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
February 20, 2020
Katie Fite
How the Military is Raiding Public Lands and Civilian Spaces Across the Western Front
Nicholas Levis
Bloomberg is the Equal Evil
David Swanson
Shut Down Canada Until It Solves Its War, Oil, and Genocide Problem
Thomas Knapp
Freedom for $5.30…and This Time Mexico Really is Paying for It
Nick Pemberton
Mr. Sanders: Would You like Your Coffee Without Cream, or Without Milk?
Rachel M. Fazio
A Trillion Trees in Rep. Westerman’s Hands Means a Trillion Stumps
Jeff Mackler
Break With Two-Party Capitalist Duopoly!
Rebecca Gordon
Impunity Guaranteed for Torturers (and Presidents)
Jacob Hornberger
The CIA’s Role in Operation Condor
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Let Rome Burn
Jen Pelz
Reforming Expectations to Save Western Rivers
Maria Paez Victor
Canada Trapped By Its Own Folly
Binoy Kampmark
Pardoning Julian Assange: Trump, WikiLeaks and the DNC
Mel Gurtov
Poor Bill Barr
February 19, 2020
Ishmael Reed
Social Media: The New Grapevine Telegraph
David Schultz
Bernie Sanders and the Revenge of the Superdelegates
Kenneth Surin
Modi’s India
Chris Floyd
Which Side Are You On?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Hysteria Isn’t Killing Nuclear Power
Dave Lindorff
Truly Remaking Social Security is the Key to Having a Livable Society in the US
ANIS SHIVANI
Bloomberg on Bloomberg: The Selected Sayings of the Much-Awaited Establishment Messiah
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Occupations: The UN Business “Black List” and Israel’s Settlements
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s Extradition Case: Critical Moment for the Anti-war Movement
Howard Lisnoff
The Wealth That’s Killing Us Will Save Us: Politics Through the Looking-Glass
Yves Engler
Canada, Get Out of the Lima Group, Core Group and OAS
Nick Licata
The Rule of Law Under Trump
Sam Gordon
A Treatise on Trinities
Nino Pagliccia
Open Letter to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Lima Group Meeting
John Kendall Hawkins
Just Two Kings Talking
February 18, 2020
John Pilger
Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed
Peter Harrison
Religion is a Repeating Chapter in the History of Politics
Norman Solomon
The Escalating Class War Against Bernie Sanders
Conn Hallinan
Irish Elections and Unification
Dean Baker
We Shouldn’t Have to Beg Mark Zuckerberg to Respect Democracy
Sam Pizzigati
A Silicon Valley Life Lesson: Money That ‘Clumps’ Crushes
Arshad Khan
Minority Abuse: A Slice of Life in Modi’s India
Walden Bello
China’s Economy: Powerful But Vulernable
Nicolas J S Davies
Afghan Troops say Taliban are Brothers and War is “Not Really Our Fight.”
Nyla Ali Khan
The BJP is Not India, and Every Indian is Not a Modi-Devotee
Binoy Kampmark
Buying Elections: The Bloomberg Meme Campaign
Jonah Raskin
Purgatory Under the Patriarchy
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Herakles in the Age of Climate Chaos
Bob Topper
The Conscience of a Conservative
John W. Whitehead
We’re All in This Together
Gala Pin
Bodies in Freedom: a Barcelona Story
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail