Friday, November 18, 2011
Curtains, an interlude
"The show is over. The audience get up to leave their seats. Time to collect their coats and go home. They turn round...No more coats and no more home."
I went downtown after the small encampment was first raided. Rows of riot cops, enlisted by mutual aid, stood at the intersection between 14th and broadway. A legion of leftists stood by ready to give a phyricc battle to the pigs for the injustice done to their scraps of plastic, cardboard signs, and assorted trinkets that made their encampment a threat to Mayor Quan and the police force. A plastic bottle or some other debris was thrown. The cops threw back grenades of tear gas, and launched rubbet belts at the protesters in the game of catch. The protesters scuttled away, coughing and hacking, lamenting the injustices of the equipped phalanax. A few went home the rest recovened until more debris was thrown and the police responded in kind.
The anti capitalist march was led by two large banners and the forefront participants were clad in black. A few wore motorcycle helmets, but most were clad in jeans, black hoodies, and sneakers. One of the garbed members wore finger shoes. We left the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph and began a march through the business district of Oakland. The black bloc smashed windows and spray painted anarchy signs or simple slogans on building walls. We passed a large church. People booed. The march found its way to Whole Foods. One black bloc member ran ahead and spray painted "STRIKE" in large letters on the exterior of the building. A handful of leftists were enraged and demanded "No Violence! No Violence!" One member of the "peace police" tackled a black clad woman down to the ground. The march eventually returned to its origin and the black clad "vandals" dissippated into the crowd.
I got on my bike and began to ride down to the port. The sun was slowly setting on one of the nation's busiest ports. A mass of bicyclists rode to the port. We crossed a bridge by seventh street in west oakland. The residents of the neighborhood had probably never seen such a mass of people come into their territory. When I arrived there were several large trucks stopped. A group of people stood in front of them. One of the truckers began to pull on his horn for an agonizingly prolonged period of time. I sat down on the curb with a few friends. We watched hoards of marchers walk along.
The encampment had been removed again and a police presence was maintained at the Frank Ogawa plaza. The general assembly had called for a day of action. A couple thousand people showed up. I met up with some friends and we rode bart down to the march. The march was far more sedate than the anti-capitalist event of two weeks prior. A group of older folk were singing a protest song. I thought that they should probably save the singing for the shower, but I'm sure they loved the pat on the back. My friends and I hurried to the front of the march. There were no black clad members. When the march turned toward Lake Merritt we left the walkers and got some food. We came back when the march arrived at 19th and telegraph. A chain link fence surrounded a vacant lot, around the lot were new condos. The fence was taken down and the land "claimed" by the occuppation. A truck equipped with speakers played funk music. People danced in the street or stood around. It began to get colder and drizzle. I came home. It was wet and cold.
In the morning the encampment was cleared again by the police. Mayor Quan issued a statement saying the camps were putting a strain on Oakland's resources. She was quoted as saying:
"We will continue to be vigilant and ensure that public safety remains our first priority and that our downtown businesses are protected from vandalism. We will not tolerate lodging on public property whether in parks or open space; it is illegal."