Why Quan’s Got to Go

by zunguzungu

After Jean Quan ordered the raid on the Occupy Oakland camp, and imported police in riot gear from 17 districts to “police” a peaceful demonstration, she wants to apologize and calls for dialogue and also continues to tell the occupiers that they need to do the things she’s been telling them to do for weeks (stop camping out, etc). She regrets what happened, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s mayor.

It should, though. She needs to go. A precedent needs to be set: unleash police on peaceful protesters, lose your job. And while we don’t know that the person that replaces her will be any better, this is exactly why she needs to go. She’s a very liberal mayor and yet still this happened. Electing a liberal mayor does not get you liberal policies; that person may still, as Zennie Abrahams says Quan did, take what seemed to be the politically safest course of action. Let’s not forget that Quan was already taking fire for being insufficiently harsh on crime. The recall proposal that was already circulating declared that “she has willfully ignored the City’s most pressing issue: public safety.” Might that have played into her decision to be wildly overzealous about defending (so called) “public safety”?

This is something the Framers understood quite well: power corrupts but democratic accountability keeps that corruption in check. Good people only stay good if The People are able to make sure they do.  So Jean Quan needs to go to make the next mayor aware that there’s a political cost to putting nonviolent protesters in the hospital, to putting police in a position where they can be as violent as they inevitably will be when challenged. The next Mayor needs to know that you cannot police your way out of a confrontation with political dissent. And if Jean Quan goes, the next mayor will calculate the “safest” course of action differently. They might even take the safety of Oakland’s citizens into account, and maybe even prioritize that over the desirable emptiness of parks.