Open Questions for the Former Occupiers of the Former Traveler’s Aid Society

Categories: Open Mic, Reflections

I appreciate your willingness to speak.  Dialogue is one thing that distinguishes civil disobedience & direct action from crime & thuggery.

At the moment, I do not think your actions were an Occupation.

I think what you did was an Exploitation.

I am telling you what I think, & the questions I have, in hopes of changing your mind, or learning from your answers.

While you were moving in library books (but not food, water, toilets, or any other essentials for an actual Occupation?), the tens of thousands of people who planned, marched, & made that remarkable day of resistance happen were resting tired muscles, joining in pride & celebration, & hoping that no overnight vandalism or violence would create a distraction from the people’s success.

While you were taking your “important next step” in your “perfect” building, I was walking the line of police around the corner, looking them in the eyes & reminding them that we’re all people behind our uniforms, whether it’s black jeans & bandanas or blue body armor & helmets.  I was asking them to remember that we are all the 99%.

Your explain how your “important next step” in your “perfect” building fits into your theory of anti-capitalism, but nothing about the goal of OWS & OO to expose the danger of the 1% & build the power of the 99%.

You claim the fires were lit & the windows broken after the police arrived.  That’s just false.  The bonfire was lit at 16th.  Spray painting & window smashing were already going on.

I believe you are either dangerously naïve, or dangerously arrogant.  I am open to being proven wrong about this.

If you can answer these questions, you will go a long way towards showing that I’m the one who’s being naïve or arrogant.

  1. If this step was so important, why wasn’t it done with better planning?
  2. How is a building “perfect” when it can’t be held even for a day?
  3. Why did you move in books, before food, water, temporary toilets?
  4. How is a building “perfect” that’s on a hard to reach side street, with no escape routes?
  5. How is a building “perfect” when it’s so close to Oscar Grant Plaza that many in the Occupy camp feared they would be caught up in the police response?
  6. If this step was so “important,” why take it on a night when police departments from all around the region were already on call?
  7. If this step was so “important,” why take it when so many potential participants &/or supporters were off to rest & celebrate & weren’t paying attention?
  8. If this step was so “important” & this building so “perfect,” why waste the advantage of surprise on a night when you were so unready; when the police opposition was so much on alert; when the much larger community of protest was done for the day?
  9. Why were you surprised by the police response when it was so similar to their actions on the morning of 10/25, & so similar to their actions at the end of the Oscar Grant protests?
  10. Are you sincerely confused by the difference between how the police responded to the openly planned, highly organized march on the port involving more than 10,000 peaceful protesters, and how the police responded to the surprise invasion of a building, which if it was planned at all was done in secret?
  11. Have you bothered to read the police & mayor’s accounts, which make clear that they worked closely together to avoid the police response escalating into a shut down of the encampment?
  12. How do you think other Occupations will be “encouraged” by what actually happened?
  13. Have you prepared any announcements, info sheets, any way of getting your word out to the community, the media, the other Occupations?
  14. Did you have any real plan for a long term Occupation of the building?
  15. Did you organize your action through the General Assembly process?
  16. Will you be getting word out in any way about what you want OO, the larger community, other Occupations, the 99%, to learn from your actions?
  17. What difference do you see between a poorly planned invasion for a handful of hours that leaves behind only photographs, arrests, & distrust… & an intentional hijacking by movement infiltrators?

I am sincerely ready to take answers to these questions.  Unanswered, I believe all you gained was a photo opportunity.  I believe you encouraged distrust and fear between protesters.  I believe you gave evidence to those who oppose our movement.  I believe you exploited the actions of the community.  I believe you exploited the power of the General Assembly.

I believe your actions show more thought & intelligence than the window smashing & spray painting vandalism.

I believe your actions show more Anarchist spirit than the thugs gathered around the fire who threatened violence against anyone who tried to put it out.

& until you educate me otherwise, I believe you exploited the community, & should seek ways to atone & hold yourselves accountable.


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