Oakland’s Government Can’t Defeat the Struggle for Justice against Police killings

Unresolved OPD Shooting of Black Teenager Alan Blueford Illustrates Oakland’s Continuing Crisis of Governance

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

By Scott Johnson, TruthOut

Every member of the large and close knit family of Alan Dwayne Blueford who could spoke truth to power at the Oakland City Council meeting on May 15 in support of justice for their slain loved one, who was gunned down on May 6 by one of the OPD’s paid killers behind the badge, Miguel Masso. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

After seeking justice from the City of Oakland for months, the family of Alan Blueford finally caught the attention of city leaders on September 18 when their protest brought the City Council to a halt.

Alan, an African-American high school student, was murdered on May 6 by Officer Miguel Masso, who drove up on the young man who had committed no crime, chased him for five blocks and shot him dead outside a Cinco de Mayo party. Masso initially claimed that Alan shot him, a story spread by the local media, although when it was revealed that Masso actually shot himself this lie turned into the claim that Alan pointed a gun at the officer. The Bluefords refute even this claim, considering Masso’s earlier lie.

Since May, the Bluefords have demanded that Masso be fired and prosecuted and that stop-and-frisk and racial profiling practices be ended among Oakland police. The elected leadership of Oakland have largely ignored these requests outside of a handful of closed door meetings where the Bluefords were promised a timely investigation and no slandering of Alan in the press. Neither promise was kept.

The Bluefords arrived at the September 18 City Council meeting with over 100 supporters to speak during open comments, recounting not only their heartbreak but also the endless unkept promises from the city and OPD. “I just want to know what happened to my son,” Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, both begged and demanded of the Council.

The Councilmembers, typically masters of evasion who are usually absorbed in their cell phones and magazines during public comments, suddenly all sat upright at full attention. Once it was clear the Bluefords were not going to walk away quietly without answers, City Administrator Deanna Santana went scurrying to find something to offer the Bluefords. Finally, it was announced that OPD Chief Howard Jordan was on his way to City Hall with the police report in hand – after refusing to release it for months.

This promise also evaporated within the hour after the Bluefords refused yet another closed-door meeting with Jordan, insisting he address the public in order to be held accountable. With no sign of either Jordan or the report, the Council attempted to resume with its first order of business – passing a resolution declaring Oakland an International City of Peace. This absurd resolution, from a city internationally known for the murder of Oscar Grant and the repression of Occupy Oakland, led to chants of “No Justice No Peace” and “Howard is a coward!” from both the Bluefords and the audience, many of whom were beaten and tear-gassed during those two movements. Continue reading

Oakland’s Dirty War: Coercive Attrition and the Occupy Movement

January 09, 2012
by GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER, Counterpunch

As winter sets in, the Occupy Movement nationwide confronts a new series of challenges. Conspiring with the weather, however, is the threat of a shifting policing model currently being tested out in Oakland.

Coercive Attrition

The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci spoke of a distinction between “war of position” and “war of maneuver,” between those gradual and occasionally imperceptible political struggles that occur every day and the frontal attack on power toward which they eventually build. While this distinction is necessary, it should not be overstated, and nor can we associate the war of position too directly with ideological struggle and war of maneuver with direct military attacks on and by the coercive apparatus of the state. Recent events in Oakland and the strategy of coercive attrition directed against the Occupy Movement make perfectly clear just how insufficient such a correlation would be.

Recent weeks have seen the Occupy Movement confronted with a war of attrition nationwide: as cold weather sets in, many cities have opted to wait out the movement, allowing excitement to fade and the movement to devour itself in the petty squabbles of disempowerment. Often, though, this strategy of passive attrition operates alongside a more aggressive approach. In Philadelphia, for example, a hands-off approach to the now-decamped Occupy Philly operates in tandem with ferocity toward those who step out of line in a transparent attempt to bully radicals into submission (as with the case of two housing activists currently facing multiple felonies).

But it is in Oakland more than anywhere else that friendly weather and sustained militancy have given rise to a different approach, one similarly premised on chipping away at the movement through attrition and fatigue but doing so in a far more repressive manner. One key ingredient to this peculiar constellation of forces is the empty vessel perched atop the city government: Mayor Jean Quan. Quan was discredited long ago and from all sides, hated by the left for unleashing the near fatal attacks on Occupy Oakland in October, and by the right (represented by OPD and the City Council) for not taking a harder line. Now, having opted to vacillate rather than stand on the side of history, she will simply be hoping to serve out her term and avoid an embarrassing recall campaign.

This vacillation has been nowhere clearer than on the question of the epic Port Shutdowns on November 2nd and December 12th, the first of which catapulted Occupy Oakland to the forefront of the national movement, and the second of which demonstrated a capacity for coordinated militancy not seen in this country for decades at least. Since it was Quan who took the heat for the unrestrained actions of police in October, one could hardly blame the Mayor for hesitating to unleash OPD and other forces against those blocking the port. But when Quan suggested that the city might not be able to prevent future shutdowns of the port, her critics in City Council found powerful echo in Governor Jerry Brown. But for now at least, OPD’s hands are at least partially tied, and the full-on assaults of many an officer’s dream go unfulfilled for now.

Blocked from engaging in a brutal war of maneuver, OPD’s strategy has been a different one, and what remains of Occupy Oakland’s presence in Oscar Grant Plaza has seen small raids with a handful of arrests several times a week. While some interpret this half-heartedness by the forces of order as a sign of impotence, the frequency, the timing, and the serious charges incurred in the raids speak to a more sinister strategy. Continue reading

Occupy Oakland: Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza evicted; rally at 4 pm for next steps

Police peacefully evict Occupy Oakland tent city

By Hannah Dreier, Oakland Tribune, 11/14/2011

OAKLAND — In an early morning raid, police peacefully evicted the Occupy Oakland camp that has been pitched outside of City Hall for more than a month.

Lines of police in riot gear closed in around 5 a.m. on hundreds of protesters who had gathered at Frank H. Ogawa plaza in anticipation of the eviction.

By the time Mayor Jean Quan toured through two hours later, there was nothing to see but collapsed tents and abandoned signs.

Quan’s chief legal adviser Dan Siegel resigned the night before, citing his disagreement with the coming police raid.

Many occupiers had packed up their tents before the eviction, disheartened but vowing to return. They plan to rally at 4 p.m. in front of the main branch of the Oakland Public Library. Continue reading