Occupy Oakland: Riot police use tear gas, other nonlethal weapons on protestors

Photo: Adreadnonymous. Protester in wheelchair at Oakland protest, tear-gassed.

[Video Link: Oakland police throwing tear gas bombs at protesters.]

From Oakland North blog:

Vowing to reoccupy Frank Ogawa Plaza, hundreds of Occupy Oakland protestors marched through the streets of downtown Oakland late Tuesday afternoon, chanting “Fight back!” as police followed and a helicopter buzzed overhead.

More: Oakland North. Here's a related post there, with photos from police/demonstrator confrontations throughout the (long) day. They're doing a great job live-tweeting the activity right now, as I post this.

@northoaklandnow: Police just threw tear gas bombs #occupyoakland

@northoaklandnow: Eyes.burning. throats on fire. Tear gassed. Ppl crying and coughing

@northoaklandnow: Police sprayed tear gas. My eyes, my nose and my throat burns. Am using water at the nearby wishing well to wash my face

East Bay Express has a reporter on the scene right now, too. Multiple reports of heavy use of tear gas.

Just got teargassed. Am legitimately terrified.

Photo: Oakland North

SF Gate has reporters on the ground, and an updated piece is here.

LIVE VIDEO STREAMS: Here's the CBS News live feed. Periodically going dark. Here is another local news feed from KRON-4. Here's the ABC affiliate. Here's a stream from an Anon/Occupy activist. And here's another. This archived stream shows police dropping flash-bangs and launching large amounts of tear gas into a crowd.

8:10pm Pacific: Reports via Twitter that Oakland police are bringing out a "sound cannon," a non-lethal weapon that shoots intense rays of sound to disperse crowds. Not sure yet if this is true. I've covered this for NPR and Boing Boing previously, and experienced a controlled test of it myself at a military location. The device is no joke. This reporter just confirmed the presence of an LRAD device on the scene, and OPD saying they intend to use it if crowd does not disperse.

Tweets coming in now (745pm Pacific) from various sources report that Oakland police have told news choppers and reporters on the ground to turn off their cameras and leave, and the reporters are apparently doing so. Protesters are, literally, being read the riot act and told to disperse. All media are ordered to leave. Police are saying that if all people do not leave, the police will use chemicals or force to coerce them to do so.

See also the "Occupy Oakland" Twitter account. And Mr. Davey D. And Gavin Aronsen of Mother Jones. And Josh Holland of Alternet. And Aaron Bady.

Update From @jackalanon, 9pm Pacific:

#OccupyOakland Notes for myself but you'll want to know: I saw use of tear gas three times, the sound canon, bean bags, uncountable amount of flashbangs and rubber bullets being used. I saw 1 kid passed out, a few people bleeding, puking and everyone screaming and crying. I was affected by tear gas was at least 3 times. eyes / skin burning, couldn't breath due to coughing. And got hit by a bean bag (wish I would've kept it). Cops where in full riot gear with shield, gas mask and beaten almost the full time. Moving moments was when a protester threw $$$ at the police line yelling "will you protect us now?" and after the first attack of tear gas we chanted "we're still here" though our unbelievably burning crying. I was never close enough to see any badge numbers, and although I didn't see it I herd of quite a few times of people getting hit with the baton.

Tonight started off as a protest, but was turned into a full out war for no reason. The crowd I was with was always peaceful. We yelled, protested, yes, but that is fully in our rights. We are the people to protect, not the people to be denied our rights as citizens of the United States. Our forefathers and our military personal fought hard for these rights, and for what? For us to be suppressed? I think not… it's our turn to not ask, beg, or vote our rights back, but to take them as they are ours. --- @JackalAnon

(via Quinn Norton)


    1. In firefox on xp professional I have the same experience as Jim Saul, but I can also unfreeze the comments by scrolling up and down with the mousewheel a few times with the screen centered on the author blurb (quicker, doesn’t require page refresh).

  1. The only violence in the Occupy protests come from govt. Beating drums and sleeping in a tent is hardly a violent activity. This is akin to  using fire hoses on black people who were protesting for their civil rights. The status quo badly wanted black people to be violent so they could justify killing us. But law enforcement did the killing. Marching, boycotting, and registering voters are not violent acts.

    1. “Mommy, the bad mans are doing bad things!”
      Do you believe your own propaganda or not? Frankly, at this point I think anyone who talks about how corrupt the system is*, and still ends up at a protest without a gas mask from a surplus store should be gassed, just on general principles. Either you believe it, or you don’t. If you don’t believe it, you’re a blowhard. If you do believe it, and still don’t act accordingly, you’re a dumbass.

      * I actually agree. I also know where my gas mask is. How about you?


    If the 60’s indicate anything about what the United States of America is to expect from an “Occupy” movement radicalized by police officers who, sucking up to the 1%, continue to brutalize their unarmed fellow citizens exercising a Constitutional right to protest (See this “Occupy Oakland” video).

    Surely disrespect and abuse of this magnitude will feed a “Movement” that grows and hardens, nourished by this harsh diet of state and local government violence and repression.

    Again, if the 60’s and 70’s are any example, unarmed American PEOPLE, insisting upon exercising their Constitutional right to protest, will die under orders or the failure of state and local government elected officials to restrain police departments and national guards.

    Does this result materialize or does the “National” Government (born of the Constitutional Convention of 1789), take steps to prevent this outcome by exercising authority the Founding Fathers entrusted to it to Protect individual citizens in the guaranteed exercise of their rights also provided for during that same sacred “Miracle at Philadelphia?

    Accordingly, President Obama must decide of the rights of individual citizens are to be protected from the abusive and authoritarian inclinations of state and local governments now disregarding the Bill of Rights?

    In the interim, we must hope that the Occupy Movement will continue the effort to wipe the slate clean of new-Confederates, and corporate media, politicians, abusive police departments and Wall Street oligarchs.

    Let’s hear it for “One Country, NOT 50 piss-ant states”.


    1. Actually, I support more state and local autonomy.  Give me my ninth and tenth amendments back.  Democracy might actually be workable at a state level.

      1. “Actually, I support more state and local autonomy.”

        Well brother Danial, there has been this divide from the Very beginning:  Those favoring a weak and pathetic confederation with states at the center of civil authority VS those advocating a strong National Government with the rights of individual citizens at the center of the American enterprise; Slavers VS Unionist; states’s rights oligarchs VS those demanding equal protection of law, and civil and human rights for all; and the tea party VS the Occupiers.

        I don’t expect YOU to agree with me or to EVER, deep down, support the UNION, and for sure, I’d rather DIE than share even the same stage with the likes of you….

        Am I clear enough here?

        America:  One Country, NOT 50 piss-ant states.

        1. I resent the notion that people advocating for local autonomy are necessarily against civil rights.  The reality is quite the opposite.  The biggest threat to my civil liberties at the moment is the rapidly expanding homeland security arm of the federal government.  Lobbying is most effective in Washington where the people’s representatives are separated from their constituents in terms of geography, culture, power, and money.  Have you noticed that the DEA is overriding state autonomy to arrest and persecute people who are in full compliance with state laws?  Have you noticed that the entire political system that surrounds federal elections has been subverted by pitting against each other the residents of states with vastly different opinions on how they would like to be governed?

          We’re not still fighting the civil war, man.  New war, new rules.  And FWIW, I have no desire to make you my enemy.  I’m perfectly willing to listen to your perspective even if I disagree.  You’d rather die than hear me out?  Chill out and disagree like a sensible person.

          1. Brother Daniel:

            Put that spew of red herrings you just laid out into the mouth of say, Rick “the secessionist” Perry or Herman “how high boss” Cain, and “fighting the civil war [the battle over assumption and everything else] is EXACTLY what you are doing.

            That said, if you are going to put words in my mouth, I’ll thank you to use my own.   Otherwise, I’s be done spoke fur misef.

            I’ve heard you but I am not remotely interested in sharing a stage with you, or any other confederationist, including THIS dialogue.

            America:  One Country, NOT 50 piss-ant states.

          2. I love how you’re trying to play like you have the moral high ground here.  You are ridiculous.  There are no red herrings.  I am a civil libertarian lefty who happens to believe that local autonomy is the best hope for a truly effective form of democratic government.  I am not part of some sinister conspiracy and I’m certainly not a fan of Perry or Cain.  If you still perversely insist that I am a stealth right-wing authoritarian I invite you to check out pretty much any politically-themed BB comment thread in the last few weeks for comments by people named “Daniel.”

            And I didn’t put any words in your both.  You said this:

            states’s rights oligarchs VS those demanding equal protection of law, and civil and human rights for all; and the tea party VS the Occupiers.

            That clearly implies that I am a “state’s rights oligarch” and that I am against “equal protection of law, and civil and human rights for all.”  It’s not putting words into your mouth to point out that your words imply something you didn’t explicitly say.  If you’re not trying to call me a slavery apologist or an authoritarian then the onus is on you to communicate more carefully and accurately what you mean.

            As far as tea party vs. OWS…what do you think the GAs at OWS are?  Autonomous local governments.   I am much, much more OWS than I am tea party.

          3. The biggest threat to my civil liberties at the moment is the rapidly expanding homeland security arm of the federal government.

            The biggest threat to a lot of other people’s civil liberties right now is states passing laws that encourage cops to stop all brown people and demand ID. The federal government is actually fighting that. Local autonomy is not all ice cream and cake for everyone.

          4. Yeah, obviously.  You decide what issues are most important considering your value system and then you advocate policies based on that.  It’s always a tradeoff like every single thing in life.

            The fact that ID laws are the best example you can come up with suggests to me that my tradeoff ain’t half bad (see what I did there?).

          5. Scratch almost any tea party-er just below the surface and you will find an unattractive bully hating on the American, National government because of the fact that the Constitution under which it was created PROTECTS the individual citizen from the long, historical pattern of abuse of the individual, the minority and the weak, at the hands of powerful, state and local governments clannishness.

            Sure, the typical states rights tea party-er will dress it all up with high-sounding red herrings about “off our backs’ or whatever sloganeering is in use at the time, but if you are patient and just listen to what they actually say, when they speak up to say it and why, you’ll observe that in reality, they simply hate civil rights, women’s rights, individual rights, voting rights, public education, promoting the general welfare, etc.

            In fact, anything remotely just or honorable or having ANYTHING whatsoever to do with the ability of our National government and Constitution to protect individual citizens from state and local government (clan) domination and intimidation, turns them all red about the head and neck.

          6. I don’t think so.  I think a lot of the Tea Party is people afraid.  A lot of people who grew up with white privilege in a mild form, where they would work hard in exchange for a home and a car and life that made material sense.  They’re watching that break up.  I expect just like the media does at progressive protests, where 98% of everyone is calm and thoughtful and 2% are jerks, the media covers the jerks, that the media covers the most colorful buffoons at any Tea Party protest.  I do think as a movement they’ve chosen to take their fears and target other people in even more trouble: to watch Wall Street destroy the economy and then go blame someone who cleans toilets in a hotel or picks strawberries for minimum wage is sick.  But it’s better to fight it as a sickness than an enemy… if you see only that part, we miss the opportunity to pull huge numbers of semi-Tea-Party people to help pull corporate interests out of politics or break up the big banks.   Many leaders of the Tea Party are using people’s hates and fears … but people are complex, and the best strategy forward is helping them out of the bully mindset instead of reinforcing it, building alliances where we agree.

