Editor’s note: To get David Horowitz’s perspective on the OWS movement, see his lead feature in yesterday’s issue, Communism Reborn. For the whole story behind Occupy Wall Street and how this movement marks a new phase in the rebirth of the communist Left, read the new broadside by David Horowitz and John Perazzo, Occupy Wall Street: The Communist Movement Reborn. This essential pamphlet exposes the roots, leaders and hidden agendas of the radical movement and its war on capitalism and free societies.
More than 400 Occupy Wall Street protesters in Oakland were arrested after a wild night of violence, vandalism, and confrontations with police. “Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares,” reports the New York Times. The rioters also broke into historic Oakland City Hall, smashing display cases, spray painting graffiti on the walls, cutting electrical wires, and with the crowd chanting “Burn it! Burn it!” set fire to an American flag. City authorities estimate that damages to city property amounts to about $5 million since the protests began last October.
A CNN headline reporting on the riot: “Occupy Oakland demonstrations, arrests inject new life into movement.” Perhaps this is true. But at the cost of rampaging rioters destroying public property? What kind of movement needs that kind of impetus to receive “new life”?
The Oakland riot is proof positive that whatever claim to innocence and idealism the movement purported in the early days of occupations around the country has been lost to the gimlet-eyed revolutionary left, now openly seeking violent confrontation with authorities using the bodies of the naive and foolish who still believe that OWS is a protest against income inequality and corporatism. Cadres of organized leftists came prepared to the Oakland protest with homemade gas masks and shields – a clear indication that they fully expected to provoke a police response. Innocent protesters do not come armed with “bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares.” The transformation of the occupy movement from protest to “direct action” – the preferred tactic of the European Communist Left for generations – is nearly complete. There can be no sniveling denials from OWS apologists any more: The driving force behind the OWS movement – the goal of those who control the streets – is revolution and the overthrow of America’s capitalist system.
The mob action in Oakland occurred after authorities refused to allow the OWS demonstrators to make the Kaiser Convention Center their headquarters. Given the cavalier and negligent attitude toward health, safety, and sanitation at OWS sites around the country, it would seem logical that the authorities felt they had little choice but to deny the OWS use of any public venue that could degenerate into a cesspool of disease and crime.
The protesters refused to heed calls by police to back off and began to tear down barricades, destroy construction equipment and fencing, while refusing to disperse. Several hundred protesters then marched to the Oakland Museum of California where there were more arrests as the police tried to protect the priceless artifacts from potential vandalism.
Given what happened next, they were right to do so.
The mob moved on to City Hall where the protesters say they found a door ajar – which sounds fantastical – and police say the demonstrators broke in. A video purportedly shows an OWS demonstrator using a crowbar to pry the door open.
There is no argument about what happened when the protesters got inside the building.
A more than century-old architectural model of City Hall was damaged in its display case, electrical wires were cut, soda machines thrown to the floor, graffiti was sprayed on the walls, other display cases were smashed, windows were broken – a demonstration of lawlessness and lack of respect for property that even has some OWS leaders around the country saying it probably wasn’t a good idea.
Other OWS sympathizers took to the streets in “solidarity” with those arrested during the Oakland riot. CNN reports:
The mass arrests, described by police as the largest in city history, appear to have injected new life into the Occupy movement as protesters in a number of American and European cities took to the streets Sunday to express their solidarity with the Occupy Oakland group.
Marching in solidarity with rioters who took part in what one Oakland official referred to as “domestic terrorism,” is a curious way to demonstrate one’s peaceful intentions.
The mob then moved on to the YMCA where most of the arrests occurred. As expected, OWS blamed the police for everything. In statement issued after the riot and while city employees were wiping graffiti off the walls and sweeping the broken glass off the floor, OWS Oakland claimed:
“Contrary to their own policy, the OPD gave no option of leaving or instruction on how to depart,” the group said in a news release. “These arrests are completely illegal, and this will probably result in another class action lawsuit against the OPD, who have already cost Oakland $58 million in lawsuits over the past 10 years.”
One could speculate on how difficult it might be to “depart” an area that police have instructed protesters to leave. Obeying the law, turning around, and going home would probably have prevented one from being arrested – something that appears to have been beyond the capabilities of 400 or so demonstrators, according to OWS.
The occupy movement in Oakland was originally warmly embraced by city authorities, including Mayor Jean Quan who spoke glowingly of the movement’s objectives and even gave city employees time off to attend protests that shut down the Port of Oakland last fall after the demonstrators threatened violence against port employees. But as the weeks dragged on and the encampment in front of City Hall turned into a haven for crime and rats, draining the city’s budget and tying up police, Quan attempted to edge away from the increasingly violent occupation by forcing the closing of the tent city. This resulted in another riot and harsh criticism from other officials and the local media.
Now, Quan has fully reaped what she sowed. Like most Democrats around the country who initially praised the OWS movement to the skies, and now find themselves backing a revolution, Quan has placed herself in a difficult political situation. She has responded by harshly criticizing the group, saying that she will seek monetary damages from the organization and that protesters who are convicted will participate in “restorative justice” by cleaning up garbage in a nearby slum. She condemned OWS tactics, saying that they were “a constant provocation of the police with a lot of violence toward them” – an ironic statement considering the fact that Oakland’s police union sent the mayor a letter criticizing her for sending “mixed messages” on dealing with the OWS demonstrators.
What has the OWS movement cost the city? In dollar terms, at least $2 million in cleanup costs since October with at least that much in police overtime and other costs. And while police were busy trying to protect property from the modern day Vandals seeking to sack City Hall, there were 5 homicides over the weekend and responses to 911 calls were delayed, according to police. Police Chief Howard Jordan told the Los Angeles Times that “personnel and resources dedicated to Occupy reduce our ability to focus on public safety priorities.”
All of this does not bode well for cities caught in the OWS crosshairs. Matthew Vadum wrote in FPM about the planned demonstration in Chicago during the G-8 summit where the organizers, including OWS founders Adbusters, have all but openly called for violent confrontations with authorities during the meeting. Their violent rhetoric barely conceals their desire to force police to respond to their provocative tactics:
And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear [ellipses in original].
While there are no outright calls for violence, a reasonable person cannot mistake their intent.
Democratic politicians like Quan and President Obama will seek to use the rhetoric of the OWS movement without openly embracing the protesters. If Republicans are smart, they won’t let the Left get away with this subterfuge. It should be hammered home to voters between now and Election Day that the violence being perpetrated by OWS movements across the country is the result of a calculated effort to overthrow the existing order. And those who imitate the language of revolution – couching the violent rhetoric in terms of “fairness” or “income inequality” – should be called to account for aiding and abetting those who seek to destroy the essential character of the United States and replace it with ill-conceived ideas of “justice” and revolution.
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