Editor's notes

Hey Oakland, maybe you should just hand over the Convention Center

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(13)

tredmond@sfbg.com

I used to go to Grateful Dead shows at the Oakland Auditorium, which is now called the Kaiser Convention Center. One night I saw Bill Graham, the late concert promoter, ride a zip line from up near the ceiling to the stage in a giant paper mache joint called the "S.S. Columbian," which looked like it was going to fall apart at any minute as he swung back and forth 50 feet over the crowd, trying to smile and wave in a bizarre promotional stunt that confused even the deadheads. I bet he shit his pants.

The place was a pretty good venue for a big concert, but it never worked out as a convention center, and the city shut it down in 2005. It needs seismic work and about $5 million in maintenance. It sits near Lake Merritt, on the edge of downtown Oakland, a giant empty building just waiting for something to happen to it.

It's a perfect spot for an Occupy Oakland headquarters. I'm surprised it took the Occupy folks this long to figure it out.

Look: Oakland's a working-class city, and it's having severe financial problems, and sending hundreds of cops to arrest Occupy protesters is sucking up money that's desperately needed for other things. Mayor Jean Quan complains that police were unable to respond to emergency calls in other parts of the city because they were all downtown dealing with the demonstration.

Understood — and it's clear that the Oakland Police, whether the Occupy folks like it or not, are going to arrive in mass numbers to make sure that there's no damage to local businesses or City Hall (where, oddly, there were no arrests, because the cops were elsewhere).

But the empty Kaiser Center, which isn't even in the downtown center? Why bother?

Seriously: Why not just give it to Occupy Oakland? Tell the group that the city will strictly enforce fire and health codes, that the Occupy people will have to clean the place up and keep it clean, that they can't damage the place ... and hand over the keys?

It's public property. Nobody using it now. Occupy might actually bring some excitement to the scene. If it became a center for political meetings and organizing, for education and performances, it could be a be a very positive thing.

Declare at truce in the Occupy wars. Let the cops go after murderers; give Occupy the vacant convention center. Nothing else is working. It's worth a try.

Comments

Tim,

You do not realize to which Occupy is an existential threat to the 1% and the law has been handed down from the feds that it is to be squashed at all costs.

Even if Oakland's political leaders wanted to give Occupy the Convention Center, and their City Council has a conservative majority and Jean Quan is as weak as dishwater, so that won't happen, the feds would not let that happen.

The material conditions that led to the rise of Occupy have not gone anywhere, in fact the grabs by the 1% since last fall have only accelerated. As soon as the weather warms up so will Occupations.

Localities are under orders to repress the Occupation. It does not matter whether the Occupiers are the curious Oakland blacque bloque that looks more like a vanguard Communist party of yesteryear gearing up for the final conflict on J28 on the left, the failed nonprofit/labor coalition of J20 on the right, or the normal broad base of Occupiers, the response will be the same.

The only choice is to take steps that grow the movement, and the best way for that to happen is for the normal occupiers to marginalize the Fringie McFringersons on the left and right so that the message that resonates with the 99% can dominate and increase numbers.

As in previous mass mobilizations in SF, Gulf War I or AB-101 riots in 1991, the cops become marginalized and meaningless if there are enough people on the streets.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 6:55 am

The 1% is not worried by the OWS movement. As long as people are out "demonstrating" then "democracy" is shown as working. The Occupy Oakland folks should take a lesson from Oakland Originals such as Huey Newton and take their Occupy movement to the places where the REALLY marginalized citizens live, ask them what they can do. Start after school education programs in East and West Oakland, make upscale "farmers" markets serve in those same neighborhoods. I believe that people with a good heart can have a much better effect on Oakland then the laundry list of politicians, police officers, civil servants. In stead of creating more demand for oppressive measures on the civilians, create a supply of good will and show the world that people are people and there is NO need for outside arbitrary powers. i.e. the police department, the city "planners" etc.
As long as you call people names and sling mud you are just where "they" want you to be. If prisons are bad keep your OWS people out of them, if police are corrupt show the world what honesty really is, if the media smears OWS serve the people who "watch" the media. It seems that OWS falls right in line with every other major call to economic equality such as the Poor People's Campaign.
I wish for an end to the violence at OWS both on the part of police and on the part of protesters. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and hug the lonely. We are all elements of the same environment.

S.

Oakland Native

Posted by Guest: S. on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 9:36 am

Fear is demonstrated by the the fact that the state sees no chance of cooptation so it resorts to repression.

The accuracy of the choice of target is demonstrated by the increased level of brutality used to repress.

Black Panthers were killed for starting community empowerment programs to feed kids.

The hippies returned to the land and that grounded out their movement.

Once the winter thaws, Occupy will return. The material conditions have not changed, the cans are still being kicked down the roads.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

By choice of target I meant Wall Street and the 1% not the Kaiser Center in Oakland.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

By increased violence I assume your speaking of the attack dogs and fire hoses of the civil rights movement or possibly the use of high powered rifles at Kent State.
By no means to I attempt contest the fact that police brutality exists but I fail to see the connection between the use of force to disperse the predominately white OWS protesters and the marginalization of minorities in and around their homes.
Excuse my sarcasm for I am a bit disillusioned by many of Occupy Oakland's antics and how they reflect upon the city and those who call it home. I understand the issue of Corporate Media skewing many of the facts but this is to be expected and to be planned around. We need to be creating social change and not asking for it. This is our world and we are all responsible for what happens in it.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said "Be the change you wish to see in the world"

S.