          7. To the contrary:  There can be no alliance between the “public interest” and these willing, now abandoned, instruments of confederation.

            The tea party’s continuing and pathetic embrace of this unpatriotic element in exchange, no less, for personal privilege (fools gold), and at the expense of their fellow countrymen, brands them more jackals than misled citizens.

            And their charge that our National government is the enemy is as false, on the one hand, as their slavish obedience to and votes for those who have corrupted the election process for selecting, appointing and judging those who run it, is as true, on the other.

            Seeking to align the ‘Occupation’ Movement with the tea party is not a strategy, it is a death wish.

            America:  One Country NOT 50 piss-ant states!

    1. You feel it in your gut too and all your bones. It’s truly a dreadful machine. It was invented and marketed by an American, I might add. That person is an enemy of democracy.

  3. “City officials said they had been forced to clear the encampments because of sanitary and public safety concerns.” 

    Let me get this straight, you clear the encampments for public safety by teargassing the public?

  4. I was living in that neighborhood when they broke out the tear gas for some angry protests following the Oscar Grant shooting, first and only time I’ve smelled the stuff in person. At least that time the police had the excuse that some protesters had started smashing shops and car windows.

    1. It would be easier to disperse to dozens of smaller demonstrations. And I do mean dozens. A gross number of them. Spread out the police.

      1. Without proper focusing, you’d fry a lot more than LRADs. Not to mention that there’s a juggling act that needs performed between self-defense and public sympathy. EMPs are not going to garner much sympathy. They’d probably also consider it terrorism, so, uh, yeah, no.

    2. It would be hilarious to hook up a microphone and inverting amplifier to a DIY LRAD as an LRAD countermeasure.  You could have a big party right in the center where the beams completely cancel.  Or even get a DJ to modulate the cancellation signal to put together beats out of the LRAD noise.

  5. Serious (obvious?) question: If the Bill of Rights clearly guarantees the right to free assembly, how is it that police can arbitrarily deem an assembly ‘unlawful’? And who makes that call? It seems like this kind of rule shouldn’t exist. The fact that there were reports of police literally ‘reading the riot act’ causes me cognitive dissonance.  I seriously never considered that the figure of speech came from an actual thing (I know, duh, but I had to look it up: CA penal 409), and it seems to give the police unlimited power to kick ass as soon as someone makes the ‘unlawful’ call. 

    I’ve had the misfortune to be in more than one situation similar to what’s going right now in Oakland (years ago), and from what I’ve seen, it’s almost *always* the police showing up in riot gear and intimidating the crowd that actually causes the unrest. People get freaked out and start to panic.  All this bullshit does is make people angrier and cause more injury and arrests than were necessary. Why does this shit still happen? When do the cops start working for us, like they actually are supposed to? Who are they protecting here? I mean, this is literal, obvious police state shit going on here.

    1. Check with your state’s ACLU — they have the full info on what constitutes a “peaceful assembly”; there is some legalese that that is not obvious.

      In Indiana, for example (I lived there for 10 years) — your protest is a peaceful protest if it is at an accepted time, place, and manner, generally requiring a permit. This is all well and good if you’re protesting a church or planned parenthood (in Indiana, you’ll have an easier time with permits for the latter, of course :P) but a bit harder when you’re protesting the gov’t or friends of the gov’t.

      “Civil Disobedience”, as done by all the favorites (Ghandi, King Jr., Thoreau, etc) is more in line with what we would describe as “peacefully assembling” and is *not* protected by law, per se — so the officers have a legal right to take measures (ie. arrest, kettle, etc) to maintain the “peace”. The Oakland incident was WAY out of line. I kind of suspect that if they didn’t have things like rubber bullets and flashbangs that they’d be shooting live rounds and lobbing grenades. 

      To get over this hump, we need to (a) get more police on our side, like they were in Wisconsin (teacher’s union) and Albany (OccupyAlbany) and (b) educate our fellow protesters about the arrest process so that they are less afraid to be arrested.

  6. Make no mistake, the police are wetting their pants in excitement because they finally get to try out all of their new 21st century anti-personnel toys like sonic cannons.  This is related to why swat teams crash through doors in the middle of the night to “catch” someone who smoked pot. This is related to why sales of the $200,000 – $300,000 BEARCAT law enforcement armored tank are skyrocketing.

  7. A self-defense LRAD would be violence returned for violence. Bad idea. Best to stay peaceful or undo everything that has been done in Oakland and elsewhere. Don’t give police an excuse to use more violence.

    1. Peaceful protest does not effect change any more now that cops have so-called ‘non-lethal weapons like tasers, rubber bullets and sonic cannons. The 60’s are over, dude, and civil disobedience has effected absolutely ZERO change since the civil rights movement. All it accomplishes since the vietnam war was ended is getting you hauled off to sit in a cell with no charges to be filed by the DA – but it’s gets you off the street and that’s exactly what they want. It’s time for unarmed, uncivil resistance. If a cop punches you in the face for not moving just as fast as he’d like, you should be punching him right back. No weapon in his arsenal can be justified to be used in that scenario except the ones they WILL ALREADY employ against you for disobeying an order to move.

      1. The chance a protestor might punch a cop in the face is exactly why the cops are sent in to punch protestors in the face.  It destroys the power of the movement, and at least some of the people calling the shots know this, know that a massive riot is less danger to the status quo than a bunch of peaceful people sitting in tents.  You think we can fist-fight our way past the army?  Look at what happened in Egypt: you have to see the cops as people.  Don’t punch back.  If you can’t take nonviolence training and really just feel the need to fight back, it’s all about pictures, witnessing and sharing witness.  If you punch a cop in the face, he gets to go home and say “some asshole punched me in the face, but I hit two dozen of them jerks;” if you stand peacefully, maybe get his religious leader to talk about cops hitting singing protestors next time he tries to pray, you get into his dreams, you break down the ability of the authorities to use force.  Tahrir Square got it right.  Read what Gandhi wrote.

