(UPDATE: The injured protester in the above video was a veteran who now has a skull fracture)
The shocking police crackdown at Occupy Oakland, which featured flash grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas, and as you can see above, targeted firing of “non-lethal” weapons directly at protesters, has started to cause a response from California’s progressive community. This was a peaceful march that police forcefully dispersed, a day after they disassembled the Occupy Oakland encampment and arrested protesters. The Oakland actions are among the most repressive in the country against the Occupy movement.
The Alameda Labor Council, the local labor federation in Oakland, has already denounced the actions, singling out for criticism Mayor Jean Quan (who wasn’t even in Oakland yesterday) and the City Council. Now, the Courage Campaign, a 700,000-member activist organization in California, has gone out with a petition demanding that Quan investigate the police brutality documented in images and videos from last night.
In a statement, Rick Jacobs, the chair and founder of Courage Campaign, said, “Last night, the entire world watched as Oakland police officers blasted peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. On behalf of Courage Campaign members in Oakland, the state of California and beyond, we call on Mayor Jean Quan, members of the City Council and other city and state officials to condemn this police violence and launch a full investigation of what happened yesterday. The Courage Campaign supports the goals of the national Occupy Wall Street movement, the right to free speech and the right to peacefully assemble. We do not live under tyranny. American citizens deserve to have their voices heard without fear of retaliation by police.”
I’ll put their email statement to supporters on the flip. The petition is here. I’m told this will not be the last petition targeting Mayor Quan and the leadership in Oakland over this incident.
Interestingly, Jean Quan was already facing a recall drive because of her “willfully ignoring the city’s most pressing issue: public safety.” I can’t say whether the brutality of Occupy Oakland protesters was something of a response to this. But I would guess the recall threat will grow for her in the coming days.
But Quan is part of a pattern of big-city mayors using their police forces to break up peaceful protests. Oakland may be an egregious example, but they’re not alone. We’ve seen it in Denver and Chicago and last night in Atlanta while everyone was paying attention to Oakland. And we may see it soon in LA. There was an attempt already in New York, and if the drummers didn’t stand down that encampment would probably have been dismantled.
All in all, over 2,500 peaceful protesters have been arrested throughout the country during Occupy protests. Oakland is a symptom of the use of law enforcement to squash dissent.
The full email from the Courage Campaign is on the flip.
Last night police in Oakland blasted Occupy Oakland with tear gas and rubber bullets. If you watch video of the event, you can see that this was a diverse group, filled with people of all ages and walks of life. All they were doing was exercising their right to free speech and peaceful assembly.
The violence only began when the police used inadequate audio equipment to warn protesters (who couldn’t actually hear them) that they were about to be attacked. Once the violence started, police assaulted people in wheelchairs and protesters trying to aid the injured.
Mayor Jean Quan, members of the City Council, State Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, State Senator Loni Hancock, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee cannot sit by and condone this travesty of justice. Citizens deserve to have their voices heard peacefully without being attacked by police.