Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Occupy Portland the protest that keeps coming back



I have now become quite intrigued and absorbed with the occupy movement in America, on Sunday as I mentioned in a previous post, captivated to the developments as they accrued on the live feed provided from Occupy Portland as several hundred protesters tried to passively to resist and repel the brute force of the police, and yesterday it was the turn of Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

One notable development and occurrence in these modern day struggles of the international working class at home and aboard is the inclusion and part being played by social media and the rise of the citizen journalist. I was absolutely fascinated by the quality of both the commentary and clear images being streamed live from Occupy Oakland and subsequently stayed with it most of the day; the revolution is amazingly well prepared and very much hi-tech, even St Paul’s has its own media tent that’s playing an important part in the struggle.

Anyhow, at about 5 am their time, up to 1,000 police officers fully clad in heavy riot gear descended on the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza and proved definitively that the hyper-militarised crowd control tactics that brought so much national and indeed now international attention to the city in recent weeks was an unnecessary uses of excessive force.

They the police looking like something out of a science-fiction film, moved swiftly and shut down a wide perimeter around the plaza and then moved up, block by block, in heavy lines, until the mass of protesters were pushed into an intersection nearby. Then, a large formation of riot police moved into the plaza itself, where they arrested 32 people who had chosen to remain in the camp in an act of civil disobedience ('bravo'  'bravo'), there was one fella going by the name of ‘Running Wolf’ who was left up a tree, in some sort of tree-house and don’t know if he was eventually arrested, I suspect he was.

There was also an interfaith tent and group who have since been reported as having been arrested whilst they being huddled together in a circle in silent prayer, prayed and then detained it appears.

Police were tearing down tents and clearing the plaza. There were no reports of injuries, which makes a change from the prior and previous (October 25th and the night of November 2nd) assaults on the camp and the protesters.

While US police crowd control techniques are not or rarely pretty, people facing off with riot police as part of various occupations around the country probably don't really have a good sense of the force used during the first eviction of Occupy Oakland due to a media selected blackout. In all the tally of injuries for October 25 and November 2 was three broken hands, two head injuries (one of which, to Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, was quite severe), a ruptured spleen and minor injuries too numerous to list.

What these evictions had in common with the one two weeks before is that the end-game is just as unclear. Protesters again promise to reclaim the plaza as soon as police leave. The Oakland City Council has reportedly entertained a proposal to hire private security guards to keep the plaza clear, but this is a cash-strapped city and one has to believe that the Occupiers' resolve will outlast the city's private security budget. 

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