        Also, my guess is that the civil disobedience in the Seattle WTO protests saved about one life per every protestor just through the changes in AIDS drugs distribution.   We’re not in the streets in serious numbers, tiny tiny percentage of the population at ows, and even so the authorities are freaking out. 

    2. I may have misread the original comment, but I thought they meant hacking defense against LRAD (eg. if you wear a metal vest under your coat, you can block the microwave cannons they also have). A “hack” might be simply wearing ear plugs, though I don’t know if that’s enough.

      1. Ear plugs aren’t rated high enough for that much energy. Something like these would protect your ears, but I assume those kinds of weapons would be affecting other tissues at the same time.

    3. Agreed — the peaceful, steady, almost meditative presence of resistors speaking truth to power is freaking out the business as usual crowd enough to send in tear gas –> an angry response, a few stones thrown back (or far worse, some crazy high-tech possibly-nonlethal-weapon), and the brutality succeeds in transforming the public’s view of the movement into a squabble.  There’s no point in chasing the protestors off the square for a few days: the point is to move this from being a ordinary people demanding our country back, into (1) a squabble between angry people, and (2)  where the police are the central bad-guys instead of hirelings of the people who stole the economy. 

  8. Did you really need to include the qualifier “nonlethal” in the headline to this story? You’re just repeating PR propaganda.  It’s either a weapon, or it’s not a weapon.

      1. Agreed.  Especially when the “less lethal” weapon is fired at people’s heads, at short range, as was apparently the case in Oakland last night.

    1. I would also add that this is no such thing as “nonlethal” beyond the marketing material for the devices.  The correct and more acurate term is “less lethal”.  A rubber bullet fired directly at someones head will kill them, as will a tazer fired in to the back of the skull.   

      Of course the training for such devices does include these as part of the big long list of things not to do with them.  So any officer doing so should be up on charges of murder (it being a deliberate & calculated act).  Not that you’ll ever convict a pig of that in a million years.

  9. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.. So much for our constitutional rights! Anyone who still thinks the constitution protects their rights has not yet dealt with the corrupt cops, judges, and politicians of our system. The reality is that the United States of America, which proclaims itself the “land of freedom,” has the most dishonest, dangerous, and crooked legal system of any developed nation. 

  10. For those who are interested, the LRAD sound cannon should have no effect on deaf protestors or (in theory) those with sufficient ear protection.  But keep in mind that the thing is operating at upwards of 120 decibels, and most commonly available earplugs will only reduce this by 20-30 decibels.  The threshold for permanent hearing damage is somewhere around 90 decibels.

    Think of it as being present at a very loud, non-consensual rock concert.

  11. LRAD, or parametric speakers, use the interference pattern of a pair of ultrasonic transducers to produce the audible sound. It’s *highly* directional. Because the originating source waves are ultrasound, it’s also highly reflective. For example, if you have a piece of sheet metal you can bounce the sound around and redirect it.

      1. can the body of a car protect you from the vibrations of an 18″ subwoofer cranking dubstep?  NO.

        1. Dubstep: low frequency.  Appx. 60 Hz let’s say.  Speed of sound appx. 340 m/s gives a wavelength of just under 6 meters — much larger than a car door. Ever notice how you only get the low end from outside the car?

          LRAD: high frequency.  Appx. 2.5 kHz.  340 m/s gives a wavelength of significantly less than 1/10th of a meter, safely smaller than a car door.

          Not that I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.

    1. Hmm.  Just as a corner-reflector (three planes arranged as the corner of a cube) sends light back in the same direction that it came from, couldn’t a similar setup — if large enough, say a few meters across — send the sound exactly back to the sender?   Not practical, perhaps, but an interesting thought experiment… you could perhaps install a defensive ring of these, facing outward, to bounce the sound back to anyone aiming an LRAD into the center…

  12. My part of Oakland is full of poor people. There’s at least one murder a week. Old creeps pimp out teenaged girls in broad daylight. You can buy crack or heroin 30 feet from my door, and two of my neighbors have been held up at gun point this summer.And the City of Oakland says they don’t have the police to stop any of that.But a bunch of people protesting the fact that rich people got a bail out and everyone else got nothing? The city shuts them down tight. Bang. Done. Riot act.Do you ever get the feeling you’ve bean cheated? I do. Every day.

    1. In North Oakland (by Tech), three of my neighbors have been held up at gunpoint in the past 2 weeks – they tracked the robbers (who took smartphones and wallets from their victims) – but OPD didn’t have the staff to follow-up on the first robbery.

      Unlike the actual riots post Oscar Grant slaying & trials – people weren’t jumping on cars and breaking store windows – I heard about throwing some paint but nothing they did merits the response.

  13. And as usual, please note, the police tell the media to leave, no doubt For Their Own Protection™. I expect further updates to include reported confiscation and/or deliberate destruction of any recording devices the police come across.

    1. “http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2011/10/25/BAUB1LLTC9.DTL&object=%2Fc%2Fpictures%2F2011%2F10%2F25%2Fba-OCCUPY26_0504432665.jpg”
      C’mon Anon!

  14. Hey America… Europe calling .. just what the heck is going on over there?

    – When will the politicians and the public wise up and figure that the 99% is also the voting 99%?
    – The cops can have fun by treating you like animals and pretending the constitution is now void
    – You can vote their paymasters out of office.
    – Who is going to step forward and propose a solution at the ballot box?
    – The right to vote can’t be removed or revoked with teargas.
    – It’s going to take time to exert that right but it is irrevocable.
    – Don’t forget tonight, organise and act concertedly.

