What follows are examples of articles published in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper whose dictate emboldens the public to view the Occupy Oakland movement as "violent, deranged, anarchist" and "whites-only.
Every single article distorts what we already know... the Occupy Oakland movement is multi-racial, civil, with participation by employed people, students & homelesss, who have created together an actual functioning vision of a community-utopia.For the biggest newspaper in north California to publish falsified "news" shows how deep the fascists are going in suppressing the Occupy movement.
The media distortions have been noticed by many people, exemplified by the following letter and article:
Letter by Seth Newmeyer of Oakland to the newspaper editors:
* 2011-12-15 "San Francisco Chronicle", published as "It's the economy vs. the 99%"
* 2011-12-15 "Oakland Tribune", published as "Port action pressured the robber barons"
The coordinated West Coast port shutdown of Dec. 12 was a success in everything but the media.
Sure, there was the extremely unfounded, pervasive media bias that blockading the ports hurt longshoremen and truckers (though only in the short-term, in dubious and reparable ways, for their prospective long-term benefit) and that their unions did not support us (though their rank-and-file largely did, and their unions are half corrupt, half castrated by legislation such as Taft-Hartley and their own professionalization/bureaucratization), etc.
But there was no reference that these ports are the gateways to the American economy, which does not belong solely to longshoremen and truckers.
This is an economy that is working against the 99 percent, so the 99 percent has the right, the duty, to work against it.
By placing costly pressure on such centers of capital flow as the ports, the biggest of the robber barons feel the greatest squeeze, and are forced to either make substantive changes to our benefit or lose their power over our economy so we can make those changes ourselves.
2011-12-13 "The Chronicle's coverage of Occupy" by Rebecca Bowe from "San Francisco Bay Guardian"
I couldn't help but notice that the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle today juxtaposed this lead news photo and article about yesterday's Port of Oakland shutdown with the following headline: "Blacks don't feel drawn to white-led movement."
San Francisco's paper of record was referring to Occupy Oakland, which led several marches to shut down operations at the port Dec. 12 and claimed victory after accomplishing just what protest organizers had set out to do.
The article's premise -- that Occupy is a white-led movement -- does not appear to ring true in the case of Occupy Oakland. I'm basing this statement on my 24-hour stay at the encampment that once stood at Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza. After interviewing people living in tents there -- who represented a wide variety of racial and economic backgrounds and voiced concerns about Oakland Public Schools, gang injunctions, Native American struggles, and police brutality, among other issues -- I left with the impression that racial diversity was part of what made this particular movement unique and perhaps more politically potent than past coalitions driven by the left.
The Chronicle interviewed several African American individuals for the article who expressed that they felt a disconnect with the Occupy movement. Between in-depth interviews with Oakland residents who said they disagreed with Occupy's tactics or thought occupiers should instead be protesting violence in African American neighborhoods, the article did mention one individual who doesn't fit their narrative.
"Boots Riley, one of the more prominent Occupy Oakland organizers, is African American," reporter Joe Garofoli informs us. Someone's been paying attention.
So ... did the reporter contact Riley to ask what he thought about the idea that blacks aren't feeling drawn to Occupy?
Um, no. The Chronicle did not bother calling him, Riley informed us via text.
Riley, the organizer and hip hop artist whose voice could be heard on the megaphone at the port protest yesterday and when music by The Coup was blasting out of mobile sound systems, does have an opinion about the Chronicle's coverage.
"Joe Garofoli's article is hack journalism," he proclaimed on Twitter. He followed it up by pointing out that Garofoli failed to interview Occupy-affiliated black Oakland residents who helped move Oakland resident Gayla Newsome back into her foreclosed home. Nor did the Chronicle talk to African American protesters who opposed school closures on Nov. 19. Black youth also took over an abandoned property to create a community center in a West Oakland neighborhood, Riley pointed out, but their perspective wasn't reflected in the article, either.
It's true that some black people may be critical of Occupy. No one's perfect, and it's good for any movement to engage in self-reflection, examine whether or not certain groups are feeling alienated, and consider what can be done to be more inclusive. But with coverage like that, I wouldn't be suprised if readers felt a disconnect with the Chronicle's portrayal of Occupy.
The San Francisco Chronicle had published a front page story in late October about the absolute diversity of Occupy Oakland:
2011-10-25 "Occupy Oakland's diversity is strength, challenge"
by Demian Bulwa, Kevin Fagan from "San Francisco Chronicle":
Zisa O, 22, a writer and blogger, sits with some new friends at the protest outside Oakland City Hall.
