A train ride to Oakland on the scenic Amtrak Coast Starlight and a stay at a hotel at Jack London Square on the ocean, wasn’t quite the Holiday getaway I had in mind. An interview on Oakland CBS (which never produces all a person has said) promoted the  following submission to the Oakland Tribune. 

Just for a quick minute, let’s get Oakland residents to imagine that Ferguson, M0 never happened. And while we’re about the business of pretending the American system of right and wrong is considerably more just than it actually is, let’s not know anything about a 300-pound man, Eric Garner, who got tossed to the ground in NYC with a deadly chokehold.

With this done, we’re now on a playing field that takes us to a place good people seem to have forgotten ever existed.

This is a playing field with rules. And, as a time-honored tradition, rules are generally based upon a value system.  And somewhere in this mix is something called truth.

Now that we’ve got rules, values and truth set before us, who misnamed the Christmas Night vandalism at Jack London Square a protest?

A protest with windows broken out of Bev Mo would, in all manner of understanding, indicate the chain of stores, at best, had run afoul of treating their workers correctly and at worst had insulted some irrational customers.

A protest with windows broken out at a Subway sandwich store would, in all manner of understanding by the public, raise the question of tainted meat being used in the sandwiches and/or dangerous pesticides used on the lettuce that’s used on the bread and sold to the unsuspecting public.

The protest, according to news reports, was against police brutality and the killing by white policemen of unarmed Black men; Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in NYC.

The dozen or so thugs who broke windows and who pulled decorations from the towering Christmas Tree in the Square, were not protesting. They were committing crimes that both the Oakland Police and the good citizens of the city allowed them to get away with.

I brought my family to Oakland to celebrate Christmas. We arrived at the Waterfront Hotel many hours after the vandalism, but the following morning I gave witness to the bare spots on the tree and broken glass and boarded-up windows on nearby streets.

CBS news was on the spot developing their approach to the so-called protest.

“No, this wasn’t a protest,” I told the reporter, and I went on to say, “the message of police and community difficulties is one that must be addressed, but allowing miscreants to dilute importance of a need for change must be challenged by community members standing up for what’s right, the police arresting those who break the law and the media calling criminal behavior exactly what it is which means they need to stop categorizing thugs as protesters.”

CBS Interview

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Jean Troy

    I agree with you Shirley , the more I hear different commentators the more I wonder how things are being misinterpreted. Crime is crime no matter who commits it. The police were wrong by using force on two unarmed Men, the vandals were wrong for distroying personal property. why is this confusing? Justice is supposed to be blind but some how the media keeps putting slits in the blindfold.

    1. Sonia

      The fact that there are marginalized, angry, soeemimts misguided, ignorant people involved in these movements is not some kind of news flash. The lack of participation by other committed people because they are afraid of marginalized people, afraid of confronting bullies and thugs is an equally big problem. I am not suggesting it is easy to do but it is important. There is a lot of simplistic thinking on a very complex movement. I have very little patience for the jingoistic patriotism that puts the symbols of patriotism e.g. the flag above the concrete pillars of patriotism the freedom to assemble, the freedom to speak, the freedom to have grievances publicly put forward. It seems to me that the literally millions of people killed by our adventurous and imperialistic foreign policy are of greater significance than the disorganization of a new movement. The tidiness and cleanliness of the camp or the articulateness of its members seem to be of secondary importance and reflect a very narrow, provincial, parochial and class-bound point of view.

  2. shirlee smith

    Jean, as always, you have seen my point of view. While I can certainly support a protest, I most certainly do not and cannot support vandalism – which you have been quick to say even in my Pasadena Weekly article about the Pasadena Peaceful Protest.

    I don’t know if you clicked on the CBS news footage linked at the end of the blog to hear the TV reporter say, in his view, the protesters were supporting the actions of the vandals.

    Jean, what do you think happened to that old-time concept of social responsibility?

  3. Laura Monteros

    Shirlee, as always, thank you for your solid reasoning. I am sickened by the continued police brutality and unnecessary killing, but vandalism against those who have had no part in it does not serve any cause other than to create fear and resentment. There are often a few who will cause problems in an otherwise peaceful protest, but the tenor of the action is determined by the majority.

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    1. Azeem

      she supported us the day befroe sending in the * completely unprovoked* violent raids of cops without making any motion to negotiate. You are believing what the media is telling you and that is misinformation. There were lovely things happening down there as they are around the country in this protest. **People were completely peaceful**, what happens when you bring the violence the cops brought is that some select individuals act out in response, but it is NOTHING like what is being portrayed by the media. The masks, are for protection from tear gas or to make a free speech statement, rocks were not thrown!! Fucking Orange County is allowing their campers and helping them, as is New York. No conversation was opened and this behavior on the OPD is yet another example of travesty and misuse of power. You cannot blame peaceful protesters for the civil war that was declared on them while they slept at 530 in the morning and the following evening. Back up your opinions with facts, and truly investigate the videos. Your judgement is not helping.

    1. Artem

      You say some inflammatory thgnis: ignorance, too many agendas, disorganization, and loud-mouthed whiners and/or thugs… The fact that you find them distasteful or disagree with what they say or how they were saying it was cause to violently sweep them out of their camp? Are you the decider of who gets to express themselves? Do you think that curfew laws to keep partiers and drunks from being in public spaces should be used to force peaceful assemblies to state grievances about the government takeover by corporate interests? You go on to say: and The pics were well-taken but what do you expect a “cleanup” to look like. I don’t understand, do think that destroying their personal possessions was truly the right thing to do? Maybe you think that being arrested wasn’t sufficient punishment for having the audacity to exercise their 1st amendment rights. They need to be taught a lesson! Whatever.

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