    1. Hey Europe, love those live streams of burning buildings in Greece! Sorry we don’t have anything quite that interesting to send back to you yet, but we’re working on it!

  15. “The sign of a truly totalitarian culture is that important truths simply lack cognitive meaning and are interpretable only at the level of “Fuck You”, so they can then elicit a perfectly predictable torrent of abuse in response. We’ve long ago reached that level.” Chomsky 1990


    If the 60’s indicate anything about what the United States of America is to expect from an “Occupy” movement that is radicalized by police officers who, sucking up to the 1%, brutalize unarmed fellow citizens exercising a Constitutional right to protest, it is that a peaceful “Movement” will expand, and nourished on a diet of state and local government disrespect and violence, will harden and escalate, tactically and strategically.

    Likewise, as was the case when this happened in the 60’s and 70’s unarmed Americans, in the exercise of their Constitutional right to protest, will die on the orders of and by the failure of elected officials to restrain state and local government police departments and national guards.

    This time, we can decide in advance to DEMAND that our “National” Government, born of the 1789, “Miracle at Philadelphia”, exercise the authority entrusted in it by those Convention delegates to Protect citizens in the exercise of the rights recognized and guaranteed to Citizens by our Constitution.

    We have time to petition President Obama to declare to all concerned that the sacred rights of individual citizens to peaceably protest will be protected by the National government from abuse by ANY state or local government or officer thereof, who might be disposed to disregard them.

    Until we know whether he will or not, the resistance must continue and every patriotic American should be supporting its effort to purge the new-Confederates, and corporate media, bought and paid for politicians, abusive police departments and Wall Street oligarchs from civil society.

    In the interim our anthem should be that “The United States of America IS (not are) One Country, NOT 50 piss-ant states”.


  17.  Someone not not connected to the Occupy movement needs to pull some serious pranks on the cops in Oakland and New York.

    The CIA once published an awesome manual about how to prank the Salvadoran government. Sponges in toilets. Candles in the oil system. One candle in the oil fill port will ruin a vehicle.

    1. No offense, as I appreciate your point. However, destroying police vehicles that I paid for with my tax dollars hurts me (I’ll just pay for new ones) and means that there are less of those vehicles for preventing actual crime. In addition, the money to repair/replace will come from things like library budgets or school budgets, perpetuating the mess we’re in. I’m not sure this is the right way to go…

      1. Bear in mind that they’re really not preventing actual crime. If you want to blame something for lack of real police work at any point, blame lobbing flash grenades at injured protesters.

  18. If only cops came this quick when hoods are fucking shit up in my neighborhood.  I guess elite bootlicking is more tasty than regular citizen bootlickin’….

  19. “Moving moments was when a protester threw $$$ at the police line yelling ‘will you protect us now?'”

    Hope they didn’t get beaten up and arrested for attempted bribery.

    1. Bribes must be in the order of millions and delivered via bank transfer towards the Police charity.  At which point it’ll vanish.  Simply throwing money at them will result in a cracked skull, charges of resisting arrest (hence your cracked skull), assaulting a police officer, attempted bribery of said officer AND perverting the course of justice. 

      Everyone’s got their procedures you’ve just got to follow them to get the desired results.

  20. This kind of overreaction by the so called authorities may very well be like someone stirring up a hornets nest. 

    “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    1. Treating Dr. King’s legacy like a law of physics is an appalling perversion of how change really happens.

      1. I don’t get the impression you’re very familiar with Dr. King’s thoughts on non-violent resistance. It’s not just a moral belief, it’s a practical one. Protesters who sit through gas and rubber bullets and don’t fight back build general sympathy for their cause. Protesters who yell “Fight back” cede the high ground to the police, and allow the authorities to change the subject. Watch what happens in the coming days. Maybe right wing pundits will even cite YOU. “Antinous, anonymous moderator for the popular left wing blog Boing Boing, encouraged readers to reject Martin Luther King’s non-violent philosophy.” Want that to happen?

        1. FWIW… What would be the recommended resistance, according to you, if the cops switched to live ammo?


          Keep in mind that Libyans eventually brought out weapons of their own, and successfully overthrew their government.

          1. Libyans had to be saved from a completely corrupt, widely hated lunatic who threatened to annihilate a justified widespread revolution that had lots of small arms.  Egyptians overthrew a much more powerful dictator without outside assistance.  If the cops shoot us, and we convince the army to side with them, we’re just dead.  If the cops come home to families that feel shame for what they’ve done, because the protestors were signing peace songs, and go to church and hear talks about violence against the innocent, over time there will be orders they won’t be willing to take.  

        2. It’s true that violent protest cedes the high ground to the state; it should either be non-violent protest, or incredibly violent revolution with the aim of the complete removal of the state, as we’ve seen in the Arab spring. Greater society in the West as a whole doesn’t have the levels of unrest necessary for a proper revolution, and sporadic violence in its place achieves nothing but reinforcement of the necessity of the state. Unfortunately, however,  non-violent, state-sanctioned protest is extremely easy for the state to ignore, and has to be combined with some form of activity that makes the continued adherence to the policy being protested against economically unfeasible. It’s economic damage, rather than the worthiness of a cause, that affects change.

          That economic damage can take the form of violence; the IRA would never have managed to get the British Government to agree to the Good Friday Agreement without it. It can also take the form of non-violence; Ghandi would have never been successful without negating the economic benefits of maintaining the Raj through making continued support of occupation politically unviable.  It pains me to say it, but the Occupy movement will never make their respective governments sympathetic by sitting in public spaces. It’s a waiting game, and the economic balance is on the side of the status quo: it’s not costing them anything to sit and wait until the protesters give up and go home, whereas it would cost them unimaginable amounts of money and power to listen to their demands.

