Dear Commons Community,
Ishmael Reed, author of Blues City: A Walk in Oakland, in a NY Times op-ed piece, comments on the recent violence in the Occupy Oakland protest. He comments on the mayor, Jean Quan, an Asian American and first female mayor of Oakland, the police, many of whom do not live in Oakland, and the protesters, many of whom are out-of-towners. Reed describes the history of race relations between the police and large black and Latino populations as “The force’s viciousness, particularly against blacks and Latinos, is legendary.”
He asks: “How did Asian-Americans respond to the sight of a diminutive Asian-American mayor being hooted off the stage by a largely white crowd at an Oct. 27 rally?” after apologizing for the police’s actions.
He concludes that:
“All of this has left Oakland’s blacks and Latinos in a difficult position. They rightly criticize the police, but they also criticize the other invading army, the whites from other cities, and even other states, whom they blame for the vandalism that tends to break out whenever there is a heated protest in town: from the riots after the murder of Oscar Grant by a transit police officer in 2009, to the violence of the last two weeks downtown and, most recently, near the port.”
Occupy Wall Street and its progeny in other cities is an important movement in this country but as Reed observes: “it has risks” and has to be careful of alienating those who it is protesting for.