Oakland, the Last Refuge of Radical America

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  1. American_Jihad
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    Oakland, the Last Refuge of Radical America

    By JONATHAN MAHLER
    Published: August 1, 2012

    The Anti-Capitalist Brigade started gathering early on May Day at Oakland’s Snow Park. There was free coffee, oatmeal, doughnuts, fliers with the day’s agenda and plenty of pot. A “street medic” — “I just finished a wilderness first-aid course,” he told me when I asked about his training — tended to his first case of the day, a man in his 20s whose leg had been beaten to a purple hue with a metal rod in an overnight fight in the park. Nearby, an organizer reminded protesters to take down the toll-free number for the National Lawyers Guild: “This is important. Do not put it in your cellphones, because if you get arrested, the cops will take those away. Write it on your bodies. In indelible ink. There are Sharpies on the table.”

    No central action was planned. A coalition of labor unions had asked Occupy Oakland, with its proven ability to turn out large numbers of militant activists, to blockade the Golden Gate Bridge, but then withdrew the request at the last minute. Instead, thousands of Occupy protesters met at various “strike stations” and fanned out into the streets with shields and gas masks (or the homemade alternative: bandannas soaked in vinegar), transforming downtown Oakland into a roving carnival of keyed-up militants of every shape and size: graduate students, tenured professors, professional revolutionaries, members of the Black Bloc, dressed like ninjas, their faces obscured.

    Joints were passed, but this was not a mellow crowd. A barefoot man known as Running Wolf grabbed an American flag from outside a popular cop bar and dragged it behind him. Packs of protesters charged into businesses, overturning tables, shattering windows and smashing A.T.M.’s. An activist spray-painted vulgarities on the window of a Bank of America branch. The Menace was loose again, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote about a different group of rabble-rousers, the Hell’s Angels. This riot had a soundtrack, too, a cacophony of chants — “Strike! Take Over!” and “Take Back Oakland! Kick Out the Yuppies!” — overlaid with beating snare drums and the rhythmic thump-thumping of the police and news helicopters hovering overhead.

    Many businesses were closed, less in solidarity with May Day than out of fear of reprisal from protesters. The rumored targets weren’t just the big corporations, but smaller shops that were the quarry of the so-called antigentrification brigade. In an Occupy Oakland twist on the “Soul Brother” signs that shopkeepers used during the race riots of the 1960s, Awaken, an upscale cafe and art gallery, had plastered its windows with signs reading: “We are Oakland. We are the 99%.”

    As the swarm made its way down Broadway, shouting, pounding on windows and throwing bottles at stores, two Asian immigrants hastily boarded up their small, sad-looking beauty-supply store. When I tried to talk to one of them, he shooed me away — “Too busy” — and reached for another board.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/magazine/oakland-occupy-movement.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

    [​IMG]

    I"d love to occupy his ass with my boot...

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