3 February 2012

Oakland Cops Attack Occupy Protesters, Again

JANUARY 30—Two days ago, the Oakland Police Department (OPD)—aided by 14 other police agencies—turned downtown streets into a virtual war zone, firing tear gas, smoke bombs, flash-bang grenades and “less lethal” beanbag and rubber bullets at Occupy Oakland demonstrators. The protesters had assembled to take over an abandoned building and turn it into a neighborhood community center. By the end of the night, the cops, with batons swinging, had trapped hundreds of protesters outside a downtown YMCA. In total, some 400 people were arrested, many for “failure to disperse,” even as the trapped demonstrators were chanting, “Let us leave!” A 19-year-old woman was hospitalized with internal bleeding after being beaten by the cops. Free the protesters! Drop all the charges!

At a press conference the next day, Democratic mayor Jean Quan denounced the protesters as “violent” while City Council member Ignacio De La Fuente accused them of engaging in “domestic terrorism.” Coming in the wake of Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act, which enshrines into law the indefinite detention of American citizens, this is a deadly serious charge.

It is the OPD that terrorizes the streets of Oakland, attacking protesters, occupying the ghettos and gunning down blacks and other minorities with impunity. The brutality of the OPD is so notorious that it is being threatened with federal receivership. This stems from the nearly decade-old settlement of the infamous Oakland “Riders” case, where a murderous gang of cops (named after the KKK nightriders) was unleashed on the West Oakland ghetto as part of the racist “war on drugs.”

Such federal interventions are not about “justice”; they are a con game designed to clean up the image of the police. As a Bay Area Spartacus Youth Club comrade underlined at an October 29 Occupy Oakland rally held to protest the police attack that left Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen fighting for his life (see WV No. 990, 11 November 2011): “Along with the courts, prisons and military, the cops make up the armed fist of the state, which defends the property and profits of the capitalist ruling class. Cops are not workers, they are strikebreakers. They shot Oscar Grant down in cold blood. Cops are not potential allies, they are our enemy.”

Addressing the populist politics of the Occupy movement, our comrade continued:

“The slogan ‘We are the 99 percent’ actually blurs the class line and disguises the class nature of the capitalist state and all its political parties....

“The current economic crisis has sparked the mass protests. But to actually end exploitation and oppression, you have to do something fundamentally different. We are fighting to build a multiracial revolutionary workers party that will lead the workers in smashing the capitalist state, expropriating the banks and corporations and building a socialist world in which those who labor rule.” 

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 995, 3 February 2012)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.