YSERBA

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Kevin Army

Kevin Army
Location
Oakland, California, United States
Birthday
August 19
Title
Executor
Company
Yserba
Bio
Formerly posing as Yserba Berrington, now just posing as myself. In a former life I worked on music creatively for a living. Now I'm a hardworking slacker and occasional writer for no money at all, and I like it that way. I post fiction, ramblings, songs, photos, videos, whatever I feel moved to do. I'm kind of directionless. Welcome!

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MAY 2, 2012 8:06AM

Arrests and Teargas At Occupy Oakland May Day Strike

Rate: 13 Flag

 

I knew going into the Occupy Oakland May Day Strike that it could be a rough day. I kept trying to talk myself out of going, and as it was, I couldn't get myself to show up until 11:30 AM. I had a feeling of dread; I was pretty sure the Oakland Police would be ready to come down hard on the protestors. Sadly, I was right.

Several actions had started earlier in the morning around 9AM. I found a march wandering near Lake Merritt by driving to where I saw a helicopter hovering, and finding riot police milling about in the area. When I found the march, it was tense. The usual friendly mood of Occupy actions wasn't to be found. Some people didn't want to speak, and most seemed on edge. I'm not blaming them, riot police were walking ahead and alongside at times, an oppressive feeling was in the air.

 bofariotpolice2

As the march would get to various banks, the riot police would race ahead blocking the banks off from the protestors. The Occupiers would yell at them, then move on. Some people I spoke to felt the march was unfocused, though I'm not sure if that's so much the case as it's focus kept being deterred by the police.

At one point riot police came charging down the sidewalk where I was, yelling at me to move out of the way, just as they were pushing into me on both sides. I was behind the crowd, and these riot police simply ran ahead and did nothing in particular, it was just a typical display of force they do at these events.

Sometime after noon, people were converging at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza at the city center. The plaza is where the Occupy Oakland encampment had been, and is still the central meeting place for most actions. Large amounts of riot police were there, and the tension was growing rapidly. I stood far behind, not wanting to get in the middle of anything. I couldn't really see how many protestors were present, possibly between 500-1,000.

arrest 3 

I could see skirmishes happening, and eventually I saw people who had been arrested led down the street to where I was. Then, several police chased down a man, threw him on the ground not too far from where I stood. They started to severely beat and restrain him. A crowd of photographers and bystanders gathered around to witness and photograph. I tried to get closer, but just as I did a tear gas canister fell right near where I was.

 beating

So there it was, my second time getting teargassed. The picture above was taken right before, as you can see we're all behind the general crowd. I can't help but think it was directed at the media to keep them from getting pictures of the beating. I know that sounds paranoid, and this is how the tactics of the OPD work. They have successfully radicalized many of us who have been at Occupy events, and made us suspicious to the point of sounding a little crazy. But being there, being present and witnessing their aggression and violence, has greatly changed my world view. And not for the better.

arrest 2 

Having had enough of that for awhile, I decided to go home and shower. On the way home I stopped by a one day nurses' strike at Summit hospital up the street. The peacefulness of the event was good to be around after what I'd just been through, and I can always get behind any action to support nurses. These nurses were protesting sweeping reductions in patient care and nurses' standards and workplace conditions.

nurses strike 2  

Last I heard, Sutter had decided to lock the picketing nurses out for 5 days as punishment for the strike. I hope they back down from that, and I hope they listen to the nurses. Having been in another hospital a year ago, I can't express how much the nursing staff did to help me be here today. We all know they work hard and don't get the pay or conditions they deserve. I was glad I stopped by.

After showering, I drove down to the Port Of Oakland. The Longshoreman's Union had moved a meeting originally scheduled for May 17 to May 1, which resulted in closing the port. It was eerily quiet.

 tank 1

I went back to the Plaza, and found police standing off with protestors. The police declared it an unlawful assembly. The Alameda Sheriffs department drove out a scary looking tank that was most probably for show. Eventually the majority of the crowd dispersed, and so did many of the riot police.

I learned that at least one more round of tear gas had been fired while I was gone.

 dignity march

I realized the police were moving to where another event was happening. An immigrant's rights/Dignity and Resistance march had left the Fruitvale Bart station. It included some Occupy groups, and went to a park where many Occupiers met up with them. I found at least 16 riot police vans around the park.

The march had been very peaceful and well organized. I learned this was the fifth year this march has taken place on May Day. There were at least two to three thousand on the march. Once they met up with the Occupiers, I think that number grew closer to four thousand.

dignity march flags 

At the park, at 5 PM, I sat down on the grass, and thought about the day so far. I realized I'd had enough. Though I love Occupy, I wasn't feeling the connection I usually do at Occupy events. I have no idea if that was my mood, the crowds mood, or most probably the effects of breathing in a bunch of tear gas. I felt spacey and weak. Tear gas is a chemical agent, and it is harmful. Generally not deadly, but not healthy either.

occupy your dream 

The world isn't right. That's why I keep going to these events. Something has to happen to change things. I wish I had something smart and uplifting to say to wrap this up, but it's just not in me right now. After what I saw and experienced, the world is even less right then before. I know hope will come back to me. But for now, I just want to curl up on the couch under a blanket and hide.

