Tomorrow, February 1, 2012, Occupy Colleges will participate in National Solidarity Day with Occupy Oakland, with a heavy heart but a decisive voice: Violence against unarmed activists – anywhere – is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. This call to action is a result of a day of police violence at Occupy Oakland’s January 29 rally where over 400 activists were arrested and many injured as waves of beatings, projectiles, tear gas and flash grenades were shot at unarmed activists.
Occupy Oakland was rallying in an attempt to seize a vacant building it hoped to transform into a haven for the homeless and a community hub. However, as activists neared the building, Oakland Police formed a line of defense around the abandoned dwelling and blocked any attempts of marching onward in any direction. A community was awakened and more activists joined the standoff, which inched forward only to be pushed back. Relations were peaceful until OPD decided to disperse the marchers with an excess of force and intimidation. Batons were used and tear gas was thrown before bullets were fired into this crowd of unarmed men and women. The scene played out again and again throughout the day as activists, whose only crime was an unyielding will to rally for a cause, were met by violence, more bullets, gas and flash grenades. At least one woman was shot unconscious during this attack. As activists surrounded her in order to protect and relocate her, OPD fired bullets and tear gas directly at them.
Since October 2011, the Oakland Police Department has arrested more than 600 Occupy activists. At least 400 activists were arrested on January 29 alone, including 7 members of the press when the OPD refused to honor press passes by several media members, again violating standard procedure.
OPD’s extreme measures are what has given the OPD notoriety among the citizens it is supposed to serve. Its civil rights violations predate Occupy Wall Street and include planting evidence, beating up and robbing suspects. As a result of these and other violations, OPD is currently serving a five-year consent decree, meaning its daily operations are under court supervision. Moreover, according to crowd management policy specifically implemented to address abuse of powers in the past, they must “use minimal amount of force and intimidation” when managing crowd control. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, a Berkley alumna with a history in activism herself, is the controversial and divisive mayor at the helm of the OPD and has been quoted as supporting and opposing Occupy Oakland all in the same month.
This call to action is in solidarity with Occupy Oakland and all city and campus Occupies across the nation who have been victim of police violence and intimidation tactics. It will include an all day strike, with protesting students gathering in a centrally located area on campus. This is a peaceful protest and all organizers are encouraged by Occupy Colleges to take the Pledge of Non-Violence.
Please log on to Occupy Colleges website for a list of participating schools, to register your school or to learn more about how to organize a group or event at your university.