Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Day in Oakland--Protest and Repression

New Oakland Police Tank
Bloodlust on the part of the O.P.D. began just after noon in downtown Oakland when the boys and babes in blue trotted out their latest toy, a tank-like armored police vehicle. This early afternoon show of irrational force included flash-bang grenades, tear-gas and warnings to get off the streets and into the Plaza and served mainly to infuriate all present who care about freedom of speech and assembly.

The group proceeded to City Hall under this armed escort battalion. The central theater of protest then moved to the Fruitvale neighborhood where thousands of people were lining up for the 3pm March for Dignity and Resistance. The group was animated, diverse and dedicated. The march was long and full of music and drumming. We stopped for a rally in San Antonio Park before proceeding into downtown Oakland at about 6pm. Police behaved themselves perhaps due to crowd size and multiple witnesses from porches and windows.

Black Block protesters were present as well with their flags and shields and masks. The only vandalism I witnessed was when one member threw a rock at a Fox News van. If I'd been younger, I'd probably have done the same. The TV news, of course, was loaded down with the evening skirmishes between police and marchers. We had already left by the time the night heated up.

Demonstrations like these, while gratifying, can no longer be the focus of the 99% Movement. Now, we have to get serious and do the hard work of organizing and mobilizing behind the scenes if we are ever going to see real change in this country. They can roll over us physically but they can't stop our resistance. To quote Emile Zola, "The truth is on the march and nothing shall stop it."