Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Oakland Oppression – Unanticipated 500th Post

I realize that this is a second post in one day. I always anticipated a celebratory post for Left Coast Voice’s 500th post. Maybe a nostalgic look back on the last two years that this blog has existed.

But I am listening to live reporting from the Occupy Wall Street protests in Oakland. There is something ironic that a country who is trying to architect democracy and freedom in the Middle East and Africa, cannot tolerate the assembly of their own citizens to express discontent.

Freedom of expression is integral to democracy. We all applauded a Chinese student who stood in front of the tanks Beijing‘s Tienanmen Square and other peaceful demonstrations, not least what has been coined the Arab Spring.

Whatever the legalities of lawful assembly in Oakland, and I am no lawyer, when the police open fire with rubber bullets and gas on children and people in wheelchairs, the machine is truly broken. People coming together to demonstrate remains a powerful expression of communal freedom.

Whether you agree or disagree with the protestors, and the 99% message is pretty clear, the right of people to organize, whether they are Occupy Wall Street or Tea Party activists, is an integral part of a democracy.

At a time when the US is working so hard to influence nations around the world who have thrown off the chains of their oppressors to choose the road of democracy, what is the message that they are hearing from Oakland?

As one man just said on the radio – my faith is just shattered right now. Hoping that Left Coast Voice’s 1,000th  post will be of a more hopeful world.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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4 thoughts on “Oakland Oppression – Unanticipated 500th Post

  1. Alon, this is so awful I just can’t describe it. I’m only thankful that it was all caught on video from many different sources so as to expose the truth.

    I’ll have plenty to say about all this when I can digest it all.

  2. I’m so pissed right now I can’t even express thoughts. A nation of brainwashed hypocrites. Sorry but I’m pissed!

  3. Alon: I went to the OccupyOakland general assembly on Wednesday night, and it was astounding to be with 3,000 people, many of whom had seen violence the night before, almost all in accordance with how to move forward by discussing the pros and cons of a general strike to be held on Nov 2. There will be another meeting tonight to discuss details of the strike. I left soon after the vote, and had no trouble getting on the BART, but I did notice that the train to SF was not stopping. By the time I got back to Berkeley, I saw many tweets telling me the 12th St station was closed. To my shock, when the Channel 7 news came on, I saw film of throngs of people on the streets of Oakland, once again. I did not hear one word about the almost FOUR HOURS in which the general assembly met listening to speakers and chanting their remarks back, phrase by phrase to be sure everyone heard and understood what was going on. Instead, Channel 7 replayed the footage of Tuesday night’s violence and added to the public’s anxiety. Many thanks to our citizen reporters for trying to keep the record straight. Strike! Strike! Strike!

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