Brutal Consequences of a Dirty Lie Hit Home in Oakland

The city government of Oakland, California, destroyed an entire community -- two weeks old but a truer community than many in the city, founded on the Constitutional right to assemble and petition for redress of grievances -- on the pretext that improving sanitary conditions required violence against people and destruction of property.

I was at Occupy Oakland the night before the raid, and it was the most impressive set-up of any of the Occupies i had visited (New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Berkely, Boston, and even Portland, Oregon). The food was amazing, the amphitheater in regular use for direct-democracy general assemblies, the camp well laid-out with walkways and hay to deal with mud, and last but not least six-to-eight portable toilets funded by some local unions.

Lies Police States Tell

With a ragtag rabble gaining the sympathy of a majority of people in the US simply by being the most public voice inveighing against a system wildly out of whack, the powers that be have a somewhat difficult problem. They need to shut these voices up, and they need to do so without engaging on any of the issues that they raise, as most people will agree with most of them the more they think about them. Marrying "get the money out of politics" with the reasons why this matters is in itself a powerful message.

When it does not work to portray the self-declared 99 percenters as the Other (much poorer and government-dependent than yourself, more privileged, subscribers to Communism or some other long-demonized political belief), the city authorities (and those in the media who serve the same privileged minority the city authorities serve) have resorted to the most base name-calling: the petitioners are dirty and they smell.

Many people correctly note that this does not matter, as it has nothing to do with the Occupier's message nor the First Amendment "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

It is more important to make clear that the accusation is false. People at the larger Occupies are performing logistical miracles keeping more than hundred people sheltered, fed, and sanitary in city centers set up to discourage living there. This power, this crucial piece of self-governance, is perhaps the most frightening thing for governments and the rich that hide behind governments.

Occupy Oakland, on top of making its message heard, was making bathroom facilities and food (and participation in governance) available to people already living on the street, a difficult thing for a new movement and much more than the government that is suppressing the movement has done.

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About Benjamin Melançon

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Student-on-hold, ex-stocker and failed union agitator, ex-white-collar consultant and now co-founder and developer at Agaric Design Collective, making web sites with open source free software.

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