by Jaime Omar Yassin – @hyphy_republic
Originally published on April 9, 2012
Yesterday was the first contentious General Assembly in a long while for Occupy Oakland. In the camp days, months ago, heated discourse was the norm for GA’s. The on-going need of sharing the camp, and the simmering stew of perspectives, experiences and ideologies that went into that process, created a vibrant, often antagonistic, and always informative, and unique political discourse not matched since.
Those days are over now, killed by an antagonistic mayor, violent and extra-legal police force and somnambulant, when not corrupt, city council. Occupy Oakland’s last ‘big’ action—the J28 building occupation—ended with a big bang of police brutality and missteps, which surprisingly created an environment and context of unification for those who were left standing in the rubble. Since then, the focus has been on repairing lines of communication, reflection, and expanding the role of Occupy Oakland as a amplifier of existing struggles—for prisoners, for local schools, for labor and the like. The reflection that emerged from J28 also created—in my opinion—Occupy Oakland’s single most spiritually gratifying experiences in the N.E.W Oakland barbecues. Working along side a community of organizers whose main previous link was contentiously struggling with each other for the political narrative of this nascent movement, was awesome and beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously; to the contrary, its been welcome and rewarding work.
At the same time, as the weather improves, and Occupation again becomes a realistic possibility, its also time to recall what spawned the idea of Occupation. Though confining the wildfire of resistance to 99 and 1 percent terrain has been a convenient discursive entry point, the field of antagonism towards government/corporate collusion is really much too small to describe the many paths that converged at Zucotti Park. Everyone knows by now that a large share of the usual suspects in the form of anarchists, socialists, communists and more generic “leftists” certainly heard the call. But many came to Occupy via the anti-war movement, after over a decade of humbling failures to influence the political process, and Democratic so-called allies. Some came after two decades of staggering anti-globalization and environmental movement losses, that saw one Democrat after another sing the praises of capital’s depleting strangle-hold throughout the planet. Others were life-long anti-poverty crusaders; fair housing advocates; feminists, racial justice advocates, class warriors . . .