Aiyahnna Johnson of Oakland, with her daughter, Persia Evans, has been taking part in the protests for weeks. Photo: Mike Kepka / The Chronicle [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2011/10/24/MNRP1LLJUT.DTL&o=1&type=printable]
SAN FRANCISCO -- No single face represents the elaborate encampment outside Oakland City Hall that inhabitants call an experiment in antiauthoritarian living.
Instead, two weeks after the first tent went up - and four days after the city gave its first eviction order - the plaza on Monday held a spicy stew of idealists and anarchists, angry middle-class workers and aging radicals, peaceniks and provocateurs, the jobless and the homeless, plus some people who just want to party.
The common ground at Occupy Oakland is anger over economic inequality and a desire to hoist a local flag in the Occupy Wall Street movement. But creating an alternative society on a half-acre isn't easy, and no fewer than 21 committees have formed to oversee everything from food to security.
Perhaps more challenging - given the mass appeal of the movement - is fostering inclusiveness in a camp that is highly unusual, tinged with paranoia about corporate America and facing a possible confrontation with police over sanitation and security issues. A sign at the entrance seems to sum up some of the camp's insular leanings: "Don't worry," it states, "I don't take you seriously either."
Different this time -
Many veteran protesters say they haven't seen this broad a spectrum of people camping out long term for a cause since the 1960s. Demonstrations against wars and other causes produced marches and coalitions, but actually occupying in unison across the country for as long as this is remarkable, they said.
"This is different," said the Rev. Louie Vitale of Oakland, who at 79 is one of the deans of the Bay Area protest community.
"There is certainly some of the usual expressive behavior of the counterculture in terms of dress and revolutionary rhetoric," he said as he marched with other clergy Monday in support of the San Francisco Occupy camp - which is more homogenous in its counterculture flavor than Oakland. "But it's not the heart of what's going on.
"What they're really trying for everywhere is a paradigm shift, and a lot of that has to do with the new idea of what the middle class is after losing ground for years," Vitale said.
That dynamic is drawing out people like lawyer Timothy Fong, who has been driving in daily from his Santa Clara office to the Oakland camp to help with strategy on fundraising to continue the protest.
"There are people here from the anarchist or communist movements, and we're not going to see eye to eye, but that's fine," he said, standing in the camp in a snappy L.L. Bean jacket. "We all need to dialogue. I've also seen a lot of people here from the neighborhoods, people used to working in the community, office workers."
Ra So, a 38-year-old musician from Oakland who has been taking part in the camp's committees, said it should not be surprising that many of the camp's full-time residents are veteran activists. He called them "the foot soldiers of the people."
"The people that can afford to camp out are usually idealistic young people, so what you see in camp isn't always going to be reflective of the broad-based support behind this," So said. "It takes people who have hard-core ideals. Most people are sitting at home watching 'The Simpsons.' They might feel the same way, but not take action."
Coming after work -
It's usually during the camp's general assemblies - which were recently scaled back from nightly to four nights a week - that a broader set of people arrives, often after getting off work.
"I'm definitely in the part of the camp that is for nonviolent protest," said a 23-year-old woman from Berkeley who gave only her last name of Dorney. "But it seems like there's a group of people that does want to fight back, and aren't thinking about the safety of everybody else."
Dorney has been operating "Children's Village," an area for as many as 23 kids every day, complete with games and art supplies, but said she will have to cut back on her duties after landing a job as a tutor.
Asked why she had come, she said, "We all want to change the world, to make it better. We're all kind of sick and tired and fed up. ... I think a lot of people in California and across the country are looking to us."
'A test run' -
Surveying the plaza on Monday morning, a 25-year-old anarchist who goes by the pseudonym Michael Sampson said, "This is a test run. I see this camp as a school where people learn how to organize and learn about social issues that are plaguing us all."
Sampson, who lives in a radical collective house in North Oakland and volunteers with nonprofit groups and a radical newspaper, said anarchists are often misinterpreted as advocates of chaos.
"Anarchism to me is about structure and order," he said. "You want to see anarchism in its truest form - it's here."
The test has had plenty of tension built in.
Protesters have struggled to communicate with television reporters, who have at times been harassed or forbidden from filming. And campers have had trouble at times controlling troublemakers - "nihilists," as some call them, who didn't come for the policy debates.
Some people who wanted to camp were scared off by violence, including a frightening incident last week in which a mentally ill man assaulted protesters before one knocked him down with a two-by-four. Such incidents have prompted deep soul-searching and fierce debates in camp.
