If you don’t live in the immediate Bay Area, or even if you do, you’ve been hearing about how violent last week’s Occupy Oakland “general strike” was. On NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”–not a news show, I know, but still a place I usually think of as careful with facts, the day was summarized as one where police clashed with protesters who tried to shut down the city’s port. No police tried to stop the port shutdown, there were no clashes there, and the protesters succeeded in shutting down the port.
Here’s the way a local news commentator, who knows better, puts it: “The place for action last week was Oakland, where thousands of righteous demonstrators who believe they’ve been marginalized by those in power clashed with police, littered parks, broke windows and defaced buildings to vent their anger at the callous disregard they’ve experienced.”
Leaving for later why these accounts have gained currency–a combination of destructive, belligerent behavior by a relative handful of the demonstrators combined with the media’s natural tendency to focus on trouble wherever it occurs–I just want to say don’t believe everything you read or see (also leaving for later: the philosophical conundrum of whether you should believe anything you read or see right here).
From talking to both participants and people who covered the events that day, the vast majority of folks who took part in the Occupy Oakland strike were people bent on just one thing: peaceful protest. (Next you’ll want to know what they were protesting, and I think you’d get a thousand, or ten thousand, different versions of what brought people out there).
Anyway, here are some pictures of signs seen that day, long before the late-night miscreants (self-styled anarchists whom a friend calls “joy-riding thugs), seized their moment.