          If Occupy London became Occupy London Bridge, however, that might be a different story. Put genuine economic pressure on the government and you’d be amazed at the severity of the response. Respond to that violent response with non-violence, and make sure that your own media response is handled by articulate people who don’t look like hippies, and suddenly the public is on your side. As soon as that happens, it becomes politically impossible for the government to keep ignoring the demands of the protesters.  Sitting in tents and waiting for a police beatdown, if and when it comes, and then being slaughtered in the media as a bunch of crusty hippies and anarchists isn’t going to achieve anything; governments are very well-versed in suppressing and ignoring this kind of protest and have infinitely more time and money than the protesters.

          1. The fact that the system felt it necessary to gather hundreds and hundreds of police to teargas the protestors seems to contradict the idea that they were no threat to the system.  Politicians seem not to agree with your hypothesis that “it’s not costing them anything to sit and wait until the protesters give up and go home.”

        3. I don’t get the impression you’re very familiar with Dr. King’s thoughts on non-violent resistance. It’s not just a moral belief, it’s a practical one.

          No. Movements are won by the rioters as much by the peaceful demonstrators. History is written by the people who publish the textbooks and decide to purchase them for school systems. It is rather obviously in their best interests to paint everybody except MLK and Gandhi as not only evil, but useless.

          The problem with this, besides the simple factual wrongness, is that it assumes that rights are granted by the oppressor, not won by the oppressed. I assure you that whatever rights African-Americans now have, were won by them, not granted by a sympathetic populace. A decide not to have cities on fire was at least as big a motivator as widespread sympathy for the cause. Likewise, India won its independence and the Vietnamese kicked our asses out of their country.

          The Winning Sympathy Thesis is oppressor ideology.

          1. Never seems to occur to the biggest King fans that a big part of King’s appeal was that the alternative was on the news every night burning down Watts and Chicago.

          2. From 1955 to 1964 when the Civil Rights Bill was signed, the civil rights movement had marches, sit-ins, freedom rides, some civil disobedience – but I don’t think the movement caused any city-burning riots. Those kinds of riots before and after ’64 were usually ignited by police actions and spread due to overall frustration. Also, the Civil Rights Movement had significant and colorful support nationally. The Bill wasn’t signed to stop the burning. It was signed because it was way overdue.

  21. Oakland police have told news choppers and reporters on the ground to turn off their cameras and leave, and the reporters are apparently doing so.

    Any reporters that follow those orders are cowards and the police are cowards for trying to do this slimy shit in the dark. The cops are stupid… there’s plenty of cameras there amongst the protestors and we’ll see what the cops don’t want us to see anyway. The police are acting like fascist assholes trying to hide their disgusting, unAmerican actions and acting as corporatist lackeys.

    You cops should be ashamed of yourselves attacking peaceful citizens in your own country.  Think for yourselves, police.  You are on the side of evil when you do these things to peaceful Americans.  You are on the wrong side of American history.  You are failing your country.  You are failing yourselves.

    On the plus side, this is only going to make the OWS movement explode into much larger numbers at an even faster rate.  You fucked up, Oakland police.  You fucked up hard.

  22. “Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion.”
    — Benjamin Franklin, autobiography, 1784

  23. The description of chanting “we’re still here” through the smoke and tear gas sure reminded me of something… if only I could recall what.  Something about a night-long battle, ragged underdogs defending desperately, sieged by the long military arm of unaccountable and unjust government as it tries to put down their fight for freedom… something about being heartened in the darkest moments of despair as through the smoke, and gas, and disorienting cacophony of explosions, illuminated by the very flashes of the enemy ordinance, a solitary flag of resistance still flew above the camp, a defiant symbol that the battle was not lost.

    Ah well, I can’t remember.  It was just some cheesy old song I once heard.

  24. Banks get a bail-out but people get gassed. Remind me again, who does the government work for?

  25. My favorite chant I’ve seen reportedly coming from the protesters: “You’re sexy. You’re cute. Take off your riot suit!”

  26. The old get old
     And the young get stronger
     May take a week
     And it may take longer
     They got the guns 
    But we got the numbers
     Gonna win, yeah
     We’re takin’ over
     Come on!

    1. Remember this stuff when law enforcement want money for new equipment and staff. They say it will be used on criminals, but it can so easily be used on law abiding citizens. It is time to cut their budgets.
      If you stop their endless funding you will stop them.

      1. I’ve been wondering if the biggest threat possible to the police would be something like a separate department for community semi-policing, moving budget from well-paid police officers to another department.  In Oakland police officers are paid vastly better than average in many of the neighborhoods they police, live outside those areas.  Probably lots of veterans need jobs.  I don’t believe “fighting back” against police in almost way makes sense except one I can think of: Oakland police should not be part of the “one big union” anymore.  If they want to strike, replace them.  Oakland police have a terrible record, local residents on half the salary could make much better officers policing their own neighborhoods.

  27. If the Oakland authorities are having difficulty keeping a particular public square clear of protestors then perhaps they should
    a) call in the Saudi National  Guard (Bahrain)
    b) send military in tanks to clear it (China)
    c) use non-uniformed state thugs to shoot protestors (Syria)

    Oh, wait , wrong country…..  or is  it?

  28. The moral high ground, which in this context is really just “what people think of you when they see you on television”, matters when your strategy is to effect change by pressuring the political and media establishment. Today’s protests have an ambivalent attitude toward this: political indifference and hostility is taken for granted, and the mainstream media’s cluelessness seems more or less intractable.

