Tomorrow is the general strike and no one knows exactly what will happen.  People will improvise consciously and instinctively.

1 November 2011


Since my first report, Occupy Oakland has decisively moved into a new phase by October 25th’s 5am police raid and the evening’s resistant response.  In the several days leading up to the raid, the City of Oakland made it apparent that a police raid was imminent by increasingly threatening letters and sending in the fire marshal to confiscate the occupation kitchen’s propane tanks, hindering food production.  Clearly recognizing the antagonistic relation with the State and its inevitable repression, the occupation affectively and materially reinforced its resolve, maintaining its stance of noncooperation with the State and its autonomy for radical actions, encouraging the presence of a constant density of bodies, building barricades around the perimeter, and establishing a text messaging action network for supporters to converge on the plaza when the raid did happen.


The police raid manifested over 500 police in riot gear from cities all over central California attacking the peaceful camp with flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets, arresting over 70 people, and completely destroying, confiscating, and securing the camp.  The immensity and inevitability of the raid was the result of the contradiction between the occupation’s uncompromising defiance and the State’s injunctions: by the State’s logic, the occupation could not be permitted to continue to exist.  The repression was intensified by the Oakland Police Department’s historical character of brutality and its separation from Mayor’s office through recent political quarrels, further unbridling the police’s power.


The text messaging action network was utilized and immediately drew supporters to the plaza even as the raid was happening, and people maintained a confrontational and substantial presence to the police securing the plaza for the rest of the day.  The Mayor’s statement commended the police raid as a “peaceful resolution,” expressing the State’s logic in protecting itself.  The text network and the occupation’s public digital communications were utilized to call for an emergency rally at 4pm at the steps of the Oakland Public Library several blocks from the police-secured plaza.


The immensity of the attack at the most vulnerable hour fully revealing the occupation’s antagonistic relationship with the State combined with the occupation’s communications infrastructure produced a militant crowd of several hundred people at the rally.  There were numerous inspirational speakers and organizers called for gatherings every day at the plaza’s intersection at 6pm to maintain a confrontational presence to the police.  At 5pm, organizers launched a march to retake the plaza.


The first significant confrontation with the police occurred en route to the plaza.  Six police officers had arrested and secured two people, which prompted dozens of people in proximity to surround the situation and yell at and tussle with the police to let the arrested people go.  The police by their logic did not and approximately fifteen minutes later a column of riot police charged through to the situation exercising batons, flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets and extracted the six police officers and their arrestees.


This situation bears reflection: the ability of six police officers to resist dozens of confrontational people cannot be solely ascribed to the threat of batons.  The specter of the law augmenting the police successfully atomized the crowd into individuals unable to collectively act to defeat the police and free the arrestees.  The destruction of that invasive specter must be cultivated toward individually and culturally collectively to make defeating the police possible, as this scenario will undoubtedly repeat itself, and its implications extend to larger confrontations, for instance a hundred police officers confronting several thousand people.  The material conditions were present for the crowd to potentially and righteously free the arrestees.


The march continued to the police-secured plaza.  The police declared an unlawful assembly and issued a dispersal order.  The crowd strategically decided to continue marching and eventually wound back around to the plaza’s intersection around 8pm.  The police declared its dispersal order again but the crowd stayed fast.  Again, the police’s logic could not accept the contradiction between its injunction and the crowd’s uncompromising defiance, and through its particularly brutal character produced another immense attack of flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. 


The crowd retreated but kept defiantly regrouping at the plaza’s intersection, aided by the numerous street medics trained from the occupation’s last two weeks.  The cycle of the police’s dispersal order and attack and the crowd’s retreat and regroup repeated itself over a half dozen times deep into the night and produced numerous injuries including, most severely, the critical head injury of Iraq War Marine veteran Scott Olsen.


The immense police attacks upon peaceful protesters resulting in the severe injury of Olsen forced reportage through the logic of the mass media and dramatic on-the-ground footage was widely disseminated through occupation’s public digital communications, producing global interest strongly favorable to the occupation and unfavorable to the State.  The next day, the support for the occupation and disfavor for the State drew thousands of supporters to the plaza and prompted the Mayor’s withdrawal of the police.


The extensive global support and intensive local support created the opportunity for raising the stakes by successfully passing a proposal for a city-wide general strike on November 2.  This dramatic act was able to irrupt and inspire solidarity actions globally by the previous day’s events’ production of support for Occupy Oakland.  Since the endorsing of the general strike, there have been immense organizing efforts including outreach, forming alliances with unions, organizing to picket or occupy any business or school which disciplines employees or students for striking, formulating the plan to march on and shut down the Port of Oakland to most severely blockade the flow of capital, and a march against police brutality to strengthen resolve.  The Mayor issued an apology about the immense police repression but maintained demands declaring that the occupation cannot exist at the plaza: the logic of the State still cannot accept the occupation’s defiant existence even as disfavor has temporarily discouraged the State’s repression.


Tomorrow is the general strike and no one knows exactly what will happen.  People will improvise consciously and instinctively.  The State’s logic as such is in a certain sense limited and its responses automated to certain stimuli, such as intolerance of defiance to its injunctions yet sensitive to disfavor.  It seems apparent that the particulars of the occupation’s defiance resulting in the police raid and the people’s resistance to rounds of flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets produced potent new conditions that were developed upon favorably by the occupation.  The methods of engaging the police, from attempting to defeat them to maintaining restraint, need to be deployed based on producing more favorable conditions.  This stance encourages an imagination exceeding the contracted abstractions of “non-violence” and “violence,” and an agency to draw from either in situations to stimulate desired responses from the State.

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