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Videos: Jean Quan, Scott Olsen, Anthony Batts Reflect on Occupy in Oakland Museum Series

| May 2, 2012
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Yesterday the Oakland Museum of California posted an online video exhibit on the Occupy movement. “Portraits from the Occupation” is a series of 16 interviews with “individuals involved with or impacted by Occupy Oakland.” The videos were shot by artists Alex Abramovich and Lucy Raven.

On Saturday, May 5, the piece will screen all day in the entry areas of the museum’s Gallery of California History and Gallery of California Art.

Three of the videos and transcript extracts below…

Mayor Jean Quan

For Oakland, it’s obviously not been great. What I’ve learned out of this is that the Occupy and young people have their own media system. So…what a lot of people think across the country is that we are this repressive fascist city and we just closed down the camp and we teargassed and rubber bulleted people and we’re constantly not allowing people to demonstrate. When the reality is that there’s only one night since this thing began when occupiers could not use the plaza, could not have meetings, could not have demonstrations.

We as a city had a lot of damage to our reputation, and to our finances and to our public safety in the sense that there’s probably been at least a million dollars of vandalism and damage in the city hall area, and that because the demonstrations have been continuous and ongoing…it’s taken police officers away from a city that really needs its police officers… We have one of the highest murder rates in the country…

The movement has to be sustainable and built on really concrete demands…When I was a union organizer, it was not just okay we’re against rich people… I had a discussion with a young person who said we’re going to try to close down all the banks in Oakland. I smiled and said, you know I’ve spent most of my last year trying to open banks in neighborhoods that have been greenlined, so we’re obviously coming from a different place. You have to sort of figure that out: Are banks innately evil? Maybe. On the other hand, Bank Of America has had this historic old tradition that the owner of that bank literally hauled the money out of the bank vault in a cart and leant money so people could rebuild San Francisco. So sometimes things aren’t so clear cut… As the mayor of the city, when I negotiate with Wells Fargo and Bank of America, I’m asking them to open branches in East Oakland, in areas where immigrants have no ability to have a checking account. You have to keep your eyes on what the goal is, and the goal is for people to have better lives and more opportunity in this country.

Scott Olsen, Iraq War vet injured by bean bag projectile thrown by police

I think a lot of people had been waiting for [Occupy]. I was active in the labor protest in early 2011 in Wisconsin and I saw this as a continuation of what’s needed to be done in order to return our government to the people and give the people a say again.

Oct 25…I was checking Twitter, I saw that Occupy Oakland was calling for support…so I got on the BART…and as soon as I got to 14th and Broadway there were a lot of demonstrators present and police surrounding them. I joined the crowd, and I saw a Veterans For Peace flag, so I knew I probably knew the guy… We were standing there…in between the protesters and police…it was a very surreal experience to be facing down the police…

Soon after the police stated to attack us and use tear gas against us, I was shot in the head by a… bean bag round. I woke up on the ground…I must have gone out for a few seconds. There were people trying to help me. I didn’t realize how hurt I’d become. I thought it was just a minor injury. I wanted them to leave me alone. But as soon as they kept asking me my name and I coudln’t muster up an answer, I knew I should let them help me….

One thing Occupy could have done better: A lot of people were quick to turn to violence. Whether it be the petty violence of smashing windows or graffiti…that makes us look bad and it’s not productive, it doesn’t do anything for anybody.

I think the city used even more violence than Occupy did. When you dress somebody up like a soldier, when you train with soldiers and when you have the weapons of soldiers, you think you are a soldier and you want to hurt somebody.

Former Police Chief Anthony Batts

The mayor was basically a neophyte, she hadn’t been in office for a year. You had a city administrator who’d maybe been in her position for two months… you had Howard Jordan who was an interim. So you had an aligning of a perfect storm. You had a rookie crew…dealign with a situation that they probably hadn’t seen before…

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Category: Arts and Entertainment, Law Enforcement, Oakland, Recreation

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  • Matthew L Kees

    Why doesn’t Ms. Quan KNOW the name of the cop who shot Scott and do something about it? It shows incompetency and the lack of desire to achieve real justice. He should be publicly ridiculed by any and all good policemen, or else it shows they are all in the same boat protecting their own.

  • Matthew L Kees

    Anthony explains well WHY Occupy does not expect the system to heal itself. The lawyers that could apply the Rule of Law, have a “conflict of interest”. If you want to bring back a respect for law and order, then those with the power of the state must be held accountable. Else, expect this situation to continue to deteriorate.

    Someone in Oakland has to become the Adult in the Room. Ms. Quan doesn’t show she has that ability. While she may have been a bit of a rebel in her day, she is now on the side of a very corrupt legal (prison) system. A system that must be demolished before any healing can begin.

    The tensions with OPD and the citizens of Oakland are decades old. It wasn’t Occupy that began this battle.