Del Beccaro, a resident of the Bay Area, finds himself bewildered by Quan’s attempts to “fan the flames” of unrest in Oakland. He characterizes the state of Oakland as “just sad,” afflicted with 15 percent unemployment, dysfunctional and corrupt government, and appalling rates of crime. That’s why the mayor’s office has attempted to portray Wednesday night’s events as successful work by her office.
Following the night’s chaos, Mayor Quan has refused to confront an angry and frightened Oakland public, but her office did release a summary of the events, beginning triumphantly: “Yesterday, the City of Oakland facilitated a long day of primarily peaceful protests with some isolated incidents of violence and vandalism” (note that she refuses specific credit to the police, the city workers tasked with controlling the mess she had instigated).
The isolated violence extended all the way to a gathering of thousands to close the Port of Oakland, and isolated vandalism afflicted banks and businesses all across the city. Even Whole Foods, the favored grocer of the American Left, had its stores vandalized by protesters because they had refused to allow their employees to strike; they relented later in the day, after the protesters smashed store windows and harassed customers and employees.
Mayor Quan’s obvious affections for the far-left Occupy movement have endangered her city. Politicians elsewhere may admit that the Occupy movement has legitimate grievances, but only go so far as to allow them a reasonable, legal forum for airing them. On the farthest edge of America’s left coast, Jean Quan’s sympathy makes her loath to restrain the protests when they begin to descend into violence — suggesting that, to paraphrase Evelyn Waugh, protesters have the right to bear arms in any battle anywhere against the upper classes.
Conservatives have joked that President Obama is our “community-organizer-in-chief.” Oakland certainly has one for a mayor, whose political inclinations make her comfortable and even pleased promoting and facilitating civil unrest. Her refusal to acknowledge this has left her community very disorganized indeed.
— Patrick Brennan is a 2011 William F. Buckley Fellow.