berkeley]

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/06/18697938.php?show_comments=1#18698115

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/06/18697938.php

Monday Nov 7th, 2011 1:38 PM
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