Perhaps because the Occupy Oakland protests yesterday turned violent in and through the night, Pacific Time, the blogoshere hasn’t yet had much chance to react. (Michelle Malkin is the exception.) Yesterday’s events mark an important moment in the evolution of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and not just because of the fires, the clashes with police, or the violence against banks and other businesses. Occupy Oakland deliberately sought to shut down the one of the largest ports in the United States — and succeeded in doing so.
The New York Times is playing this story as a small number of people who turned to violence after a day of mostly peaceful protests. Yet the point is that those “peaceful” protesters were trying to shut down a major American port, disrupting our economy at a moment of weakness. Both violently and non-violently, Occupy Oakland’s actions were an attack on the economy by a movement that largely rejects our system.
Here’s an excerpt from a CBS story headlined “Occupy protests go from peace to ‘chaos:’”
Organizers in Oakland had viewed the day as a significant victory. Police said that about 7,000 people participated in demonstrations throughout the day that were peaceful except for a few incidents of vandalism.
One of the protest leaders, Boots Riley, touted the day as a success, saying “we put together an ideological principle that the mainstream media wouldn’t talk about two months ago.”
His comments came before a group of demonstrators moved to break into the Travelers Aid building in order to, as some shouting protesters put it, “reclaim the building for the people.”
Riley, whose anti-capitalist views are well-documented, considered the port shut down particularly significant for organizers who targeted it in an effort to stop the “flow of capital.” The port sends goods primarily to Asia, including wine as well as rice, fruits and nuts, and handles imported electronics, apparel and manufacturing equipment, mostly from Asia, as well as cars and parts from Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. An accounting of the financial toll from the shutdown was not immediately available.
The potential for the chaos that ultimately erupted was not something Riley wanted to even consider.
“If they do that after all this …” He paused, then added, “They’re smarter than that.”
But the peace that abided throughout the day, did not last into the night.
So an “anti-capitalist” leader of the demonstration did oppose the violence, but he also aimed to close the port of Oakland as part of an effort to jam up a system he hopes someday to overturn.
This early response to the Occupy protests by a blogger at the Chronicle of Higher Education is off-base in many respects, but gets one big point right: “We must end capitalism” has been the real point of the protests to date. Whether by shutting down a major American port or by violence in the streets, this is the message that unified the diverse tactics of Occupy Oakland last night.