Oakland police keep track of "anarchists"

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According to police, this crowd contains "10 anarchists"
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

Oakland Police Department's internal communications about the Occupy Oakland movement, which the Guardian obtained through the California Public Records Act, reveal interesting patterns of what officers deem important to note about protesters.

Officers’ reported observations of the crowd generally concern activity, movement, and sometimes mood. However, there are also mentions of the percieved political affiliations of protesters. In an Oct. 24 briefing, a plainclothes officer, having strolled through the encampment, reports that “the group is diverse, made up of persons including self proclaimed anarchists, labor unions, long term homeless individuals, special cause supporters and others.” 

But by Nov. 2, it seems, all other categories fall away and officers seem interested in reporting on only one perceived type of protester: anarchists. 

Police make several reports in the notes of where and when they’ve noticed “anarchists” or “anarchist behavior.” 

In activity logs reporting “major events” throughout Oct. 25, police include anarchist sightings in that category. In the afternoon, there is “black block (sic) spotted, approximately 12.”

When protesters briefly occupied the Travelers Aid Society building on Oct. 25, police reported “10 anarchists on the roof and inside.”

In an afternoon planning meeting Nov. 3, an officer describes the scene on the streets: “there have been reports that there were 5000 people with relatively no injuries. There seem to be people dressed in regular clothing displaying anarchist behavior.” 

A press release from Nov. 2 also states that "the Oakland Police Department has identified a small group of anarchists roaming through the crowds. OPD is focused on preventing illegal activity while affording the majority their rights to assemble and march."

It seems that those officers reporting on the crowd equate anarchists with illegal activity, and believe they can identify adherents to anarchism based on appearance and behavior.

Anarchism is a political ideology, and not illegal. Yet officers apparently count out individuals that they perceive as anarchists. 

While popular stereotypes associate illegal activity such as vandalism with anarchism, many who identify with anarchist principles have not broken laws in that fashion. In fact, these documents imply that police may be associated with another illegal activity; targeting some of those they protect and serve based on political belief.

Comments

Po-lice love Occupy.

Huge overtime pay opportunities!

(As we saw when Mayor Ed Lee of SF openly complained that the "City Family" has already spent 2/3 of its overtime budget for 2012).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 8:36 am

Not all who dress in black and use militant tactics are anarchists, it appears. There are some in Oakland who believe that they are vanguardists, destined to lead the clueless masses into insurrection similar to Leninists. Unlike Leninists, these vanguardists have no idea where they're going to be leading the masses other than insurrection against the existing regime, and some self describe as nihilists.

On J28, it seems that the wide range of OO "seasoned activists" proved their mettle by advertising to the world and the cops that they intended to take a public building. Occupy needs face-to-face organizing spaces as that is what made Occupy successful and that is what causes the authorities to crack down. But it does not take an anarchist or insurrectionary to play a poor strategic game.

Occupy is a populist movement that has not adopted a generalized critique of capitalism as a whole. Most who support Occupy have targeted several aspects of predatory finance capitalism run amok and the broad consensus is that structural rather than systemic reform is the goal. This is why OO is the outlier in the Occupy movement.

Remember, Oakland is the place where the cops and FBI joined forces to bomb Judi Bari for daring to unite timber workers and environmentalists in common cause, and blamed her for her own bombing. That is the last place that I would want to do any sort of activism, period.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 9:29 am

^coward

Posted by anon on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 9:57 am

Yeah, I'm afraid to put my own needs and desires aside in favor of where a supermajority of people are, a real coward.

I'll take a diversity of tactics as soon as we have a modicum of strategy.

For instance, why could OO have orchestrated a division of labor, where the militants could have provided a diversion by breaking stuff a mile or so away from the target building so that the OPD was distracted and that provided an opening for the peaceful occupiers to take the structure?

No, it was all about the militants being seen as being more radical than everyone else, which resulted in the status quo being preserved. Jail sucks, getting caught sucks.