Posted by Guest: S. on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

Right on, S!

Posted by Oaklander on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 9:46 am

This is just nutty. Even your whackiest ideas are generally couched in some sort of progressive theory or utopian concept.

But letting folks just claim property? Geez. Modern land repatriation in other parts of the world has proven to be an utter disaster - destroying governments, economies, industries, cultures, and on...

And you propose this as a way to manage a shifting, aimless mass of vandalizing protesters? How long before that building becomes just as dangerous and abused as the Occupy camps were becoming?

C'mon man.

Occupy's challenge is that their tactics reinforce the negative images rather than their message. The idea that confronting the cops is going to persuade middle class America to make a mass change in how we manage our personal finances, retirement and public economies is just ludicrous.

And any student of government will tell you that EVERY real revolution, throughout history, was the result of middle class participation and that, with the occasional exception for human rights, the motivator for the middle class revolt is personal finance and economic fairness ("no taxation without representation").

The irony is that all the pieces are here for that kind of change. The problem is Occupy itself. From what I see and read, the members are young, without capital in the form of cash, property or retirement, and lack a broad understanding of our financial system. So you have a group of people who have no real financial cards trying to force everyone else to change their minds on our economy without offering a real alternative.

It's like the person who wants to be governor but never votes.

I like some of what I've heard from Occupy but these confrontations and claiming property (is my mom's house next?) hardly instills confidence that Occupy can lead the sort of change they are demanding. At the very least, I can't imagine putting myself into economic uncertainty by supporting a group that doesn't have an alternate plan.

Any energetic dickhead can climb a mountain. The challenge is getting down safely. Same goes for invading countries, getting pregnant and starting revolutions.

This isn't about messaging or organizing but about the root goal of a movement. Either you want to achieve something tangible or you're an academic.

Posted by BeckyBayside on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 10:54 am

Perfect.

The occupy gang seems to think that dropping out of the system, then lecturing everyone on how it should be run is high logic.

Posted by guest on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

TO be fair, OO, is the outlier in the Occupy movement because of its abundance of "seasoned activists."

Occupy has been successful because the people have been way out front of the activists. Unable to accept this arrangement, the "seasoned activists" have been scurrying to get out in front of the people.

Occupy is a patriotic populist movement, something which the blacque bloque or the sectarian left simply cannot stomach.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

Stay on your side of the bay, Tim.

The SFBG analysis of Oakland is always faulty because they don't pay much attention to us, and when they hire freelancers, they pay humiliatingly low rates that basically create 10 dollar an hour journalism.

Maybe that's why Tim is pushing such a stupid idea.

Hey: If Occupy Oakland was stupid enough to think they could successfully take the Kaiser building, stupid enough to get corralled and stuck in Laney College and split up, stupid enough to fail to keep their target a secret... Maybe they're too stupid to manage a giant building and community center without it all going straight to hell.

But that isn't even the point. What really happened was that a bunch of radical anarchist assholes deliberately chose an impossible target in order to start a street fight, and they didn't care how many pawns got hurt.

Tim, take the "bay" out of your publication's name. You haven't earned the clout to cover anything outside of SF.

Posted by Oakster on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

By increased violence I assume your speaking of the attack dogs and fire hoses of the civil rights movement or possibly the use of high powered rifles at Kent State.
By no means to I attempt contest the fact that police brutality exists but I fail to see the connection between the use of force to disperse the predominately white OWS protesters and the marginalization of minorities in and around their homes.
Excuse my sarcasm for I am a bit disillusioned by many of Occupy Oakland's antics and how they reflect upon the city and those who call it home. I understand the issue of Corporate Media skewing many of the facts but this is to be expected and to be planned around. We need to be creating social change and not asking for it. This is our world and we are all responsible for what happens in it.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said "Be the change you wish to see in the world"

S.

Posted by Guest: S. on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

Tim,

This is actually a pretty good idea. Of course, it'll probably never happen, which is a shame, but it is a good idea.

Posted by RamRod on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

It seems to me like the purpose of the "protest" was to start a riot. What rock did the leaders climb out from under to think they could take over the Kaiser Convention Center and the city and the police would say "go ahead." Then to complain that the expected conclusion happened, oops I misplaced my tiny violin. Really I think the only reason the riot causing planners are complaining is they did not get the masses in to really start a riot. Maybe because the 409,000 people who actually live in Oakland are not seeing the "anarchist" behavior as worthy or riots as a reasonable solution to the financial and class problems that exist today. Once again we get the idiots from other areas coming into our city to cost us lots of money as they vandalize and try and start altercations.

They are claiming to speak for the 99%; yet if they had any knowledge about how to endear themselves to the majority of American citizens they would not have trashed the city center and they certainly would not have lit an American flag on fire. That is what the news will show across the country. People will just think it is those nutty Bay Area people again, those communists, those liberals... The viewers will not realize that probably none of the people who trashed the city center even live in Oakland and are a fringe group in occupy, it will be the picture the majority has about the occupy movement: those crazy people who do not value our country and burn our flag. How idiotic.

Someone Who Lives in Oakland

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 9:41 pm