When I first came out to an Occupy Oakland event it was the November 2nd General Strike. I mean, as a Oakland resident, how could I not join and go check out this historical event? So I went and spent over 9 hours hanging out and chilling with some friends of mine. I had promised to go watch my little cousin later in the evening so I went home. 15 minutes later, I'm home and watching OakFoSho's Ustream and I see the Oakland Police Department teargassing, shooting rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. There were librarians and teachers, students and Grandmothers. There were disabled individuals and CHILDREN in the crowd. I was appalled at the response of the PUBLIC SERVANTS and how they violently subjected protesters to this type of oppression.
Now I know that some people don't agree with the tactics of "Occupy" but people need to realize that they are a part of Occupy without doing anything. Your bank account and your financial position within current society dictates if you are an Occupier or not. Basically if you can't survive for a while without going to work. If you have to cut back and can't afford to purchase a lobbyist or have a political candidate do exactly what you want them to do based on persuasion through massive donations, then you are a 99%er, you are Occupy. Unfortunately too many people don't understand this fact and so there is a lot of criticism which makes the job of the mainstream media easy because of the misrepresentation that is easily accepted. We as a society have to stop being so well adjusted to the blatant injustice in our societies.
Anyway... about the Occupy Oakland Tactical action committee.. these are some individuals, some who have been singled out, who are in my opinion more the active face of the Occupy Oakland movement. Don't get me wrong, the general assembly is definitely the most "political" aspect of Occupy as an organized movement as a whole. However, there is a lot of bickering and decision making that happens at GA that most people aren't willing to put their bodies on the line and enforce the things that they have decided. Not to mention that most nights it is hard to meet quorum. I will admit that there are several times that I have been at the GA but been participating in other discussions with some people who are more willing to actually engage in action. The problem is that there is not a merging of the two. People who are holding down space at a foreclosed home or at an encampment can't exactly get a laptop to email in a proposal, or wait every night to see when their proposal will come up in the queue. It's not exactly the most efficient process. So the thing that most don't understand is that all that happens is that someone has an idea, and if the community supports it then they come out. It's unfortunate that the people who keep coming out in significant numbers are being ignored. Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee (TAC) is one that fits into this unfortunate position but still pushes on.
The Tactical Action Committee is one that continuously keeps up with their ideas and decides to stick with them regardless of the opposition in the way. I for one respect their resilience and their ability to stay strong and vigilant in the face of state oppression. Prior to covering the story of this committee of Occupy Oakland, I have seen the ugly face of oppression to the point that I now experience the oppression that I have discussed in theory and by affiliation but never really first hand until now. On Wednesday Jan 4, 2012 there was a General Assembly and a friend of mine as well as some members of TAC and some other Occupiers were having a conversation about the class structure of America and how it was organically created during the colonization period and brainstorming on ways that the economy and government could be better. In the middle of this conversation we were rushed by 17 police cruisers and more officers in riot gear than I could count. Now the immediate response was to run but we had no clue where to go as we were in a public park and had no idea where was safe and where wasn't. I probably should have wen't home, but I was curious because I had kept hearing about the violence and so now I had an opportunity to really see for myself. My friend Nneka decided to stay and help me film what was happening. When we went back filming, we were aggressively escorted to the curb by officers being told that we needed to go over here or else they would arrest me. Nneka listened and stayed on the corner of 14th & Broadway while I walked to the bart station entrance to try and get a better view of what was happening. Just then, Nneka was arrested for obstruction of justice. For standing in the same spot some officers had just escorted her to. Later she was charged with maliciously obstructing a walkway. What kind of crap is that? How is that even possible?
TAC decided that they wanted to have a march in theory for the police response. It's obviously been systematic, they have been targeted because they serve as a motivational force and the people most willing to stand up in protest for what they believe in. That is a very bold powerful statement to the people who have been protesting and believe in the message against capitalism and state oppression. It would benefit the police who are now protecting others outside the community and making money off of the community to silence the voices that will not back down to the school yard intimidation tactics of throwing water on people from the upstairs of the police building to beating women off of their bikes while riding by holding up a peace sign. People have a right to protest without being subjected to oppression by the police especially in public places. TAC makes you ask some interesting questions while looking at their work. Like why is it that as an adult I have a curfew in a city park? Why can't I carry on this conversation or stay and finish playing chess or meditating or whatever? Why is it that the city can't find the money to keep the schools open (never mind the quality of them) but it can find $450,000 or more to focus on silencing the voices in the community that want to feed the homeless and rectify the things gone wrong in our society?
I'm not saying that there are not other side groups that are trying to go out into the community and do outreach work with an Occupy focus, but TAC is the committee that I believe is continuing the against the system, stand up for your rights, power to the people, fight oppression non conformist spirit that Occupy is built on. It's unfortunate, but only makes sense that a motivational group such as this is targeted by the very oppressive force that they are fighting against. That's why the criticism of the Fuck the Police day marches need to stop being criticized. I do think if you're willing to throw a bottle at the police, you should be willing to accept the consequences. However, I understand that is part of the tactic to hide in the crowd, and that people who believe in the cause will still back up those who are mad enough to damage some property or harmlessly throw a glow stick at the Kevlar of a "peace" officers riot gear. Whatever the case is, the over militant excessive force that is being used in the targeting of a group who just wants to help the community is once again absurd.
There is not much to say about this group that people don't already know. The thing that I like to focus on is that they are not perfect much like all of us. The difference is that they are constantly willing to push forward, always willing to make a plan and enforce it to help the community members that have been disenfranchised for far too long. At that point how can you really judge their actions if you have not inserted your opinion and offered your help? Much of the frustration that is now seen is from a lot of criticism from those who benefit from the struggle, but don't want to participate and constantly criticize those who sustain the movement.