Every time I think that the Occupy movement has a valid message and maybe I should start paying attention, my local branches go off and do something stupid and I decide to put them on the backburner for a little while longer.
A few months ago, some attention whore of a protester decided to scale San Jose's City Hall and camp out up there for a while. The only issue this action brought to my consideration was how the heck was he disposing of his body waste? After a couple of weeks, the guy comes down so that he can lead Occupy SJ protesters on a march in front of the homes of the mayor, Chuck Reed, and the city manager, Debra Figone. Great, harassing the families of elected officials! If that's the way you want to instigate change, definitely count me out. The organization (such as it is) has mostly been lying low in the winter, but I'm sure once the weather starts warming up they'll get moving again.
Meanwhile, Occupy Oakland. It seems like every time I turn around, that situation's deteriorated even more. "Occupying" the ports always seemed a dodgy move to me. Yes, they stop the importation of goods for a day, which in theory will hurt the big, evil corporations. But it seems far more likely to me to disrupt the people who work in the port, like the working class guys who unload the shipping containers, and isn't that the sort of person this movement is meant to help, not hurt?? But they hadn't done that a while, largely sticking to marching around Ogawa Plaza - fine. Then, a couple of days ago, their decision to take over an abandoned building somehow evolves into breaking into City Hall and burning an American flag taken from the building? WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA??
I mean, I strongly believe in the freedom of speech, but that is just vandalism. Stupid, thoughtless theft and destruction. Now, I keep hearing stories about how the police were being evil and beating everybody up and arresting people by the hundreds, and I sympathize. There are definitely bad cops out there, just as there are bad protesters mixed in with the good ones. But the police didn't force anyone to break into City Hall or make the protesters spray-paint graffiti on the walls. It wasn't the police who handed some kid a lighter and said, "Hey, burn this flag you found inside City Hall." That came from within the Occupy Oakland movement...and someone should be punished for it. Maybe not four hundred people - that is ridiculous. But if the Occupy movement can't control all the fringe elements that will attach themselves to it, especially in volatile places like Oakland, then they really need to reconsider their actions...because if they can't stop the poor behavior, than the police will, and it won't be pretty.