Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Oakland 2.0

So, along with Mayor Quan's seachange regarding the Occupy Oakland movement (she even officially announced tomorrow's historic General Strike), the mainstream press seems to be less focused on myths about rats and sexual assaults, and more on what is actually happening inside the camp.
It helps that a better camp has been built with input from City Hall and labor unions taken account, but I believe that Quan's reversal has everything to do with her realizing that WE the grassroots got her into office. The political machine, which tried its hardest to prevent her from getting elected, were the people who wanted the PEOPLE evicted from the public park in front of City Hall. She'll never appease those people (The Ignacio de la Fuentes and Larry Reids of the world), and it seems like she is taking less direction from them....for now.
Thankfully, the media has changed course with her, and they are beginning to wake up to the fact that, like the city itself, Occupy Oakland is one of a kind, and the best of the best.
A view is taking shape that while New York was the genesis of the movement, Oakland has become, as one Oakland resident tweeted, the "front line of the revolution."

From the beginning, in fact, the protesters in Oakland set their sights high. They organized and planned for a full week before setting up their camp in the plaza. Once there, they made a point of trying to serve the needs of residents they felt the city had largely neglected -- mostly the poor and homeless. But it was about more than that.

"This is a base camp for a lot of different struggles," said John Reimann, 65, a retired Oakland carpenter and longtime union organizer who helped call for the general strike this week. "We're trying to unite a lot of struggles that people see as separate."

Now, that sense of collective purpose is continuing to draw in people from many sectors of society.

"There's a radicalism in Oakland. The working people, they're not coming to protest and then going home to watch themselves on the news; that makes it special," said Harry Brass, 71, a self-described former radical from Berkeley. "If it stays like this, it could be the leader, Oakland could take over from New York."

Others said Oakland, with its high unemployment rate, violent crime problems, health care disparities and foreclosure scandals, was a convenient and appropriate symbol for what was happening elsewhere in the country, and the world.

"Every community has its own Oakland," said Marco Dondero, 61, a schoolteacher from San Mateo who had come to see Michael Moore on Friday. "The hurt and anger is all over the country. People are here for a reason. They are not going away."
-Inside Bay Area

It was refreshing to see so many "tourists" coming around this weekend to check out the camp. There was so much excitement and energy of the good kind, where people were trying to show off how great the camp is rather than trying to keep outsiders out. I ran in to a lot of people who were coming around for the first time, and they were all amazed at how organized and communal it is.
Don't take my word for it, come on down and see for yourself.