Tagami’s Shotgun—Letter to the Oak Trib

Categories: Open Mic, Reflections

Letter to the Tribune:

Tagami’s  Shotgun

Oakland millionaire developer Phil Tagami’s action “racking” his shotgun at the
Rotunda exemplifies why the Occupy movement is necessary.  He personifies the capitalist system and its government valuing property over human life.  Tagami was apparently prepared to kill for a building which he obtained with $12 million in long-term loans provided by Oakland taxpayers.  He was an Oakland Port Commissioner when the police shot at anti-Iraq war protestors and longshoremen.  Oft described as a ‘friend of Oakland Adult Education’, Tagami didn’t offer a penny to save that program which was terminated in June, setting 25,000 students adrift.

While I strongly disagree with the Black Bloc’s tactics, there is no comparison
between breaking windows or spray-painting property and the violence practiced
by Quan’s police and threatened by Tagami.  Who gravely wounded war veterans Scott Olsen and Kayvan Sabeghi? —  the same Oakland police department which has
been under federal “control” for years because of the Riders’ lawlessness.  Chief Jordan’s vilifying the Black Bloc is obviously calculated to remove attention from the qualitatively greater violence committed by police.

M.L. King, Jr. said the U.S. government is “the greatest purveyor of violence in
the world today”.  It wages endless war abroad and class war at home, giving the banks $16 trillion while 14+ million are unemployed, families have their homes seized, health care is unaffordable and the education system is undermined.  As much of the Occupy movement looks to replace capitalism, so King came to consider democratic socialism as a necessary alternative.

Bob Mandel,
involuntarily retired Oakland ESL teacher


3 Responses to “Tagami’s Shotgun—Letter to the Oak Trib”

  1. think!

    We need to think strategically… what is the BEST position for this movement to create real change? The majority agrees that destructive acting out through violence and vandalism will destroy our own cause.

  2. David Heatherly

    I stand with you also mizpat; I am in a difficult position. I am trying to give a lot of support to Occupy Oakland, and of course to all my new and old friends who are involved. I am in my mid 30s, I have lived in Oakland for 13 years, I’ve been a schoolteacher here and a substitute teacher (I keep thinking some of the people I’m marching with are those I taught back in the late 90s at Calvin Simmons and at Elmhurst Middle Schools). And that’s also why I’ve signed onto this website with my full real name, because I am not anonymous and I am a member of the community and I hold myself accountable for all my words and actions.

    Which, the point of saying all that is not to puff myself up or whatever, but just to explain that to me the reason why the intention of Occupy Oakland in regards to violence and vandalism needs to be clear so that people such as myself can get out of it. The march on 10/22 was very peaceful and the crowd had a kind of rapport with the cops that I’ve never seen at an Oakland march. We had almost a thousand people there. We were able to shut down a Citibank branch and a Wells Fargo branch with only 2 cops becoming involved. Literally, 2 cops, I saw the whole thing. And so to me, the point of the police attack in the morning of 10/25 was designed to draw a response from the violent elements in the SF protest “scene.”

    So I’m not surprised or disappointed in any of the violence that these people have caused. The thing that surprises and disappoints me is our inability to get this in front of the Oakland GA and to condemn all violence and vandalism. Because in light of the fact that they have been now connected with Occupy Oakland, to remain silent is to condone. And that will, as “mizpat” said, drive all of us people in the community who are supporting the movement despite the damage to our community away and marginalize Occupy Oakland and perhaps Occupy Wall Street as a whole. The whole world is watching — Oakland General Assembly, why did I sit in the cold for an hour and a half tonight and only hear about non-violence from one subcommittee, the Jewish group? We have to know who we are marching with before we have another march.

  3. mizpat

    Mr. Mandel, I agree with all of your points except one. MLK Jr. made that and many other truth-to-power statements and STILL advocated ONLY passive resistance (civil disobedience), which is the hardest path to take, precisely because the powers that be make us so angry – and his activists got their heads beat and more almost every time they took action. We cannot let anger dictate our response. Follow MLK Jr.s actions as well as his words. He was not advocating a violent or even a destructive response. I am not equating police tactics with breaking windows, and I don’t think anyone else is either, so that argument does not hold. Once again I say, the quickest way to tank this movement is to allow a small minority to co-opt it, because you will never again have the huge turnout you had on Wednesday. You will lose all outside support.

    I would also like to point out the mixed messages the OO GA has put out this week. On Thursday the press reported that the OO disavowed (or similar, can’t remember the exact term) black bloc’s destruction (without naming black bloc, as I recall). Yesterday, OO posted a bunch of videos under the headline “We’re Winning!” including one of the black bloc breaking all the BofA windows, which gives me the impression that OO not only allows but endorses such actions. (Not to mention the absurdity of the headline – do you really think the 1% is going to roll over? And as someone else wrote, it’s not about winning and losing.)

    OO needs to get clear on where it stands on the black bloc tactics issue, and then it needs to make that position public, including posting any/all GA decisions stating its position, and then it needs to maintain that position consistently unless/until it publicly changes that position.

    Once OO GA does that, then I and the rest of the outside supporters can decide if we want to continue our support.

    I’m sorry you lost your job, Mr. Mandel, especially from budget cuts, but I”m glad you had the option of some sort of retirement. I lost my job in December, and I will probably never get another full-time job with benefits in the rest of my working life (I am probably your age). I have no retirement except Social Security, so you know I have no security at all and will have to work until I drop.

    As angry as I am at all of this, I have made a commitment to nonviolent resistance BECAUSE I thought the Occupy movement did too.

    I await OO’s public, consistent decision.