FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Out of the Ashes

The Sonoma County daily’s Press Democrat Feb. 1 editorial “Occupy Movement in Ashes” is wishful thinking. Our phoenix will rise during this month. You wait. You watch. You see.

Occupy is still an infant, having been born in New York Sept. 17 with Occupy Wall Street. It is not even five months old and already the local daily tries to editorialize it into ashes. Rumors of our death are premature. We have made mistakes, including in Oakland. We’re learning and experiencing what one activist calls “growing pains.”

Provoked by police violence in Oakland, a few cornered occupiers among the 2000 present reacted. That has not happened here. The Sonoma County Occupy Town Hall Affinity Group–of which I am a member–opposes violence, as do the overwhelming majority of Occupy groups and individuals.

I do, however, respect the right of self-defense by those cornered by the police. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Violence is the voice of the unheard.”  And as President John F. Kennedy said at a 1962 speech at the White House, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

What would you do when surrounded by a large group of armed, masked, threatening, charging, and rioting armored men? I praise the brave souls willing to face such police violence. As one occupier wondered, “What’s next? Live ammunition?”

Punishing people in a democracy should be the job of the courts, not the police, which Oakland police are notorious for doing. They fan the flames.

Court-appointed monitors, according to The Bay Citizen, recently “wrote in their quarterly report that the police response to Occupy Oakland protests this fall raised ‘serious concerns’ about the department’s ability to ‘hold true to the best practices in American policing,’ and promised a thorough investigation of the matter. Last week, a judge moved the police department closer to a federal takeover, writing that he was in ‘disbelief’ that the department had yet to finish a series of court-ordered reforms.”

Why did the Press Democrat not report these relevant facts? The PD carefully selects what to report and what to exclude. A daily newspaper should represent various voices of its community, rather than just the status quo.

Occupy has “officially overstepped its welcome,” the PD alleges. Since when has the PD ever welcomed Occupy or officiated over such matters? The argument that what a few people did in one city reduces the national Occupy movement to ashes is without merit.

The PD asks occupiers to condemn the violence in Oakland. I condemn the police brutality and criticize the much less violent behavior of a few activists. I have done so within our movement and publicly, as have other Occupy co-leaders.

Now, will the Press Democrat denounce the violence of the Oakland police, who exercise unlawful authority? Or is there a double standard here?

Burning the American flag is an inflammatory and futile act of frustration that dilutes the main messages of the majority of occupiers and our many supporters, which is to bring about fundamental changes in our economic and political systems. When I was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Army, I swore an oath to defend my country against external and internal threats. I have kept that vow, which is a big reason that I am part of the Occupy movement, as are many veterans.

Violence by occupiers is a tactical mistake. The guns, other weapons, and media are in the hands of the protectors of the wealthy 1%. Violence is also a strategic and moral error.

The real violence that we should oppose includes the following: banks that gambled and foreclosed on the homes of millions; corporations that buy politicians with their big bucks; and stripping workers’ pensions and health care benefits.

Occupy does need to mature. Young people, especially, are desperate today. Their college debts are astronomical and their job options are minimal. Desperation can lead to violence. Long-term organizing is more likely to be successful.

“Ashes,” you fantasize. Yet on Feb. 9 the Sonoma County Town Hall will host its third of ongoing monthly gatherings in a downtown Sebastopol church; 130 to 140 people attended the previous two. On Feb. 17 the new Occupied Press—North Bay will show the film “Battle in Seattle,” about the l999 shut-down of the World Trade Organization. On Feb. 25 Occupy Santa Rosa will support teachers unions in a day of action in support of public education.

These are samples of the dozens of activities lead by Sonoma County Occupy groups as we prepare to move from a reflective winter into an action-oriented spring. Do these indicate “ashes?” You wait. You watch. You see.

Perhaps your editorial represents what we can expect from the new conservative Florida owners of the Press Democrat. Perhaps we need a new newspaper here that reflects the 99%.

Shepherd Bliss has owned an organic farm in Sebastopol for 20 years, teaches college, and works with military veterans, of which he is one. He can be reached at 3sb@comcast.net

More articles by:

Shepherd Bliss teaches college part time, farms, and has contributed to two-dozen books. He can be reached at: 3sb@comcast.net.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail