Below is an email that was forwarded to me earlier today. I am publishing it because I think it gives some great insight into who the "Occupiers" are and what they have in store for our City. What is remarkable is that the author (a well-known supporter of Mayor Quan's and housing advocate) considers "doable" options to include "taking over City Hall" and "displace the City Council," as well as "make the City pay for meals and housing" (presumably for the "Occupiers" during the rainy season).
Keep in mind that these are the people that many Oakland officials want to openly support. Yes, that's right. Our elected leaders want to welcome the Occupiers who are seeking to violently overthrow them. Is that not totally surreal? In addition, it appears that the anarchists and pro-violence/vandalism crowd are thoroughly entrenched in OO. I think it is unfair to characterize them as a "splinter group," since they are clearly a large faction, and among the group's leaders. Recent news reports have clearly identified members of the various organizing committees as among those who committed vandalism during the General Strike.
Here we are, on November 6, 2011, and still, the City has absolutely no plan on how to deal with any of this. Meanwhile, the OO camp is growing larger and more organized by the day.
James Vann describes this "takeover" by the Black Bloc-
Sent: Sat, November 5, 2011 5:22:12 PM
Subject: Developing Dilemma within Occupy Oakland
Developing Dilemma within Occupy Oakland
At the general assembly of Occupy Oakland last night, a task presented from the earlier facilitators' meeting was open discussion by the assembly -- arranged in small groupings -- on the question: "How to Grow Occupy Oakland into a Long-Term Sustainable Movement."
I was asked by a contingent sitting to my right to join with their group. I was soon aware that most of the people who constituted our small group were an interrelated faction. One early idea of one of the members was to take OO to the "next level" by "taking over vacant buildings." I injected my disagreement with the idea, that the remarkable success of the entirety of Wednesday's general strike day had already become subsumed in the media by the post-event "violence" of a small dissident contingent in breaking into a nearby vacant building. (An act that led to the day's first police appearance, a massive police descent in riot gear -- replicating the defamed Oct 26 assault -- complete with tear gas, flash-bang grenades, and bean bag projectiles. A three-hour riot through surrounding blocks ensued, with dissidents setting fires, breaking store windows, and widespread spray-painting of graffiti, ending in some 100 arrests and the serious wounding of yet another recently returned Iraq War veteran on the scene as an innocent bystander.)
Others of the small group chimed in, stressing the need for OO to set an example that other #Occupy organizations could duplicate by appropriating indoor space for continuation of movement activities through the oncoming rains and snows of Winter.
I suggested, in place of 'strike-day-like' events -- which can only be infrequently carried out -- that OO implement a series of neighborhood assemblies and marches in various neighborhood business districts throughout the city. This would have the effect of educating and recruiting new adherents to the movement from throughout the city. A recent transplant from a southern city told of the dispersed nature of that city, not suited to a centralized general assembly, but rather regional assemblies, and suggested that OO look into a regional-type structure.
During the report-back session, few small groups made what I considered positive or doable suggestions ("take over city hall;" "make city pay for meals and housing;" "displace the city council," etc). However, in what appeared an orchestrated tactic, each time a small group recommended "taking over vacant buildings," it drew the loudest applause. When there was any mention of "non-violent" actions, the dissident members, and their compatriots dispersed throughout, yelled out almost in unison, "diversity of tactics, diversity of tactics." It is clear that the dissident anarchist group of some 150 or so is deeply embedded within Occupy Oakland. (The morning's news shows gave the police breakdown of Wednesday's arrestees as about 25% from out-of-state, the majority from other cities and communities, and about 10 percent as Oakland residents.)
On returning home, I read an unidentified quarter-sized blurb that had been handed out during GA. The neatly printed blurb rationalized Wednesday night's illegal takeover as the "logical next step for the movement," separated the question of "violence against property" (tactical) vs "violence against persons (harmful), and proclaimed that "property violence" occurred only after the cops arrived to dispel them from the appropriated building. The blurb concluded with: "The point here is obvious: if the police don't want violence, they should stay the hell[sic] away."
Meanwhile, Oakland's embattled Mayor forcefully stated at Thursday night's special speak-back session of the city council that "immediate control of its violent members" is a primary condition for the Occupy Oakland encampment to remain in Frank Ogawa Plaza (nee Oscar Grant Plaza).
Clearly, the present situation poses an extremely serious problem for Occupy Oakland. Moreover, a wide disconnect exists between #Occupy goals and anarchists' ideals. The anarchists see #Occupy as a "resistance movement" requiring a vanguard to wage war against oppressive forces (the police). Alternately, #Occupy's basic objective is to expose the greed and attendant policies of Wall Street investors, bankers, and mega-corporations that extract more and more the wealth of the country, while the 99% and the needs of the many increasingly suffer with less and less -- and to cause policy and program changes to restore equitable wealth and resource distribution.
During "General Strike Day" actions, non-violent OO members who attempted to halt acts, being perpetrated by the anarchist group, of property destruction had their own safety threatened with claw hammers. The dissident anarchist faction is deeply embedded throughout and has strongly expressed its integration and inclusion as a legitimate part of OO.
Given the open nature of OO; its consensus decision structure; and the lack of endorsed "leaders," it is unclear how OO will deal with an internal situation that is structurally committed to an agenda of "resistance," inherently contradictory to the aims of the #Occupy movement. Unaddressed, this dilemma threatens the existence of at least Occupy Oakland itself. Clearly, #Occupy, and specifically Occupy Oakland, is faced with a dilemma on incompatible paths that at present seems only likely to continue diverging.
James E Vann,