Back in 2010, during the Oscar Grant protest, I had some thoughts about the power of numbers, and the people who participate, or don’t participate in protest around Oakland.
After my time today in front of Oakland’s City Hall, and Frank O. Plaza, or Oscar Grant Plaza, depending how your perspective, I wanted to expand on those thoughts.
First off, I currently live in Downtown Oakland, Uptown area to be specific. I consider this my neighborhood (although I’m originally from high st.). I have been around, or in-tune for nearly every Occupy Oakland protest. I am not however, an active participant, however you may describe that, although I share many of the expressed sentiments.
But one thing that really gets under my skin is the number of professional on-lookers, and media outlets, or “journalist” that tend to complain, or spin the activities or situations for their own personal experience, but complain about being subject to Oakland Police policy and tactics, as if they are exempt from everything young people in Oakland have had to endure for decades.
At the root of it all, if you removed the number of on-lookers who aren’t really out to make a major social change, I have a huge hunch that the total number of people who were actually in the streets would decrease drastically. Thus making it easier for the police to actually FIND the people and contain the people who are out and up to no good. If you have good or great intentions, you likely shouldn’t be in the mix of a crowd with people with ill intentions. Easier said than done I’m sure, but now after spending 29 years of my life in Oakland, it is really not that difficult.
I want to see my city change for the better, and for the positive. I don’t want to see a bunch of out of town Gawkers, troublemakers and unprofessional journalist ruin our image any further than our actual citizens do for themselves. We don’t need the added negatively or stress.
Go home, go back to your university, go back to your apartment. Go back to where you came from, and shed a positive light on a scenario. Don’t stick around and add to the negativity hoping that you’ll get a good photo, video, TwitPic or interview from someone less mentally stable in efforts to help your online presence, or journalistic “career”
Today I’ve witnessed a group of grad-school journalist from UC Berkeley J-School non-the-less (I am a Bear) sit around, joke and debate about how unorganized the Occupy Movement is, but yet they were the ones standing around waiting on a “leader” to tell them what they were going to do. The truth of the matter was, they were equally lost and unorganized, but not really out there to help any true social cause. Simply to “work” and better their “career”. That’s bothersome.
I understand the need for true and good journalist. I understand the need for 1st person accounts of major social events. I even understand the desire to better ones professional career, and the indulgence of experience. But I do not always condone it, and here is one of those situations.
The power of numbers is amazing, and can be interpreted in an uncountable amount of ways. Please don’t be the catalyst for even more negative ways.
—————————- RE: JULY 9, 2010 ——————
I am 27 years old, I’ve lived in Oakland all my life. I grew up in Oakland, and it’s safe for me to say that I have experienced Oakland. I have had my share in mass gatherings, I’ve had my share of interactions with the Oakland Police. It is safe for me to say that I am no fan of the feeling I get when I come in contact with the Oakland Police.
With that said, after doing a lot of reading, shifting through news coverage, searching through twitter data, viewing live twitpics and videos from mobile phones in the Downtown Oakland area…the power of numbers continues to intrigue me.
It all was based on a random thought or premise that the number of people who gathered in Oakland, really weren’t gathering to make a point. They were gathering for a personal experience.
How many people would have actually been in Downtown Oakland if the following were removed?
- People who wanted to simply take a twitpic (The digital age rubber-neckers)
- The people who weren’t willing to be arrested
- The people who were involved with a media/news outlet
- The modern day Bloggers
I have a feeling, that if you removed these people from the area Downtown Oakland, the scene would have been a lot more desert, baron, and controllable. The crowd would have obviously been smaller, and law enforcement would have been able to easily spot those who proved to be a real violent and rioting threat.
It makes me sad that in a city such as Oakland, with such a historically powerful voice in modern America’s civil liberties and injustice is so easily flawed by people who truly aren’t down for “The ‘Cause”. People seem to flock to downtown as if there was a mass parade and fan fare celebrating some great holiday.
My theory is, if you removed those who I listed, who really would be left?
I’ve been that person, digitally rubber-necking, trying to capture my experience in photos and tweets. But realistically…when you’re doing that, you simply make the numbers of people gathering rise and the situation look worse than it may really be.
I’d go out on a limb and say the MAJORITY, of people who were in Downtown Oakland fall somewhere on the list above (which of course can be amended and more worthless categories of people added).
When you take away those numbers of people, who’s really left? What type of standoff would that have been?
Honestly, downtown Oakland was crowded with a bunch of social on-lookers, waiting to see what other people would do, willing to take no action themselves. Not very many people willing to do anything drastic, or violent, or assume any form of leadership role to help guide the mis-guided in a positive or negative direction, Neutralist you might say.
My honest opinion….most people were simply in the way, and trying to enjoy the chaos so they could have a story to tell. Rather that story be for profit, for blogging, or for personal reasons…story chasers never seem to write their own chapters or novels, their life remains a opt-ed article, viewed, heard but providing no long-term affect.
and to the Neutralist, I say with passion…
YOU WERE IN THE WAY, and you raised the numbers of people standing around, making a situation seem a lot worse than what it truly should have been.
Simply to take a twitpic? …metaphorically …and realistically speaking…I hope the number of views you get are well worth it…because that’s what it’s all about in the long run…the numbers…no? Number of photo or article views? Television ratings? Papers sold?
You aren’t willing to make change, you aren’t willing to stick your neck out on the frontline for social injustice. You simply want to document it or what happens…to help improve or sustain your numbers….
Get out the way.