Author Archives: johnseal

Paranoia Strikes Deep

What a field-day for the heat A thousand people in the street Singing songs and carrying signs Mostly say, hooray for our side Paranoia strikes deep Into your life it will creep It starts when you’re always afraid You step out of line, the man come and take you away I’ve been thinking for some time that Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth should be the official Occupy Oakland anthem. Despite being written by the appalling Stephen ‘Love the One You’re With’ Stills, it remains the most evocative song of … Continued


Outside Agitators

  Every time there’s a protest in Oakland, there’s a whole lot of blather in the corporate press about those evil and mysterious ‘outside agitators’ who come to cause trouble and use our city as their ‘playground’. The storyline was alive and well during the Oscar Grant demonstrations of 2009 (otherwise known as The Defenestration of Foot Locker) and is once again lurking openly within mainstream reporting about Occupy Oakland actions. After J28, we were solemnly informed that ‘only’ 35% of those arrested were Oakland residents. Setting aside the fact … Continued


Why I have never attended an Occupy Oakland GA

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been a community ally of Occupy Oakland since October 25th. I’ve attended events and marches, spoken in favour of OO at two City Council meetings, donated to OO and the Bail Fund, and–despite my displeasure regarding ‘Diversity of Tactics’–advocated for OO to anyone who’ll listen. But I have never attended an Occupy Oakland GA in person (though I’ve watched a ton via Livestream). Here are ten reasons why, in no particular order. 1. I’ve never been a member of any political organisation. I’m … Continued


Keep Calm and Occupy

In 1939, the British government designed the poster on the right. As Wikipedia explains, the poster was “intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion.” The ‘keep calm’ theme has since taken on a life of its own: from ‘keep calm and Cary Grant’ to ‘now panic and freak out’, the clean lines, simple design, and telephone box red of the original poster has been a source of apparently endless inspiration for artists, tricksters, and political activists. Of course, my favourite variation is ‘keep … Continued


What I hope Occupy Oakland can avoid

Foreword: I do not know who took the picture at the end of this essay. I chose it because I think it illustrates a critical point, and it’s also an amazing photo. If the photographer wants me to remove it or if they would like to me to include attribution, please submit a comment to that effect. Update 2/12/12: Though I’m not 100% sure the picture was taken by Ezra Silk, it appears to have first been posted here. I’m attempting to contact Silk and will post updates accordingly. Update … Continued


Lessons of J28

I’m not sure the world needs another analysis of Occupy Oakland Move-In Day, but that’s what you’re gonna get anyway. I’ve spent too much time obsessing about it for the past few days to let all that cogitation go to waste. So here goes. 1. The target. There’s general agreement that Occupy Oakland aimed a wee bit high with the selection of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center as the movement’s new home. It’s tempting to think that OO knew all along that occupation would be an impossible task, but … Continued


My special moment with Jean Quan

I have a lot more to say about the incredible and horrifying things that happened in Oakland today, but while I digest the experience, I’ll just share a brief anecdote. Around 3:30 PM, my son and I left the Move-In march as the first tear-gas canisters erupted. We decided to walk up 12th Street to catch the bus at Broadway. As we were walking towards Franklin Street, my son said ‘look, there’s Mayor Quan.’ Mayor Jean Quan was leaving some sort of event in Chinatown. She was completely unaware of … Continued


Good thoughts for J28

It goes without saying that tomorrow will be a big day. Move-In Day promises to be the most significant Occupy Oakland action since the 12/12 port shutdown. If I were a believer, I’d be praying that OPD take the day off, let the 1:00 PM march go forward, and let the building occupation proceed peacefully. As I’m not, however, I’m instead going to hope that someone in a position of authority realizes that the building occupation presents the City of Oakland with a golden opportunity to finally get OO away … Continued


Some random but serious questions and comments about black bloc, DOT, and FTP

I’ll begin by stating clearly: this column should not be construed as anti-Occupy or even anti-anarchist. I’m not sure if I’m in favour of diversity of tactics, but I’m definitely in favour of diversity of thought. Please consider these serious if somewhat barbed questions from an enthusiastic Occupy supporter who considers himself a tentative but cautious ally of those of a more Bakuninan persuasion. 1. We are repeatedly told that black bloc is not a group, that it’s a tactic. I accepted the company line about this for several months, … Continued


Time to put the weekly FTP march to bed

With all due respect to the men and women of TAC, victory should have been declared after the end of last week’s successful FTP march. A few weeks ago TAC was predicting a thousand or more participants; this week, the march drew 50-100 (Jasper Gregory’s best estimate was 70). It’s probably not going to get any smaller than that in the weeks ahead, and I support your right to march whenever and wherever you like, but the point has been made and it’s little more than kabuki theatre at this … Continued