The best, most effective militant and radical actions happen when nobody else is looking and that is very threatening to those whose radical self image is predicated on being seen as being more radical than the next activist.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 10:07 am

Occupy is SO last autumn.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

cold and wet, Occupy would fold.

But the Occupy folks all said, no, this thing would endure.

Then it got cold and wet.

The Occupy folks went home and stayed home.

You can't have a revolution if you don't even want to be out in the rain.

And all we are left with is a cliche: "I'm part of the 99%". BFD, I'd rather be part of the 1% but I'm not smart enough.

Posted by Anon-y mouse on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

The didn't go away, my friend. The just stopped getting CNN coverage. Every Saturday in Oakland, there is a march against the police.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

That's great that you get to go out sometimes.

Even if it is only in Oakland.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:19 am

haha. let's see you fare if you get evicted out of your house twice, by armed people with teargas, batons, and near lethal bullets. then your house gets repeatedly flooded. and patrolled by the same armed group, who steals your toilets as well as picks off your family members occasionally, and sticks them in jail, for trying to sleep. and still, you keep coming back? well, some people still do, even if they can't every day.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

it is not the case that the anarchist black bloc or anarchists of any persuasion are trying to lead anybody anywhere. certainly they are not vanguardists since that is of a communist socialist persuasion. as for being leninist again a communist socialist thing.in terms of radicals trying to out radical one another is easily enough a liberal reactionary apologist position of seeing radicals in some kind of pissing contest! again a discourse attempting to undermine any radical discourse. radical discourse is systemic change that is to say revolution, structural change is reactionary band-aid measures.as for judi bari is that not an attempt to scare anybody off any radicality!

Posted by Guest tonyruzzapolitic.com on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

Judi Bari was not by any measure engaged in radical organizing with Redwood Summer as measured by the militants in Oakland.

No, Redwood Summer swore off tree spiking, stoking no small measure of controversy within the movement, with intent to make common cause with the loggers.

It was the fear of radical reform, not systemic change, that was the real threat that got Judi and Darryl bombed just like both downtown and progressives fear any efforts to unite liberals, progressives and neighborhood folks against downtown and the right wing conservatives here in SF.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

Oakland Police. There's just something laughable about those two words together.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

Anarchy is a philosophy, a way of self-governing that if done right eliminates violence. Not only the thugs of Oakland PD are ignorant of that but disappointingly a lot of the comments on this story too.

And whoever said Occupy disappeared into the winter is NOT in Oakland. A lot of militant and innovative thinking has come out of the persecution by Oakland PD, and Occupy's found some real focus--on fighting the corporate, governmental, and police gangs of this city. There's a lot to be said for spending time in out of the rain, talking things out and learning what's going on around us.

Occupy hasn't gone anywhere--except maybe in and out of jail!!

Posted by Cynthia on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 3:32 am

Hell, If I lived in Oakland, I'd be kissing the ground the cops walk on, given all the crime and violence there.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:20 am

Wellllll, you don't, so you don't know what you are talking about. The officers that make up the OPD are criminals.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

rather run into a cop that anyone else.

Most who hate the cops have something to hide. I do not.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

Oakland is naturally the most politically advanced of the US Occupy groupings. It's the Bay Area, which is traditionally more radical, especially when it comes to how the capitalist system works. I wouldn't call them an outlier group, just a bit ahead of the curve (I hope).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 7:41 am

Thank you for finally highlighting in print what we have all known long enough. Hell, I am living in SF and I had to come witness the OPD for myself and ended up getting arrested for 30 minutes (lucky I was let go because they couldn't charge me with trespassing since I was on the street when I was kettled). What I can tell you is.. OPD isn't SFPD. SFPD are cuddly bunnies compared to what OPD has been up to.

Something I try to get people outside of the "Bay Area Bubble" to understand is how truly corrupt and bad OPD is. Many people don't understand how close they are to being the only federalized city police force. Nor can they comprehend "Gangs within" an organization that the public has always identified as being "Against Gangs". We basically have criminals chasing criminals. When will that madness stop and the real police work begin?

