Oakland is a city with an inferiority complex: it has been in the shadow of San Francisco forever and is now outshined by San Jose, of all places. I say that because San Jose was a smallish semi-rural town when I was growing up. That was, of course, before the tech boom. Oakland remains best known for Gertrude Stein’s wisecrack: “there is no there, there.”
Police and protesters scuffled in the streets of Oakland on Tuesday as more than 1,000 people marched on city hall to voice anger over scores of arrests at an “Occupy Wall Street” camp.Police dispersed the crowd once with what appeared to be a stun grenade and several other times set off tear gas to drive the demonstrators away from a downtown plaza that had been at the center of the conflict.
Witnesses reported seeing several people taken into custody during the confrontations, but an Oakland police spokeswoman said the department would not confirm any Tuesday night arrests until Wednesday.
Protest leaders said the march aimed at reclaiming Frank Ogawa Plaza, which had served as a base for two weeks of protests against economic inequality in the city until police cleared it before dawn by firing beanbags and tear gas.
Ain’t leadership grand? I got a whiff of tear gas many years ago in (where else?) Athens when the cops busted up a protest rally at Syntagma Square near the parliament. The more things change and all that shit.
I’m not sure where the #occupy protests go from here but I must admit to being surprised by their staying power. They’ve stuck it out much longer than expected and, if nothing else, came up with the catchy slogan about the 99%. The problem in America is that a good slice of the population wants to be a part of the 1% and doesn’t give a shit about the folks they left behind. Some call it American exceptionalism, I call it American selfishness.