Last night’s “fuck the police” march in the streets of Oakland ran its predictable course. I was out of town, but wouldn’t have gone anyway. Instead, I watched @OakFoSho’s livestream while sorting a couple boxes of receipts in preparation for this year’s taxes. It was a good way to double-task and feel like I was at least accomplishing something while watching Occupy Oakland accomplish nothing. At least nothing I could see. (Scroll through the videos on that link to the 1/7/12 FTP march videos, where you can watch the whole thing.)
The crowd gathered, marched to the jail, set a toy fire in the street, threw a few rocks and bottles, screamed at the cops a lot, made embarrassingly empty threats, got herded around a bit, ran when the cops advanced and eventually ended up at the Plaza.
The cops, dutifully playing their part in this silly script, chased people around a bit when they could have ignored them, beat a few people for no apparent reason, arrested six others, declared an unlawful assembly and eventually let people go back to the plaza without further incident.
The whole thing was so predictable. Everyone played their parts to the letter. Bravo.
So, is Occupy Oakland stronger now with six more people arrested and more hurt? Does anyone think this will make the cops quit busting people in the Plaza on made-up charges? Does anyone think this will bring thousands of people into the streets for the next big action? Will Occupy Oakland see a surge of public support?
There are important issues that Occupy could be rallying people around. Instead, we’re allowing the police to become the enemy, defining the issues we protest over. When we dream bigger dreams, they become only an obstacle to avoid and work around in pursuit of something grander. Six arrests and the energy of 100+ people for a night could have gone to much more effective use.
What is the endgame? Do the FTP marchers think that they’ll get the OPD to supplicate before them and plead for an end to the marches? Do they think they’re going to beat OPD in a sticks-and-helmets street fight? Dire threats were issued to the OPD last night by people who then ran for their lives when the cops charged.
If there is a strategy, I’d love to hear it.
This can only end badly. What will the score be next time?