It only takes a few minutes before the memories of the 60's and 70's come back when we all heard about how OPD assassinated leaders of the Black Panther party.

Occupy didn't make me an activist. The Police did it all for me. Something that people within Occupy understand and are learning to live with is the organic nature of Occupy SF and Occupy Oakland. Sure, there are GA's and there is a "structure" in place, but the real magic is the people like myself that come out of the woodwork when the call comes out. We are the ones that sit at home and monitor the Livestreams. We monitor the police scanners, we coordinate with those on the ground in other cities in real-time. New York, completely different.. much more structured, but that's understandable since they are at the center of the media attention you have to have your sh*t together a bit more. Out here, we can flow.. why have strict rules, it only makes it easier for them.

During the brutal crackdown of the camps this Winter you had people like myself manning the livestream/ustreams, media copter cams, and police scanners trying to help our fellow Occupiers on the ground. We understand how blind you can feel when you don't know that you are being surrounded on all sides by police. We understand how scary it can be going through your first raid. Fear is embedded in us at an early age. Once you face this fear and overcome it. Then you truly know and feel the power of Occupy. Occupy is about more then you can imagine, Its about awakening one's self to the reality on the ground. That just because we are told and say we are free. We really aren't, and we are here to show you the hypocrisy in this at every turn.

However, the powers that be naturally want to kill us. So, we are sorry if we need shields now, but we didn't ask to be shot at with rubber bullets. All the kids wanted was a community center in a city full of empty buildings, and the city of Oakland couldn't deliver. We realize that this isn't a one time thing.. This is consistent. Oakland never delivers. It doesn't seem like any government service delivers much anymore.

Many of us have come to the conclusion that there isn't an easy way to end this confrontation with OPD. They pretty much killed all attempts of a "Cease fire" with the mass arrests on J28. Since then.. Occupy has been in hibernation. Licking its wounds.. waiting for things to self-organize as they naturally do. We all know we are being monitored, and we all know what the stakes are. But at the same time that fire burns deep in us.. and burns hotter with ever day that passes. People are now addicted to the rush of confronting authority.

That being said, I'm old.. going on 36 all I can do is serve as an example to the kids that they will have to take responsibility for their actions. I am a beacon saying, "don't do anything stupid, you will be 36 too some day, and you don't want to be in jail your entire life do you?" What else more can I do. However, as soon as the gas flies and the LRAD is turned on.. We are one. United by force, because we are all being attacked.

Psst, Spring is very near.. you should be expecting them soon..

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 10:27 am

So if it's cold and wet, you don't have to protest?

How precious for you.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 10:59 am

It *is* precious when you set the tempo.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

going back to your warm house afterwards.

The Russian Revolution happened just like that, I'm sure.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

These are some of the most deluded folks out there. They don't want to live in the society as is, so they riot and run amok so as to make the rest of us live as they intend.

It is so very odd.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

"Anarchism is a political ideology, and not illegal. Yet officers apparently count out individuals that they perceive as anarchists."

That's not exactly correct. Anarchism may be one for the few political ideologies that are in fact illegal in the US, check out the laws on the books for criminal syndicalism. There isn't case law stopping the Po from re-using these laws, it may be a matter of time.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 10:41 am

marcos youre still a coward.

Posted by anon on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 11:26 am

Anonymous? Who's the coward? He's putting his name on his POV and you call him a coward for not sharing yours exactly hiding behind a mask? WTF? Oakland's a mess- a big beautiful mess sometimes but a mess. OO is a little delusional not unlike the tea party on the other end of the spectrum. Well OO isn't quite as organized what with that consensus thing and some delusion of radical inclusivity. We need more Judy Baries and for f*ck's sake kids learn some strategy. So much good energy and idealism wasted by cluelessness- sounds like my parent's generation.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

Posted by Guest i heart yael on May. 03, 2012 @ 4:42 am

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