This is part of an email I received from a friend:
My wife and I were there all day and following behind at the end when the police were being really hard-core and kettling the final group. The tension was very high. I saw police surround the entire group and gas/grenade them when they had no place to go. They broke down a fence and escaped. I wanted to throw rocks at the cops at that point. There was a lot of trash talk going back and forth between cops and protesters. Then the police forced everybody up against the YMCA and some tried to escape through there. Everybody who hadn’t been arrested reconvened outside the police perimeter and had an informal GA where they decided to go back to Oscar Grant plaza. People were pissed off. When we got to the plaza a small group went up to city hall and found that the door was open (was that on purpose I wonder?). I know that’s true because I talked with several people who were involved later. It was very dark and I couldn’t really see what happened inside (100 feet away). One guy brought out the flag and burned it. I wouldn’t have done that, but I wasn’t exactly ready to pledge allegiance either after all the government mistreatment that day.
I’m not worried so much about how the general public perceives Occupy. I think there will be small groups in Occupy that act out of anger, but it’s impossible to control them. So authorities will attempt to manipulate the images the way they want. The spirit in Oakland is hella militant. These kids have been routinely brutalized by the OPD. So they are not going to respond in “nice” ways. Oakland is what the rest of America is going to look like in 5-10 years. I’ve lived in West Oakland and the city government is shit when it comes to helping the citizens. I teach graduates of Oakland’s high schools who tell me unbelievable stories of oppression by teachers, administrators, police. They are saying “fuck you” and they don’t have a problem with property destruction. Some of them personally knew Oscar Grant.
I don’t think we’re going to get a majority of Americans onboard with Occupy. I think our job is to push the envelope. One remarkable thing on Saturday was that people leaned out of their windows and citizens began following the march. They were all yelling “fuck the police.” By pushing the envelope this hard and refusing to back down, the young people are forcing everyone to take a position. I don’t know if you’ve read the Egyptian Occupy’s letter to Occupy Oakland but it specifically states that non violence should not be a hard and fast rule and that their victory depended on their sometimes violent response to police violence. My big personal take-away is that the authorities will not repress their way out of this. I felt that really strongly when I got home that night. The video of the kids with shields advancing on the police line says it all. Percussion grenades are falling all around them and they just stand there and then advance more.
I would show people videos from Occupy sites that show how police started all the shooting. I’m still really angry. This kind of thing is going to happen more and more. The next port shut down is going to be bloody. Eventually a protester is going to be killed. And then we move on to the next level. This is going to go on for years.