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What really happened at Occupy Oakland on Saturday January 28
by reposted from Boogie Man Journal
Sunday Jan 29th, 2012 9:32 AM
For the internet, here's a first-hand account of Occupy Oakland on 1/28/2012, because the news never tells the full story. I'll tell you about the street battle, the 300+ arrests, the vandalism, the flag burning, all in the context of my experience today. This is deeper than the headlines. No major news source can do that for you. The stated goal for the day was to "move-in" to a large, abandoned, building to turn it into a social and political center. It is a long vacant convention center - the only people ever near there are the homeless who use the space outside the building as a bed. The building occupation also draws attention to the large number of abandoned and unused buildings in Oakland. The day started with a rally and a march to the proposed building. The police knew which building was the target, surrounded it, and used highly mobile units to try and divert the protest. After avoiding police lines, the group made it to one side of the building. Now, this is a very large building, and we were on a road with construction fences on both sides, and a large ditch separating us from the cops. The police fired smoke grenades into the crowd as the group neared a small path around the ditch, towards the building. They declared an unlawful assembly, and this is when the crowd broke down the construction fence. A few people broke fences to escape the situation, others because they were pissed. A couple more fences were taken down then necessary, but no valuable equipment was destroyed. They only things broken were fences.
The crowd decided to continue moving, and walked up the block to a more regular street. We decided to turn left up the street, and a police line formed to stop the march. They again declared an unlawful assembly. The protesters challenged the line, marching towards the police with our own shields in front. The shields, some small and black and a few large metal sheets. The police fired tear-gas as the group approached, and shot less-than-lethal rounds at the crowd. The protesters returned one volley of firecrackers, small projectiles, and funny things like balloons. A very weak attack, 3 officers may have been hit by something but none of them got injured. Tear gas forced many people back. The protesters quickly regrouped, and pressed the line again. This time the police opened fire with flash-grenades, tear gas, paint-filled beanbag shotguns, and rubber bullets.

After the police fired heavily on the protesters, they pushed their line forward and made a few arrests. The protesters regrouped down the block and began to march the other way (followed by police), back to Oscar Grant Plaza.

All of this occurred during the day, but it was that street battle that set the tone for the police response later in the evening. After taking a break in Oscar Grant Plaza, feeding everyone and resting, the group headed out for their evening march. Around 5pm, the group took to the street at 14th and Broadway and began a First-amendment sanctioned march around the city. The police response was very aggressive.

About 15 minutes into the march, the police attempted to kettle the protesters. This march was entirely non-violent; nobody threw shit at the cops and an unlawful assembly was never declared. . This is a very important detail. The march was 1000+ strong, conservatively. The police were very mobile, using 25+ rented 10seater vans to bring the 'troops' to the march.

For their first attempt at a kettle, the cops charged the group with police lines from the front and back. They ran towards us aggressively. Us being 1000+ peaceful marching protesters. The group was forced to move up a side street. The police moved quickly to surround the entire area; they formed a line on every street that the side street connected to. Police state status: very efficient. They kettled almost the entire protest in the park near the Fox theater. AFTERWARDS, as in after they surrounded everyone, they declared it to be an unlawful assembly BUT OFFERED NO EXIT ROUTE. Gas was used, could of been tear or smoke gas. The crowd then broke down a fence that was on one side of the kettle, and 1000 people ran across a field escaping a police kettle and embarrassing the entire police force. It was literally a massive jailbreak from a kettle. The group re-took Telegraph ave. and left the police way behind.

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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by (a)
Sunday Jan 29th, 2012 10:10 AM
Thanks for the write up. It is nice to read a first-hand account instead of the BS in the corporate media so soon after the marches. Cheers!
by .cp
Sunday Jan 29th, 2012 11:33 AM
this has some interesting illustration of major articles copying lines from Oakland press releases. Nice that they were able to catch this
by Phillip Stoaks
Tuesday Jan 31st, 2012 2:46 PM
This is a declaration by Oaktown Pirate, an amateur reporter who was livestreaming from the Occupy protests in Oakland on Saturday, January 28, 2012. In it he details what he saw that day, and includes links to the video he took.
by zunguzungu
Tuesday Feb 21st, 2012 5:20 PM

Stenography Journalism, Oakland Edition

I want to start with this CNN article:

(CNN) – Occupy activists tossed pipes, bottles, burning flares and other objects Saturday at Oakland police, who responded by using tear gas and smoke grenades and arresting more than 100 demonstrators, city and police officials said.