During a march through Oakland on Saturday, for instance, one protester began screaming "F- the police!" over and over. Mills College student Annie Lebowitz, who was in the march, ran up to him and persuaded him to take it down a notch.
"I said, there are families here, we don't want to be alienating people," said Lebowitz, 27. "I told him, 'I don't want to tell you what to do, but please consider what I'm saying' - and he stopped."
One resident of the camp who knows how to shake things up but is vowing nonviolence is Gabe Meyers, a 34-year-old Oakland resident known for provocative protest tactics. In April 2009, in the wake of a BART police officer's fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, he threw red paint at the transit agency's general manager during a board meeting, earning 30 days in jail.
He said some troublemakers have been disruptive enough at times to undermine the mission of the camp, but added, "I think there are enough good people here not to let us get distracted."
"This is people deciding to reclaim space, which is a way of taking power back," Meyers said. "It's not the typical protest movement, with just the leftists getting involved. It's more of a populist thing. People are realizing we've been screwed over by the ruling class."
The San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of Occupy Oakland changed around mid-November, just after San Francisco's Mayor Lee began the assault against protestors across the city...
2011-11-30 "Protesters’ strategy: repeated provocations" by Justin Berton and Demian Bulwa from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
With their encampments gone and winter approaching, Occupy Oakland protesters have entered a second phase, seeking to avoid stagnation through provocative acts that replace the natural tension provided by the tent cities.
Conflict is the lifeblood of the Occupy movement, which is focused on economic equality but has gained momentum from heavy-handed police crackdowns. The Oakland group’s penchant for cranking up tension has brought publicity and energy, but has turned off many people who lament the cost of extra policing and the damage done by vandals.
After police removed the main encampment outside Oakland City Hall for a second time on Nov. 14, activists lost their base. Hours later, protest leader Christopher “Krystof” Cantor, 35, warned a general assembly of fellow demonstrators, “There has to be some tension and opposition. If you’re not pushing them, if they’re happy with what you’re doing, you have a problem.”
Since then, attendance at the assemblies — still held four days a week — has dwindled. On Sunday, the turnout dropped below 100 people, the minimum needed to bring a proposal to a vote.
Sustaining energy -
But protesters say they can sustain energy through events. In the past two weeks, protesters have tried to occupy a vacant downtown lot over the objections of neighbors and a foreclosed West Oakland lot until the owner objected. On Black Friday, protesters organized flash mobs inside Target and Ikea in Emeryville.
They are holding a rally at 5 p.m. today in Fruitvale Village Plaza in Oakland to oppose immigration enforcement and civil gang injunctions, and will try to halt business at the Port of Oakland for a second time on Dec. 12 as part of a planned blockade of a number of West Coast ports.
Leo Ritz-barr, 21, a member of Occupy Oakland’s events committee, said the closure of the encampments necessitated a steady diet of action to maintain momentum.
“I don’t want to say (Oakland Mayor) Jean Quan was right, but camping was a tactic and not a solution,” Ritz-barr said. “We do have to be creative and think of new ideas and keep new people coming into the movement. At this point, the only thing that will keep us together are direct actions.”
Diluted message -
But Larry Reid, an Oakland city councilman, said Tuesday that the movement had abandoned its core message. He said he was outraged that protesters would try to shut down the port — the nation’s fifth-busiest — which he called “the engine that drives this entire region.”
“They’re trying to provoke the police department,” Reid said. “I wish they would do something more constructive. They’re losing supporters day in and day out.”
As with most days, Tuesday brought another standoff, albeit a small one. Several dozen people gathered outside City Hall at noon, saying they would retake Frank Ogawa Plaza — not with a full-blown camp but by holding an allhours “vigil” and erecting symbolic structures.
But when omnipresent activist Zachary Runningwolf began to put up a teepee, as many as 18 officers arrived to stop him. After an hour-long impasse, city representatives gave Runningwolf and his attorneys a three-day permit to raise the structure at the edge of the plaza beneath two oak trees.
Runningwolf’s attorney said the teepee, which cannot be slept in, will be removed at 10 p.m. each night under the permit conditions.
The city has forbidden camping in the plaza. Officer Johnna Watson, a police spokeswoman, said the city would continue to monitor the plaza with help from a squad of unarmed private security officers the city recently hired for $540,000 a month.
“If we have to change or reassess the situation, we’ll certainly do that,” Watson said.
Occupy Oakland had maintained a small presence in the plaza since the Nov. 14 sweep. By Tuesday, three platforms had been built into the branches of a tree along 14th Street, allowing Runningwolf and other protesters to sleep there. There were protest signs, a few canopies, a food table and no tents.
