Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Exposing Cultural Myths at Occupy Oakland

What a welcome relief the Occupy movement’s trend of “leaderless” groups! True, this seemingly contradictory concept is difficult to absorb in a culture the promotes a leadership style that models the strongest, loudest, most persistent, and most vocal monopolizing the microphone – both physical and its cultural equivalent.

But, as Americans know well, repeat something often enough and it becomes part of the cultural vernacular. So, despite the difficulty politicians, media, and many Americans have in grasping this new paradigm, Occupy movements across the country continue as leaderless groups.

After the Oakland camp’s most recent tossing by police word-of-mouth convened about 1,000 people at the main library to strategize. Then they marched the four blocks back to City Hall for the 6 p.m. General Assembly.

There are refreshing and humorous moments at GAs when a random person from the crowd hops the line of speakers, commandeers the mic, and rambles on about the CIA commanding “us all through the fillings in our teeth”, that we’re at the “end times”, or that aliens are watching from outer space and waiting to invade. Then, the mic is retrieved, gently, and GA business continues.

Last night, the group reiterated its commitment to non-violence; anyone unable or unwilling to practice non-violence will be escorted, gently, from the group. It also consensually agreed that Saturday, November 19 is the next major gathering in Oakland for those aching for a different system of governance, society, and relationship to one another.

These peaceful and informal GAs belie the myths perpetuated by local government and the media about epidemics of violence at Occupy sites.

Then again, the movement is exposing other cultural myths and morality tales for what they are, too: formulas for shaming generations of wage-earners into silent compliance.

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain recently reiterated a classic:  “If you’re not rich, don’t blame Wall St, blame yourself.”

Variations on the theme include:

The rich have what they have because they “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”.

“God” shows His approval of the righteously hard-working by endowing them with material wealth.

The unemployed have given up or are too lazy to seek jobs.

“The American Dream” is there for the taking by anyone willing to work for it

Education ensures success.

The planet is a treasure trove of natural resources for bold risk-takers to tap.

Indeed, even the myth that police maintain social order for business is evaporating in the face of reality.

Jesse Smith lives in downtown Oakland and, at first, he was skeptical of the Occupy movement’s manifestation in his neighborhood. After he reconnoitered, talked with Occupiers, and understood that they echoed his grievances about our country’s direction, he joined the camp’s business liaison group.

Yesterday, he stood in the sunshine at the police barricades erected after the police raid early that morning and explained that the business liaison group had surveyed some 100 businesses in a 2 block radius around City Hall.

“We collected data that no one else seems to have: around one third of the business owners report neutral impact on their business by the occupation; another third, owners of convenience stores and pizza joints, report a positive impact – business has gone up; the rest, places negatively impacted, are the attractive retail outlets that tend to be chain stores.”

Most business owners note that the police actions are “the only detriment that they experience to their bottom line.” They say their vendors call and ask them, ‘Is it safe to come to downtown Oakland?’ There’s an impression outside of Oakland that there’s been a need for a constant police line and that raids and violent police actions are imminent. This, if anything, is what is killing commerce here.”

Dorothy King is the owner of the sixty-year-old Oakland-based family business Everett and Jones barbeque.

“People say small business owners in Oakland suffer because people don’t spend money here. No, if the small business owners who live and work in Oakland suffer it is because the big banks take our money out of our community and do not invest in our city.”

In the sunshine, a protester near Jesse Smith patrolled the police barricades behind which municipal workers picked up debris from the for-now demolished encampment. One side of the sign he carried urged, “Mayor Quan, City Council, how about a little imagination?” The other side read, “Re-Occupy asap.”

Judging by how the majority of people conduct themselves in Oakland these days, peacefully and with determination, it is only a matter of time before the latter comes true.

Susan Galleymore is a former “military mom” and a radio host, writer, and author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror. Contact her at susan@raisingsandradio.org.

Exclusively in the New Print Issue of CounterPunch

THE SLOW DEATH OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH – Nancy Scheper-Hughes on Clerical Sex Abuse and the Vatican. PLUS Fred Gardner on Obama’s Policy on Marijuana and the Reform Leaders’ Misleading Spin.  SUBSCRIBE NOW

Order your subscription today and get
CounterPunch by email for only $35 per year.

More articles by:

SUSAN GALLEYMORE is author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, host of Stanford University’s Raising Sand Radio, and a former “military mom” and GI Rights Counselor. Contact her at media@mothersspeakaboutwarandterror.org.

May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail