Occupy Oakland’s “Peace” Camp

by zunguzungu

It is a very cold morning in Oakland. All the occupy camps in Oakland have now been destroyed by police. The process the police began with tear gas and rubber bullets has ended with the reliable, predictable, and consistent arrival of police officers to destroy what people in Oakland have created, finally reaching the very peaceful and quiet and inoffensive Snow Camp last night.

There is a lot that people who occupy Oakland — by that name or otherwise — disagree about, in terms of tactics, principles, and goals. But here’s something that seems, to me, utterly impossible to deny: you cannot build a peaceful occupy camp in Oakland. The city will not let you. From the very beginning, the camp at Snow Park was NONE of the things that local media or city government have said about Occupy Oakland. Whatever you might think about any of the militancy or mess or danger or whatever of the original main camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza/Oscar Grant, it is simply and clearly the case that the people at Snow Park bent over backwards to negotiate and conciliate the city in every respect they could, without ceasing to be a camp. They never had open cooking, they allowed police into the camp, they talked with anyone who would talk with them, they made clear that their modus operandi was nonviolence, and they stressed, constantly, that all they wanted was the right to remain. They passed a GA resolution to try to get a camping permit from the city. Their kept their shit clean, even by the shifting standards of the city itself. And that wasn’t enough. The one thing the city wanted, above all, was their absence.

When the police raided and cleared the camp last night — without resistance from Snow Park or attention from the media — they demonstrated that what they truly and finally object to is the camp. They might be more gentle on you if you are peaceful and clean, but they’ll still evict you. You can’t break the rules of private property, ever. And now that the offending clumps of tents that once housed hundreds of people have been removed at the cost of an astounding amount of the taxpayer’s money, those people can go back to sleeping in the downtown doorways along Broadway and Telegraph. All can again be well.

But any time anyone says that the main camp was raided because of violence or because of some misbehavior on their part and anytime anyone argues that if they had behaved differently, they would have been allowed to exist, remember that the city only discriminated between the evildoers at Broadway and 14th and the “peace camp” on the Lake to the extent that it dealt with the former first. And then they came for the others, and turned them out.