“We’re just rolling with the punches,” said José Hernandez, 21, of Los Angeles, who has been participating in Occupy Oakland for nearly a month. “We’re holding the area, which is a big part of this. We’re here to divulge our knowledge and share what we know to be true.”
2011-12-10 "A counterproductive stunt" from "San Francisco Chronicle"The suggested stoppage is hubris gone wild, as Occupiers will probably find out. They’re clearly more interested in rejuvenating a fading army than helping the 99 percent. Port employees — including truck drivers and dockworkers — are so unimpressed that their unions have issued chilly rejections of the Occupiers’ help.
So far, the labor brush-off hasn’t sunk in. Come Monday, protesters are hoping for a rerun of a messy but effective closure of Oakland’s port operations on Nov. 2. Thousands turned out that day in the wake of a police crackdown on the downtown Oakland camp. The protest collected a large measure of hat happens when a protest movement moves to help the oppressed — and the oppressed aren’t all that interested? Occupy Wall Street protesters up and down the West Coast want to shut down a string of ports, including Oakland’s, on Monday, even though major waterfront unions are spurning the idea. operations at one terminal in the Los Angeles-area port complex.
Noteworthy these struggles may be, but they aren’t enough to justify shutting down the entire West Coast, possibly leaving thousands of workers without a paycheck and the broader public confused about the connection to Wall Street misdeeds and economic disparity.
Occupiers insist that as their camps go away, the movement will persist and thrive in new circumstances. Financial hard times will continue to supply the anger fueling the protest, they claim.
That may be true. But a cavalier decision to go after ports — heavy employers of union members and other workers — makes zero sense.
Instead of a focus on a plausible and unifying cause, the Occupy hierarchy is throwing out simplistic ideas: Let’s shut down the coast and paralyze global commerce. It’s a sketchy idea, and it will hurt working people. union support in the full blush of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
That was then, but this is now. The past disruption doesn’t mean a repeat will work or is needed. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with a long history of labor combat, chooses its fights without coaching from the outside. Likewise, the Teamsters don’t need advice from Occupiers on when to strike.
The Occupy leadership — if there is such a thing — is throwing the net wide. They’ve called for protests from Anchorage to San Diego and have focused on labor battles over a grain exporter in Longview, Wash., and trucking operations at one terminal in the Los Angeles-area port complex.
Noteworthy these struggles may be, but they aren't enough to justify shutting down the entire West Coast, possibly leaving thousands of workers without a paycheck and the broader public confused about the connection to Wall Street misdeeds and economic disparity.
Occupiers insist that as their camps go away, the movement will persist and thrive in new circumstances. Financial hard times will continue to supply the anger fueling the protest, they claim.
That may be true. But a cavalier decision to go after ports - heavy employers of union members and other workers - makes zero sense.
Instead of a focus on a plausible and unifying cause, the Occupy hierarchy is throwing out simplistic ideas: Let's shut down the coast and paralyze global commerce. It's a sketchy idea, and it will hurt working people.
2011-12-13 "Occupy Oakland damages itself more than ports" by Chip Johnson from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Even as the Occupy movement attempted to spread its influence on Monday by forcing the shutdown of ports of call up and down the West Coast, its numbers appeared to be shrinking.
In early November, tens of thousands of protesters marched to shut down a single eight-hour work shift at the Port of Oakland.
Now, six weeks later, several thousand hardy souls braved cold, drizzling rain and steady winds on the Oakland waterfront to block truck access to the city-owned maritime operation.
It could have been the weather, but the group's tactics and the justification for its actions are losing popularity with the working-class Americans it claims to be supporting.
The use of confrontation as a catalyst for change has also resulted in a division among Occupy protesters that has soured some supporters on the movement.
Nonetheless, protesters marched on ports from San Diego to Anchorage on Monday, causing delays but no long-term closures.
March organizers didn't help their cause by ignoring labor leaders who did not support this action. That makes Occupiers about as arrogant as business owners who refuse to negotiate contracts in good faith with their workers.
Oakland Occupiers - and their supporters - have stood front and center through much of the two months of protest around the nation. Oakland organizers were the chief proponents of the idea to expand the port shutdown to the entire West Coast.
Union leaders describe Occupiers' attempts to draw labor and education unions into the fray another way: hijacking and piggybacking another movement.
"Support is one thing," wrote Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, in a letter to local union chapters. "Organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another and one that is destructive to our democratic process."
