Reaction pours in from 'Occupy' police action

October 28, 2011 7:56:56 PM PDT
It's certainly not the kind of attention Oakland wants: It's yet another negative image of a city plagued by image problems.

One person said he felt like Oakland has a big "Kick me" sign on its back because the city has been bogged down and defined by scandals dating back to the Black Panther movement, and after the Oscar Grant shooting and the riots that followed, people watching the "Occupy" demonstrations unfold are saying "Here we go again."

From political corruption and police brutality to the rising crime and lack of leadership, scandals have become almost synonymous with the city of Oakland, and people are tired of it.

"It's embarrassing because the fact of the matter is Oakland's a great city," said Jay Rowley, a resident of 35 years.

The Occupy movement is the latest scandal to overrun the activist-rich city. Many people who live in Oakland believe the demonstration is making an important point about economic injustice, but in Oakland, it turned into a violent clash between protesters and police.

"We just wish we could find a way beyond that," said Pastor Jim Hopkins.

Hopkins of the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church is an advocacy leader within the Oakland community. Hopkins said he watched in horror Tuesday night as images of violence and Frank Ogawa Plaza splashed across screens around the world.

The images of the police crackdown brought outrage from protesters and others as far away as Cairo and a city already down on its luck became fodder for late-night television.

"If I were Jon Stewart, I'd probably do the same thing," said Hopkins, "and that's the frustration because, the quality of the people in the city, seem to demand so much better."

Many see a lack of leadership from City Hall.

"I think we need better leaders," said Anya Silverman.

Some residents we spoke with in the Lakeshore District are scratching their heads about who they put in office. When asked if he agreed with how Oakland Mayor Jean Quan handled the situation on Tuesday, Rowley said "not at all."

"I think she's duplicitous as well as the councilmembers," Rowley said.

"It's always about political leadership and the people you assign to do key jobs," said former Oakland mayor candidate Don Perata.

Quan was pressured again at a Caltrans press conference for answers about how she handled the demonstrators at Occupy Oakland.

"I promised not to step on their toes," Quan said. "Please respect Caltrans' wishes on this."

Quan refused to give any answers at the press conference, but in a message to the media on Friday, Quan again apologized and added that "we can change America, but we must unite, not divide, our city."

That's a message that may come too late according to some critics who charge the mayor with caving in to political pressure and abandoning her activist supporter base.

A group has filed a petition for Quan's recall.


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