The plaza in front of City Hall has been cleared.
I can only look at this and think "it was bound to happen." Unfortunately, when the authorities decide to try to suppress protest movements, they almost always to use violence as multiple local police agencies did with tear gas and "non-lethal" weapons in Oakland on October 26. It becomes very hard for protesters under attack to keep the focus on their real issues -- the fact that 99 percent of us are losing our democracy and our livelihoods to enrich the one percent. Instead people become trapped in screaming matches about police and local government misbehavior. At the same time, folks on the edge of the protests -- often testosterone poisoned young males -- feel licensed by police brutality to break with whatever non-violent discipline the majority of protesters want.
Meanwhile, in this out-of-kilter society, there are always people with multiple unmet needs, who will see any encampment as at least a temporary refuge. As we move into winter, the Occupys are taking in their share and more of these folks.
And then we get to what's happening in Oakland. Jan Gilbrecht has written a very insightful reflection on Occupy Oakland which anyone who wishes the movement well would be served by reading in its entirety. Here are some excerpts:
There's serious social thought going on in and around these encampments. Let's grow a movement of the 99 percent around them!