A statement on the Occupy Oakland website, www.occupyoakland.org, suggests that targeting ports serves another purpose besides hitting the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans in their pocketbooks. The action at West Coast ports is warranted by "nationally coordinated attacks on Occupy movements," according to the statement.
In other words, the port actions were called in part as retribution when cities decided to clear camps around the Bay Area and many other cities in the country.
Growing public sentiment against local Occupy protesters should serve as a wake-up call to the faceless, nameless group. And the group's misguided decisions to target public operations instead of the corporate marauders who benefited from the federal government's failure to hold the people's interest in trust are still confounding to many Americans.
If there is a second phase of operations, when Occupy protesters actually decide to occupy the offices of the corporate and financial institutions that benefited from our misery, maybe their message will wake America's masses. Unfortunately, all Monday's action did was take bread off the table of working people, and that's nothing to be proud of.
Organizers need to adopt new methods and tactics that resonate with a broader segment of America's working class and those out of work, or risk losing the momentum created by the single-minded idea that government's interest in the people should always trump corporate interests.
The San Francisco Chronicle also publishes letters from people who write straight lies about the Occupy movement...2011-10-29 "Advice to the movement" letter by Stephan Pardi of Oakland to the editor of the "San Francisco Chronicle"
I was highly dismayed by the letters to the editor on Thursday denouncing the police.
They seem to be laboring under many misunderstandings, chief among them that there is a big difference between exercising one's First Amendment rights (which do not include permanent encampments) and that of lawful assembly, which clearly this rabble-rousing crowd of mindless, violent hooligans were not (and it was made unlawful by their confrontational approach, which abridges the public's rights).
Further, I find it difficult to support Oakland's nihilistic and anarchistic crowd - one protester was quoted as saying: "I'm all about the riot - we need to be violent" ("Protesters regroup, disagree on tactics," Oct. 27) - who are not furthering the legitimate and serious issues raised by the Occupy Movement. Movement, then, might indeed bring about the changes this country so desperately needs. However, tearing up public property will not!
If this movement can gain some traction, it can only do so by taking a page out of the Tea Party's strategy and (unfortunately) highly successful but awful agenda: Organize! Make an agenda, in clear terms, and begin lawful demonstrations, not encampments, to elect members of Congress who will pay attention to the 99 percent - and conversely, oppose the re-election of those who do not.
Stephan Pardi of Oakland also had another similar letter published by the "San Francisco Chronicle" 2011-12-15, showing a sustained commitment to continue publishing attack letters by the same writers, and publishing these slanderous letters as editorial policy...
2011-12-13 "Berkeley camp sends the wrong message" letter by Charlotte Ferrey of Berkeley to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Regarding "Thriving camp finds Berkeley welcoming," Dec. 12:
It is wrong to allow this drug-infested camping to take place right next to a school. Whatever happened to drug-free school zones?
It defies all rules and laws regarding overnight camping, smoking and drinking and sends our children the wrong message when this is allowed.
The camp needs to be cleaned up and there should be a curfew established for the demonstrators. There is no reason to demonstrate during the nights when the society toward which these demonstrations are aimed is sleeping.
2011-12-05 "Occupy ... the Ferry Building?" letter by Anne Contratto of Chillicothe, Illinois to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle:
My husband and I spent the week in San Francisco last week, as we have for the last five years.
Our favorite site is the Ferry Building. We look forward to visiting it on Saturday so we can enjoy the Farmers Market in addition to the wonderful shops inside.
This year, we were especially happy we'd be visiting it on "Small Business Saturday." This place may have the highest concentration of small businesses in the country.
So imagine our shock and confusion at having to pass the Occupy encampment just across from the building. Additionally, we encountered many "Occupiers" using the Ferry Building restrooms as their personal bathrooms. Can anyone tell me why these folks are "occupying" the Ferry Building?
This experience left us disgusted. We won't be returning.
Thankfully, for some strange reason, the editor decided to print a reply to the previous letter:
2011-12-08 "Reply to the writer of "Occupy ... the Ferry Building?" (Letters, Dec. 6) in Chillicothe, Ill." by Pat Sides of Healdsburg to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Good, don't return. I worked in the city for years, and the homeless do use the bathrooms in the Ferry Building. The Occupy group was not causing any problem I can see - I shop every Tuesday and was surprised that they seem to be well contained and not infringing on the Farmers Market or shops. Why was she shocked and confused having to "pass by the occupiers"? Cross the street - they were not occupying the Ferry Building. Go back to Illinois and stay there.