Now, I have no difficulty believing that at least a few protesters threw things at the police, though we should also be extremely skeptical; they always say that, and it’s at least usually not true (or at least wildly exaggerated). But while I had an obstructed view of those events – and I know what I did and didn’t see – it’s very easy for you, when you read a news article like CNN’s, to not see the most important clause in the article, the last one, “city and officials said.” This indicates for you (or should) that CNN is essentially doing to OPD’s press release the same thing that desperate college students sometimes do with wikipedia articles: copy and paste, and then change just enough words so that it isn’t plagiarism. CNN was not there yesterday, so they only saw what the Oakland Police Department told them to see. OPD wrote this:

Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares.

And then CNN wrote down a garbled version of it. Similarly, they took this paragraph from the OPD press release:

By 12 pm, a crowd of approximately 250 had gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza for the Occupy rally. Just before 1:30 pm, the group started marching southbound on Broadway. As the group of approximately 450 marched, traffic disruptions occurred on downtown streets.

And (slightly) re-wrote it as:

The tension began Saturday around noon when about 250 activists gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza. They were joined later by another 200 people as they marched around the city.

They turned “12 pm” into “around noon” and they copied down OPD’s crowd estimates exactly (ABC7 guessed 2,000; I would have guessed about a thousand), and slightly altered the wording to cover their trail. After that, to their credit, they found the time to copy and paste text from the Occupy Oakland twitter feed and web site. And then they called it a day and went home, apparently; while real journalists were still being arrested while doing their jobs (Susie Cagle and Gavin Aronsen were both arrested, despite having press passes, then later “unarrested”), the good people at CNN were finished putting the imprimateur of “objective” journalism on OPD’s press release, and laughed all the way to the bank.

Pretty much exactly the same thing happened with the New York Times article, which has exactly the same architecture: liberal excerpts/paraphrasing from OPD press release, followed by copied text from activist social media. Even the Oakland Tribune managed to not only paraphrase the OPD press release – and they’re a terrible newspaper, but still, they’re right there – but also to get the time of the weekly march wrong:

In what has become a weekly march, about 250 protesters gathered around noon at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza for a rally. At 1:30 p.m., the group began marching with a crowd of about 450 protesters. Forty-five minutes later, some of the marchers entered the campus of Laney College, city officials said. That was when police first fired tear gas, a witness said. At 2:50 p.m., marchers began tearing down perimeter fences around the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, city officials said. Police declared an unlawful assembly and fired more tear gas. Witnesses said police fired rubber bullets after protesters began hurling items at them.

That error (the weekly marches happen at night) is so pointless, and yet also such a rookie mistake that it gives the game away. To make that mistake, you have to know almost nothing about what’s going on in Oakland. And the repetition of the same numbers and times should start to feel like what it is, an activity utterly empty of anything like professional journalism. The fact that all of these “journalists” repeat the same ridiculous crowd number, march times, etc isn’t just an indication of their tendency to downplay activist mobilization; its an index of their basic and fundamental worthlessness as news sources. They’re just copying and pasting. Or take the line “some of the marchers entered the campus of Laney College,” another phrase lifted directly from the OPD press release: almost all of the marchers got to the Kaiser center by marching through Laney. It’s not important, but there’s no “some” about it; virtually all of us got to the Kaiser center by marching through Laney and anyone who was there would know this. It isn’t just that there are errors, or that these errors are small and pointless; it’s that the level of non-knowledge required to produce these texts is huge: these articles are what they are as a function of the total distance and disconnect from what actually happened and a total dependence on being told what happened by the Police press officer (and an inability to do anything more than write that down, and slightly change the word order to cover their tracks).

This is a small post; I will write more later. For now, this: I don’t know everything that happened yesterday; I know what I saw and what I didn’t see. But if you only read the NY Times, CNN, and the Oakland Tribune, you won’t even have the benefit of knowing what they don’t know. Which is a whole hell of a lot.