A statement by the Occupy Oakland Media Commitee:
In recent weeks, as mainstream media has focused its attention on Occupy Oakland, our city’s tragic struggles have been on public display: Oakland’s high violent crime rate, systematized racism, ongoing police brutality, and dire economic poverty are impossible to ignore.
Yesterday, the Occupy Oakland encampment received a “Notice of violations and demand to cease violations” from the City. The mayor and city council are using Oakland’s deep-seated socio-economic troubles to justify ousting demonstrators from Oscar Grant Plaza. The people of Oakland understand that the Occupy movement exists to express its strong dissent against the institutionalized social and economic injustices at the root of our city’s troubles.
We are unsure what tactics to expect from the City in the coming days. Administrators and police officials have demonstrated striking unpredictability in recent weeks, often breaking their own rules: last Wednesday, in direct violation of the Brown Act, a majority of City Council members held an unauthorized meeting calling for the dismantling of the Occupy Oakland encampment. The Oakland Police Department has used brutal tactics that violate its own crowd control policies. In light of these events, police from neighboring cities have expressed concerns about maintaining mutual aid agreements with the OPD. All of this is to say nothing of the City’s blatant disregard for citizens’ First Amendment Rights.
A lack of transparency and underhanded dealings have taken their toll on community support for Mayor Quan. Attackers on both the left and the right have called for her resignation. Even within the City’s administration, it appears Quan stands in isolation, with key officials resigning and the OPD publicly denouncing the mayor for her ambiguous messages.
Small business owners intimately understand that a healthy economy is built on principles of economic justice, and that police brutality scares away clientele. For that reason, Occupy Oakland enjoys the strong support of many businesses. Everett and Jones BBQ, the Men’s Warehouse, Tullys, the Grand Lake Theater, and others closed their doors in support of the November 2 general strike. Many small businesses have donated food and supplies to the encampment. Leading entrepeneur Dorothy Everett, the SEIU, and the teacher’s unions assisted demonstrators in providing portapotties for the camp, and has urged City Council to uphold our rights to assemble at the plaza.
Last week’s general strike, in which thousands participated, demonstrated the Occupy movement has spread from Oscar Grant plaza to every corner of the city. However many resources City officials spend to violate residents’ First Amendment rights, Occupy Oakland has the strong support of the broader community. We will not disappear.
This movement is drawing sorely needed official attention to long-ignored problems in our community. According to the US Census Bureau, over 25% of East Bay residents (616,504 individuals) and 39% of Oaklanders lived in economic hardship in 2009. Oakland has one of the highest crime rates in the country. RealityTrac, an online company that tracks national foreclosure statistics, reported lastmonth that California posted the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Oakland is located in one of the California counties reporting the highest foreclosure rates.
At present, city administrators are contemplating throwing citizen tax dollars into another costly, potentially violent raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment. The community would be better served by using the city’s limited resources to address our ongoing, serious problems. Mayor Quan is attacking those who seek a solution to economic injustice rather than addressing the root causes.
We at Occupy Oakland invite the mayor to realign herself with the her constituency, the majority of whom supports the Occupy Wall Street movement, and to stand on the right side of justice: in solidarity with the 99 per cent, and in the name of repairing the deep inequities that keep us all in a state of constant oppression. We want a sane solution.