OAKLAND (CBS 5) — Are they an organized political movement or is it pure anarchy inside the encampment at Oakland’s Frank Oagawa Plaza?
Occupy Oakland routinely issues press releases to the media calling themselves “an emerging social movement without leaders or spokespeople,” but then proceeds to provide contact information for individuals who can help arrange interviews. This movement “without leaders” has also set up a website: http://www.occupyoakland.org
CBS 5 Eyewitness News producer Wilson Walker wanted to find out exactly who comprises this movement and spent two nights recently camped out with Occupy Oakland outside City Hall.
Walker described many of the Occupy campers as young, politically liberal and predominantly white.
“They have welcomed and embraced a large number of homeless people as well,” he further explained, noting that the homeless have come in droves because food is plentiful at the encampment, there’s basic medical aid and conditions are far safer than the streets of Oakland.
“It’s somewhere where I can lay my head and I ain’t got to worry about everything getting stolen from me,” said one homeless man who declined to give his name.
However, Walker observed that the encampment had its share of problems too during the two nights that he stayed there.
“There are fights, one instance that looked like a domestic dispute, and there are children running around (unsupervised),” he said.
Walker said there’s also a sizable population of self-described drifters and anarchists looking to cause trouble.
“There are people there who speak very directly and advocate for destruction of property and violence against police,” Walker said.
During his 48 hours at the camp, Walker said he didn’t observe any significant police patrols.
“I think the question is how long can Oakland let this go on before you really have some problems, before someone gets sick, someone gets hurt, or you have episodes of violence which is going to make this difficult for the city to look away,” Walker concluded.
Meantime, there are some Oakland residents who wish the media would stop covering Occupy Oakland, contending the dysfunctional group lacks a cohesive message, enagages in “meaningless rants” and thus, isn’t very newsworthy.
In an e-mail to CBS 5 entitled “Please stop covering Occupy Oakland,” former TV reporter and current Oakland resident Eli Kuo said he “walked around the Frank Ogawa Plaza last Friday” and was amazed by what he saw.
“I saw people smoking pot, beating bongo drums, yelling and screaming like derelicts at news vans,” he wrote. “The protesters threatened TV news crews for being suspicious agents of ‘propaganda.’ These people do not have a unified cause… they are unemployed, non-property owners, and trouble-makers who have no solutions.”
With no leaders, it is difficult to get an official response to the claims of the Occupy naysayers.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)