On Countdown, Keith Olbermann took the Oakland police and Mayor Jean Quan to task for the violence at Occupy Oakland, and warned that their actions could mark a dangerous turning point in the protests.
Here is the video from Current TV:
Olbermann discussed Mayor Quan’s 20 year liberal career in Oakland and then said, “And in the last two nights Mayor Jean Quan has betrayed all of that. There is no excuse. There is no justification. There is no rationalization for being the mayor who may have begun the great march backward in this country to the days when mayors like Sam Yorty of Los Angeles and Hugh Addonizio of Newark and Richard Dailey of Chicago stood back and their police incited, bullied, overreacted, and brutally assaulted protesters at the height of the Civil Rights and Vietnam movements. Those protests began non-violently, positively with singing and marching and cooperation with authorities, but the police like the police in Oakland, California this week, they injected the violence. Then it escalated and echoed, and soon there wasn’t just one Iraq vet in a hospital with a fractured skull, but there were dead men and women on the streets in this country and no one in this country wants to see that again today.”
He continued, “The mayor of any city is not out on the front lines with cops, and not everything they do can be lain at the mayor’s feet, but if one night a group of peaceable protesters exercising the rights given to them under the Constitution and not rights made up for the cops by the cops like lawful command and imminent threat. If they are attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets and the mayor’s only comments are to commend the police chief for a, “generally peacefully resolution to a situation, “ and after that claim democracy is messy, after the unprovoked actions horrify a nation, she is endorsing and assuming for herself whatever havoc the out of control police officers wrought.”
Later Olbermann closed by pointing out that it was only 15 months ago that Mayor Jean Quan was bullied by the police department, “Fifteen months ago Mayor Jean Quan was bullied by the Oakland Police Department, and tonight she is the bully. Mayor Quan is left with two choices. She can dismiss the acting police chief Howard Jordan and use her mayoral powers to authorize Occupy Oakland to protest again without harassment, or having betrayed everything she supported and all those who supported her, she must resign.”
SFGate is reporting that a press conference tonight Mayor Quan is claiming that she had little input on the Occupy Oakland raid, “Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who is being criticized from all sides for a police sweep of the Occupy Oakland encampment, said Wednesday she was not involved in the planning and did not even know when the action was going to take place.”
In short Mayor Quan is passing the buck. The question is why wasn’t the mayor overseeing her police department? How could she not know when the action was going to take place? Was the previous intimidation that she suffered so traumatic that she is now afraid of the Oakland Police Department?
Instead of taking responsibility for the violence that occurred under her watch, Mayor Quan is taking the coward’s way out. The I had nothing to do with it excuse is not strong leadership, and it also provides some insight into how the police department got so out of control.
Olbermann’s larger point in my mind was the dangerous precedent that the Oakland Police may have now set for dealing with Occupy protesters around the country. If the police get away with this in Oakland, it will send the message to other mayors and police departments around that they can engage in the same behavior without consequences. The people must stand up and make it clear that they will not tolerate police brutality. The protesters have the courage that the politicians sorely lack.
History is on the verge of repeating itself, but America has the ability to avoid making the same mistakes. If Americans stand together, the police can’t arrest or beat everyone.
As Isaac Asimov wrote, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Violence is also the one of the final actions of the desperate. Make no mistake about it. The people who oppose this movement are getting desperate. They have tried ignoring the protests. They tried propaganda and smears. Everything else has failed, so all they have left is violence.
They don’t seem to understand that violence is their fast track to failure. When they act out violently they make this movement stronger. Once violence fails, all that will be left for them is defeat.