An open letter to Oakland mayor Jean Quan, in response to her plans to contact leaders of the Occupy movement in other cities to convince them to condemn Occupy Oakland's "violence".
Dear Mayor Jean Quan,
I hear that you’re looking to contact the national Occupy Wall Street leadership in order to have the movement officially denounce Occupy Oakland. Well, since you’ve put the call out to a leaderless movement, I guess that makes me, or pretty much anyone else for that matter, a de facto respondent. Which is great, because there are so many things I’ve been dying to tell you!
First, a warm congratulations for having thwarted the opening of a giant no-cost community center in a poverty-stricken city. Obviously that was a good idea.
Second, we’re super sorry to hear about your busted-up model of Oakland’s city hall. Yeah, that’s a bummer—since it’ll be difficult to remember what the building looked like without it. Oh wait…
But really, let’s get serious. Oakland is not Occupy’s playground—that's clear enough. We know very well who runs your playground: it's OPD (i.e. gun-loving suburbanites—I guess we could call them “outside agitators”), who are allowed to do whatever they damn please, no matter how vile, illegal, racist, or bone-crunching, and still walk away with a giant wad of the city's budget. Our hearts go out to you and to them: we know how much it means for OPD to operate with total impunity—we feel for those cops who had to accept overtime pay for their work on Saturday night. (But look on the bright side: at least they got a chance to do some seriously macho stuff, like brutalizing skinny people.) We care about the financial angle, too. We know the cops don't come cheap, especially when you insist on sending in flotillas of goons to protect empty buildings and parks. You have our sympathy! And not only you: it's the multinationals (again: outside agitators) who've been suffering during the port closures, and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce too—I mean, we all know you can’t share the playground with those guys! Let's not forget the political crew in Sacramento either, since they're the budget cutters par excellence (one more time: outside agitators). And the mainstream media: it’s no easy thing to report on police brutality when you're actually there on the ground, using eyes and legs and all that. We’d certainly cut and paste from police press reports if the GA would let us get away with it! Our sympathy is oceanic.
The point is: we get it, and we care. Oakland is your playground, not ours. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of your population lives under a death-decree of inequality and impoverishment in an economic system so nakedly devoted to exploitation that it hasn’t even got an “American Dream” to offer us anymore. No, we’ve long since understood that the playground belongs to the elite and their poodles and to hell with anyone else who tries to get a turn on the seesaw. As for the scores of occupiers still locked up after Saturday’s protests: well, we can’t say we didn’t see it coming. After all, that’s what you get for stepping out out of line: People stomp on your toes, steal your lunch, and push you to the ground—with the aid of batons, riot gear, tear gas, smoke bombs, rubber bullets, bean bags, flash-bang grenades, motorcycles, a tank (no kidding), helicopters, and a culture of corruption so pervasive as to warrant federal receivership.
We're coming to the end now, but please don’t think we’re being glib—Far from it! In fact, you’ve given us a lot to think about. After all, New York is no less a playground than your Oakland; the stakes of Occupy do seem bigger than the Zuccotti merry-go-round… Yes, we see your point: you’re telling us—“Get serious! This isn’t just about fun and games and happy feelings. This is about fundamentally remaking the city around us, starting with our subservience to capitalism and the state. In fact, there's a wholly different city waiting to be born: an Occupied city. It’s within our reach!”
We couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for getting in touch with us, Mayor Quan. You’ve really put things in perspective.
Occupy Wall Street
Originally posted: January 31, 2012 on Facebook