Veterans for Peace
East Bay Chapter 162
The members of Veterans for Peace, East Bay Chapter 162, have been watching the increasing repression against the Occupy Movement here in Oakland, CA, which has included repeated use of chemical agents, concussion grenades, and other “less lethal” weapons, as well as beatings. Several persons, including military veterans, have been seriously injured by the police. There have also been mass arrests: on October 25, 2011 of about seventy Occupiers, and on January 28, 2012 of over four hundred Occupiers.
This repression sounds chillingly like those occurring in so many 3rd world dictatorships which our government routinely castigates for human rights abuse. Incredibly, it’s happening here in Oakland, a city where we either live, work and shop, or at least attend movies & cultural events. Among the arrestees are friends and neighbors, people we know personally. Some are veterans.
We note that the supposedly “unbiased” mainstream media have chosen to spin these events into a propaganda attack against Occupy Oakland. For many Vietnam Era veterans this is déjà vu, recalling that antiwar veterans who protested during the 1960s and 1970s were likewise often subjected to grossly distorted media reportage.
Occupy Oakland deserves respect. By empowering the powerless, the movement has restored dignity to the downtrodden. That was made clear on Nov 2nd, the first general strike in the US since 1946, which strike also took place in Oakland, and again during the West Coast Port Shutdown of Dec 12th. Those actions inspired rank-and-file trade unionists in other cities, notably in Longview, WA, where dockworkers who’d been on the picket line for half a year were energized to continue their struggle. This month we received news that the Longview dockworkers have won; Occupy Oakland, along with other Occupys, played a significant role in that victory.
Any movement as ambitious as Occupy is certain to make mistakes and go to excesses. Examples would be the breaking of windows on Nov 2nd and the burning of the flag on Jan 28th. Fortunately, it is the nature of Occupy to be self-correcting, by continuing to discuss tactics and strategies both at the General Assembly and in small informal groups. We’re confident that an ever increasingly effective Occupy movement will emerge from these ongoing discussions.
We strongly express our support for Occupy Oakland, as we have in the past. The men and women of Occupy represent our hope for the future, a well placed hope, we believe, and we commend them on their firm stand in the face of brutal repression and their courageous defense of our First Amendment rights.
Veterans for Peace
East Bay Chapter #162
The chapter meets on the 2nd Saturday each month, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94609