    This drains the “moral high ground” of its value. So what do you do? People in the 1960s had an incentive to give up, in the long run, because of a growing economy and an abundance of jobs: dropping out was a choice, a rejection of the status quo on moral grounds. But now it’s not a choice: the reality is unemployment and a prospect-free future. There’s nothing to reject, because there’s nothing on offer.

  29. Im really glad the police treated the Tea Party protests in EXACTLY the same way.

    The only difference is that in many cases TEA party members were armed and openly carrying weapons. Are the police trying to tell us something? 

    It seems to me that their treatment of the protests is saying  “bring guns and actually threaten politicians and we will leave you alone” and “if you show up to peacefully protest without weapons, we will tear gas you and beat on you with batons”.

    1. Right, it’s like – “Toe the pork limbaugh line, and we’re behind you 100%”, ’cause that’s what we listen to while eating donuts, ditto”.

    2. Compare two hypotheses:  (1) The Tea Party isn’t harassed because they have weapons.  (2) The Tea Party isn’t harassed because they are a tool of, not a threat to, the people with the most power.  It’s not the police trying to tell us anything, the people giving the orders wouldn’t face those armed Tea Party members, it’s the people who give the police their orders.  Plus both the Tea Party and OWS could easily be arrested instead of tear gassed (ask yourself why hundreds of officers attacked a smaller number of half-asleep hippy protestors instead of just arresting them.)

  30. -first off and completely unrelated, I’d like to say that facebook connect sucks ass, it gives me errors on every browser, every time-

    In reply to Keith Higgs: the Government in a representative democracy is said to work for the people that elect its officials. But in practice, this has been organized so that the government works for whoever / whatever gets the officials (re-)elected. 

    In theory, that’d be the people who vote in a district: a constituency. But in practice, how do you get elected and re-elected? You need: 

    1) your fellow partisans approval, because they must nominate you before you can even run 
    2) your campaign funders on whom you are dependent to fund your campaign with massive wads of cash 
    3) mass media which you need for publicity and -more importantly- public approval. 

    Clearly, this causes a bias towards a certain type of candidate. So, your elected sherrif, your elected DA, your elected mayor, your elected judge, your elected whoever will be biased towards whatever is the party line, towards whoever controls concentrated wealth and towards whoever controls mass media’s ‘opinion’ of right and wrong. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these candidates are truly evil or corrupt. At least not from the get-go. Most likely they genuinely believe they have the right idea and because the filter works to way it works, they end up floating on top.

    Even so, these cops pound into these protesters because those that order the pounding understand perfectly well that these protesters are not the people who will get them re-elected. 

    Now you might call this a systemic flaw but it really isn’t. In order to protect the people from this scenario of state terror, the system has a Constitution: a lawmaker’s law, designed to prevent lawmakers from abusing their law-making power against the people (ugly sentence, sorry, but its the point across). This includes the right to free and peaceful assembly and as such lawmakers can’t easily make another law, nor enforce laws, negating that right. 

    Constitutional peaceful assembly trumps any laws concerning public health.

    Now, you might think “why is he explaining all of this to me, I f*ckin’ know all that”  Yes, you do. Of course, everyone does: so do the people who gave the orders to hit against a peaceful assembly. But they went ahead and did it anyway. This is where a political bias (people who believe their views to be “good” even if you and I do not agree with them) turns into a deliberate evil. This beat-down is not even about means justifying an end. Not any more. The people who ordered this can no longer tell themselves they are doing this for anything greater than the good of themselves and their patrons. They have demonstrated their intent which is to hold on to power, even if it means breaking the law. 

    They are corrupted. 

    I don’t recall who asked us to remember that on both sides of even the most bitter argument, stand reasonable men. But I do know we’ve past that point. The individuals who order violence against fellow citizens exercising their right to free assembly (with an instrument paid for by those same citizens, no less) and who in doing so knowingly break constitutional law, simply to protect their own private position amongst an elite… these are not reasonable men. They are small time despots. Plain and simple.

    1. I agree in principle, but having been in local government myself (no longer), I know for a fact that a public health concern trumps pretty much anything.  Depending on where in the country, of course, the local health officer can unilaterally declare a zone or building a health hazard and shut it down.  Some localities don’t have this but many do.  Yes, this power could be abused.  But a legitimate health concern, such as a toxic spill or an outbreak, would preclude ANYTHING else happening in an area and the Health Officer has the power to declare that type of situation with no one else’s approval.

      1. You know, I wrote that and thought “that’s probably not the strongest example”. Went ahead anyway. Still, while on the one hand it makes sense that public health carries such weight, on the other this is exactly what happens every time when basic rights get trampled: someone plays the fear-card, and it’s off to the races.

  31. Clip of an Oakland policeman deliberately lobbing a flash grenade into a crowd of people trying to help a badly-injured protester:

    1. Christ that’s horrifying.  That video should get a post of its own.

      It recalls the terrible strategy of snipers wounding one victim in order to get a clear shot at those who try to help.

      It also makes me hate the “like” nomenclature on the button. I guess “Everyone must see this” is too long to fit.

      1. Christ that’s horrifying.  That video should get a post of its own. It recalls the terrible strategy of snipers wounding one victim in order to get a clear shot at those who try to help.

        The video clearly shows one thing for sure.  Those cops have NO HONOR in what they do.  They are scumbag THUG pieces of shit.  They could have done the right, moral thing and stood down like other cops with honor have done – but these weasels, these shitbags are cowardly, weak, unAmerican enemies of the American people.  They are an embarrassment to good people everywhere.

        And on top of everything they are too stupid to realize this is only galvanizing the movement with more steam than ever.

