Oakland PD's surveillance center's primary purpose is fighting protesters, not crime


When you criminalize protesting, only criminals will have protests.

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Interesting subtext here. Clearly, protests that do no physical harm can still cause significant amounts of economic damage to opponents and to economic “bystanders” (I’ve heard anecdotally about a NY restaurant that went out of business because the occupy protests were preventing any customers from reaching it. Which even if false is a reasonable example of what could happen.) Should such protests always be protected/lauded as free speech, or does the government at some point have a responsibility to act on behalf of those who are being harmed by the protests? Does it matter if those being harmed are upright or shady?

Ain’t nothin’ like the naked display of law enforcement working at the behest of capitalism at the expense of the Constitution. Ciminey.

The Patriotic Libertarian strain in me says hell to the no. The risk you take opening your business in a nation that respects free speech is that sometimes, you’re going to be inconvenienced by it. As a restaurant owner, I might be annoyed, but I have no inherent legal right to make a profit, and they do have the legal right to peaceful assembly, so the only thing I can really do is what I can to turn the protesters into customers (and maybe hire some security guys / bathroom cleaning staff).

If this is a thing that is at risk of happening enough, there should be a healthy market in selling insurance to people who are afraid of protests losing them business. I wish I lived in that world.


The Gov has a responsibility to act on behalf of it’s people, including those dirty, nasty protesters. If the government had acted then maybe there would have been far less likelihood of full blown, out of control protests in the first place. If the government isn’t constantly in the habit of ignoring what it doesn’t like to hear, usually at the whims of those few with vested interest, then maybe there would be no need for protest. If the government acted on the complaints of many and heard their voices then perhaps there would be no need for protest.

So, it’s a shame that businesses are affected by this, perhaps those affected should consider suing the government for dereliction of duty.


Protests are symptoms; the tea party and occupy movements may be very different political movements, but if you think back to their origins, both were triggered by the same economic disaster and outrage at the same betrayal of public interest. A responsible government would care about the causes.


It surprises me a little that we’re not hearing more about how Occupy and the Tea Party (and the establishment Left and Right reactions to them) are actually based in economic concerns, not political concerns. Their complaints are similar. The problem is identified. The class struggle is on. But the two can’t unite against their oppressors because of the political party binary. I want to vote for someone who protects domestic manufacturing jobs with their right hand and who wants to tax stock sales with their left hand and who wants to smash the surveilence complex with both hands.


Yup. But it’ll never happen. Occupy is channeled toward socialism, Tea Party is channeled toward Fascism.


Ain’t nobody channeled towards ‘socialism’ anymore. That’s a 19th century idea that fell apart in the 20th. Isn’t it about time we started talking about ideas rooted in the 21st?

Slapping a 19th century label on a 21st century problem is just intellectual laziness at this point.

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Protesting is a crime, therefore fighting protesters is fighting crime.


A lot of work was done to keep those two groups apart. As a long time small “L” libertarian, I was disturbed at just how much work Reason magazine spent pushing the idea that they had nothing in common, when they were both a reaction to the wall street bailouts (tea party got hijacked to crazy town).

Man, I wish Occupy was channeled toward socialism. But they all own iPhones and take out student loans and there’s not one among them who would shut down a mall just for existing.

And the “Get the government out of my medicare!” Tea Partiers don’t seem too fascist to me…

I think by a large margin, most of America is pretty cool with a market economy. The idea of starting a business and working hard and lifting yourself up economically are all totally in line with typical American mythos. And we’re also pretty cool with the independence that requires/represents. The more crucial failing of Occupy is an inability to organize that comes with a suspicion of authority, and the more crucial failing of the Tea party is naked, proud ignorance (both of which are grand American traditions dating back to Plymouth Rock!).

But both Occupy and the Tea Party are manifestations of a class of people who know they’ve been cheated. One just thinks the business community is the only cheat. The other thinks the government is the only cheat. The reality is that they’re colluding. Which this article dramatically highlights.

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“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Jonathan Jackson, Oct. 2, 1789


Those Oakland protesters are out of control. Remember when that “peacefully protesting war veteran” Scott Olsen obstructed the trajectory of a lawfully-fired tear gas canister with his skull? Imagine how terrifying that must have been for the OPD.


It’s not just Occupy, which by now is only one of a long string of Oakland street protests. I was at Occupy Oakland, and Occupy UC Berkeley. What started out hopeful and exciting in Oakland soon was ruined by “black bloc” types (mostly from Berkeley, I might add) with the political awareness of a cherrystone clam. They only wanted to fuck shit up, and drove away everyone (like me) who believed that non-violent resistance was the only effective tactic. (Add to that the still-screwed-up culture of the Oakland PD and it’s guaranteed disaster.) No matter what city officials did or didn’t do during Occupy, there was absolutely no chance that it wouldn’t have grown into a violent street battle, because that’s what the black bloc people came for. Once they finished harassing all the peaceful Occupy folks into giving up and leaving, they had the riot they wanted from the get-go.

And now every time a protest arises in Oakland, they show up just to fuck shit up. When they bust out the windows of the Oakland School for the Arts (where my daughter was), what the hell are they protesting? Teaching the arts to marginalized urban youth? At least at Occupy Wall Street they were yelling at the right buildings.

What exactly do you think that the Oakland city government, one of the most liberal in the country, who have worked for 20 years to rebuild downtown Oakland (which no longer looks like a bombed out Beirut as it did in the 1990s) should have done differently to keep Berkeley pseudo-anarchists from heading down Telegraph Avenue for a fun day of stickin’ it to da man? (“Da man” being Black-owned businesses, urban public schools, and that source of all things eeeevil, Starbucks.)

We Oaklanders eagerly await your sage advice.

Libertarian principles say you can do what you want so long as others aren’t harmed. We generally assume that speech causes no (true) harm so should not be restricted. But as I said above, speech “at scale” can cause harm—so at this point, is it wrong? Do libertarian principles side with the person who is being harmed by said speech?

Sure, but theft (and murder) are often symptoms as well (of our inequitable economic system, or our poor treatment of mental health issues). That doesn’t mean we stop worrying about them; it means we need to think about addressing the symptoms and the causes. Fever is usually just a symptom, but if you do nothing about it you can die.

Berkeley PD you mean?

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So socialists don’t get to own iPhones or other technology?

Don’t tell the Scandinavians.

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Perhaps listen to the protesters instead of just throwing cops at them?

  • Another Oaklander