What Progressive Criticisms of Anarchists in Occupy Don't Understand: A Response to Chris Hedges
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Anti-Occupy graffiti in downtown Oakland, February 6. (Photo: Susie Cagle)
At this still-early stage in the movement, Occupy is a PR war. But to win that PR war, Occupy Oakland must rely on that information being consistently and accurately reported. The major networks and newspapers had few reporters out on January 28. Even the most spectacular planned events that capture media attention in this mid-sized, economically-depressed city are still reported in a way that mainly reflects the city's accounts of events. The 24-hour vigil at City Hall Plaza, the foreclosure defenses, the squats of foreclosed buildings, the pop-up gardens and tongue-in-cheek homemade boats on Lake Merritt - none of these actions captured the camera's gaze until the police came, until arrests were made.
The actions of black bloc occupiers in Portland this week have received far less coverage than the shields of Occupy Oakland. Smashy fits Oakland's narrative of violence, not Portland's.
"A riot is the language of the unheard," said Martin Luther King. And Oakland is a city of the unheard, a city of tremendous institutionalized violence, a city of empty and blighted bank-owned homes, a city that saw riots and mass arrests just a year ago in response to police brutality, all before Occupy has a name or public face.
Regardless of where that riotous energy is focused next, Hedges and others would be well served to spend some time in Oakland and its occupation in order to better cover it.
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