        Everyone should spread this video to all corners of the United States.  All Americans need to see that video so we can all see what our enemy looks like.

      2. I was just a little angry, until I saw the condition of the injured guy they were trying to help at the end of the video.

    1. Man, what the fuck is it with LA-area cops???

      Say what? Are you under the impression that Oakland is somewhere in the LA area?  

      It’s not.  Oakland is across the bay from San Francisco, over 300 miles from LA.

      Occupy LA hasn’t been in the news much.  The following statement, posted to the Occupy LA blog by Liz Savage on Monday, may help explain why that is:

      This was passed onto me to share via Occupy Los Angeles PR Team — please read and post around the internet! -Liz

      The Los Angeles City Council voted on Oct 12th to support the Occupy Los Angeles activists congregating downtown. We are very thankful for their support and are encouraged by the good will shown by all City officials and the LAPD in particular. 

      Regarding what City Hall Support does and does not mean; it means they like us. However it does not mean that Occupy LA was granted the right to have camp tents on the grounds 24/7. City ordinance in fact states that tents must vacate the lawn at City Hall between 10:30pm and 5am. Thus far LAPD has not enforced this ordinance. Their leniency has made the occupation less stressful for many of us. As a result roughly 400+ Occupiers In tents have occupied the grounds around the clock. 

      Within the last week, in a private meeting with City officials, the Farmer’s Market was issued verbal notice, as was Occupy LA, stating that if tents are on the South lawn or blocking the sidewalks adjacent the South lawn (excluding 1st St) the Farmer’s market would not be allowed to set-up. The Farmer’s Market hours are every Thursday between 4am- 6pm. Obviously this South lawn schedule overlap is a concern for both our awesome local farmers as well as our amazing Occupiers.

      Fortunately this past Thursday and option was offered by the City that allowed the Farmer’s Market to set-up across the street. It has not been announced by the City if this is going to be an ongoing solution. Occupy LA respectfully request a formal and public statement to clarify the City’s position on this matter.

      We thank everyone involved in making this a peaceful and safe Occupation. 

      Buy local!!

      -Occupy Los Angeles PR Team

      That may be changing; but, for the moment, *that’s* what the fuck it is with LA-area cops.  :-)

  32. According to the local nsp, Oakland did do something kind of cool. Hours before the sweep, they sent in a bunch of social workers to coax out of the herd those who are obviously homeless.

    1. So they used social workers, not to further the cause of social justice and human dignity, but to clean up part of an uncomfortable mess that the Man didn’t want to look at. That’s not cool, especially not when viewed through a social-work lens. Liberate, agitate, help individuals better fit to their environment, yes; help the state keep the streets clean and nice, not so much; actively aid police repression in a time of crisis, not at all. For shame. And didn’t those “homeless” people have a “home” at the protest camp? NYC’s homeless down at Liberty Square report feeling much more secure and looked-after there than in shelters.

      The targeting of musicians makes me think of the Lemony Snicket quotation from a week or so ago, the one about history recording other instances of powerful folks hating on the less-powerful, and how those narratives don’t end too happily. It also makes me think of a favorite quotation from V. I. Lenin, on making music during a time of political crisis:

      But I can’t listen to music often, it affects my nerves, it makes me want to say sweet nothings and pat the heads of people who, living in a filthy hell, can create such beauty. But today we mustn’t pat anyone on the head or we’ll get our hand bitten off; we’ve got to hit them on the heads, hit them without mercy, though in the ideal we are against doing any violence to people.

      An open letter to The Man: if you continue to violently repress our peaceful, musical, drum-beating protests, history records that things might just escalate to the pitchfork-and-torches stage, at which significantly fewer bongos will be present. Your move.

      1. My take on their action was to protect those who might not be able to respond as nimbly to the coming sweep as the young and more alert. If this was the intention it was a thoughtful and humane effort. But go ahead and big-picture it.

        1. It was thoughtful and humane only in the limited sense of alleviating possible harm, which is indeed a prime directive for social workers. But it also operated within existing power structures that served to endanger those homeless folks in the first place: the macrosystems that cause homelessness and perpetuate it by failing to solve the problem, as well as the more proximate system of the police and state agencies who were bringing the pain directly by illegally destroying the protest camp. That’s less a big-picture worrying, than a multi-spectrum assessment, the kind you seem unwilling or incapable of performing.

          And again, the homeless are finding homes in these protest camps. Aiding in the disruption of these camps in any way is oppression, pure and simple.

          1. Well, thanks for the choice, Timothy. In this case, I choose “unwilling.” My original comment was a detail, a sidebar, a note of graciousness on the part of Oakland – if that was Oakland’s intention. It was not intended to be a multi-spectrum overarching worldview. Just a little ‘ol bay leaf for the stew. And as far as the homeless having a home in the camps – I think part of the social workers’ message was: Not for long.

  33. [Tech note:  The comment-posting system’s habit of discarding all my paragraph breaks and occasionally rearranging lines of text is becoming increasing annoying.  I suppose I should be grateful that the post can be edited, and that para breaks actually stick when they’re edited back in, but still…]

    1. I’m constantly removing randomly inserted line breaks from comments. That’s why half the comments say ‘edited by a moderator’ if you open them up.

  34. Those are less-lethal weapons, not non-lethal. Bean bag rounds are about as non-lethal as a baseball bat.

  35. What we need is a million people to go to the Oakland site. . What could the cops do.  Even just a couple hundred thousand people would overwhelm them. What would a cop do with a thousand people walking towards him? What would 10 cops with 10,000  angry citizens marching towards them do? 100 cops and 100,000 angry citizens? The citizens don’t need weapons, They would greet the cops with a group hug, squeezing their contempt for the US Constitution right out of them.
    Lets do it.

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