And wake up to a better world. A safer world. A more equitable world. A world we all deserve and need, a world of safe spaces and dignity, of justice and peace, a world where none of us need to go through this, a world where things are good and right.

Not in Oakland, not on May Day. Not like this.

cop with gun 

******

all content by me. no copyright intended. in spite of my kind of low mood, i'm glad to see people out getting involved, caring enough to show up and stand up for what they believe in. i thank them all.

 

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Comments

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Your a top notch fellow keeping us abreast of the situation from the very front lines too. Good for you and may your actions and words have their place in time.
Thanks for the update; I know that things don't look promising but they would be much worse if these things weren't happening. The most erosion of rights happen when people aren't paying attention now it will be much more difficult for people to keep their heads in the sand.

Still, it is hard to believe that the government and the corporate media continue to do absolutely nothing to make significant changes; instead they continue with the propaganda as usual including a surprise visit to Afghanistan that successfully turned this into a minor story in the corporate media. Of course they would have found a way to do that anyway.

But they can't continue doing this without a much bigger collapse of society that even impacts the people in the gated communities.
Sad. Last year the mood was optimistic. This year kinda grim. I haven't heard ONE WORD about the Ottawa Occupy...I'll have to look into it and see if they did anything yesterday.

Take care.
Okay, I checked Google and there was a substantial gathering in Ottawa. No violence reported. The news should cover it more today - at least the papers.
I'm an older activist and found myself going the night Scott Olsen was shot, because my son was there! I was so shocked at how militarized the Oakland Police Dept. and affiliates were. I too go dreading it but knowing that it's not right to become afraid of using our constitutional rights. I've written letters in my own name and feel that we must stand up and hold them accountable...The OPD is creating a group of our young people that come to demos expecting to be met with all the force we've used in Iraq. They are right. I've see them grab the skinniest kids & beat them. I hope others join us. I feel like I'm getting PTSD...May we stay safe.
I'm an older activist and found myself going the night Scott Olsen was shot, because my son was there! I was so shocked at how militarized the Oakland Police Dept. and affiliates were. I too go dreading it but knowing that it's not right to become afraid of using our constitutional rights. I've written letters in my own name and feel that we must stand up and hold them accountable...The OPD is creating a group of our young people that come to demos expecting to be met with all the force we've used in Iraq. They are right. I've see them grab the skinniest kids & beat them. I hope others join us. I feel like I'm getting PTSD...May we stay safe.
Algis- Thanks so much for your kind words and support.
Zachery- I'm glad the protests happened, it was just greatly disheartening to experience the OPD yesterday. Thanks for your well thought out comments, I had not considered the timing of the suprise presidential visit,
Myriad- Thanks for the comments and the info about Ottawa. I neglected to mention that there were Occupy May Day actions in over 100 cities, and from what reports I've seen, most were peaceful, or at least a lot of them were.
msmattiem- Yes, I've seen the skinniest small kids who've been harmed by the police. It's painful sometimes, but like you, I'm stubborn about constitutional rights, both mine and others. Plus I still believe in Occupy. And yes, I think a lot of us are getting some at least minor form of PTSD. Thanks for your comments.
The near-totalitarian way that striking workers are being treated all over the country, and have been in any labor action over the last five years or so, is the most underreported story. No, correction: it's just plain invisible. That is, it's invisible in the "official" media. Almost everybody knows. that obviously workers have no real rights anymore. The system has totally failed, and nobody up top wants to admit it.

Into the streets, people. There's no relief at the ballot box anymore. The election is a joke.

Rated.
It can be disheartening, but this has been going on for a very long time. Back and forth, the powerful versus the rest of us, the ultimate tug-of-war. May you find your feet again.
rate
I was thinking about you yesterday, thinking you would be out for the day covering what was happening. I'm with you 100% re: those final paragraphs. Thanks for all your great coverage and effort as usual, Kevin.
Thank you for this valuable reportage, Kevin. I know it's increasingly obvious that the forces against change are grim, ugly, and stubborn. Their whole purpose is to discourage us. That, after all, is their intent. The reality is ugly. But if we let them discourage us, then we have lost. As other comnentators have noted, the mistreatemnt of dissidents is not being reported in the MSM. You are one voice counteracting that pattern--and that alone makes your efforts valuable and meaningful to many of us. [r]
Nothing like some good old police thuggery to get the old blood pressure going.
Kevin~ you are so true!! I always love what you write! Keep the faith, brother....