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October 26, 2011

(De-)Occupy Oakland: Role of the Cameras and Comparison to Arab Spring

Occupy Oakland hearts and minds 2

In Oakland, consistent with most Occupy cities and encampments, there are the most basic issues in play on the ground — free speech and right-to-assemble versus public health and safety, for example — pitting protesters (and, increasingly, the homeless jumbled in) against city officials and law enforcement.

At The Bag, however, what we’re primarily interested in is how the movement is expressing itself in social and commercial media, especially when all parties are hyper-aware of the cameras all around, ensuring that the movement and every engagement plays out on stage, the documenting of actions and the visual representation of those actions a very present and often mediating factor in in the actions themselves. If the “reality = media and media = reality” equation which found such robust expression last January during the Egypt uprising, what we’re seeing is the same dynamic playing out here-and-now between America’s physical and digital public square(s).

I encourage you to page through the 92 photos the Oakland Tribune posted of the decimation of the Occupy Oakland site on Tuesday. The complexities and concerns regarding the maintenance of these camps notwithstanding, I don’t thing the police understand the “perceptual violence” doled out by ripping those tents apart. Given the omnipresence and engagement of the cameras, however, I wanted to highlight this photos in particular, simultaneously illustrating: a.) the badness going down, and b.)  the recognition of the witnessing by the actors.

If it looks like the cop is pleading a case, that’s how much “the revolution will be interactive” … and we’re all right there.

  • BooksAlive

    The numbers and size of protests are growing: CBS’ radio news reported on both Oakland and Atlanta; Oakland’s mayor stressed the need to clear the area of rodents and trash and seeing the number of tents, it surely was significant. Will all that camping equipment go into the police resale pound?

    Among the photos of the Bay Area News Group, #8, documenting the scene on a tablet, stands out. Pushing a trash bin, photo #20, when it has wheels, seems odd and counterproductive while #91, protestors removing barricades, shows me what working as a team can accomplish.

    I’m impressed by how frequently the names of those arrested are published. Someone had time enough to speak to the persons. Here in Chicago, the protests in Grant Park are covered by TV reporters, and I’ve noticed that the leaders who speak for the group are identified by name.

    I’m more equipped to complain should I get another call from the Police Protective Fund asking for a donation. I let them send their material recently: the envelope reads “Protecting Those Who Protect Us.”

    • bks

       Searching Google News for “occupy”  and then sorting the results by date makes for compelling reading, Vancouver, Dallas, Denver, Sydney, London, Boston, Maine …  This is so much larger than the frumious “Tea Party”.


  • Gasho

    Awesome photo, first of all. I love the delayed flash effect used perfectly (the blur of the naturally lit scene and the crisp focus from the flash all in one). Nice.

    So what is the cop trying to say??  ”Jeeze – Look at all this FOOD! I can’t believe these peasants think they are allowed to feed themselves in public!! Clearly, you’ll agree that this has got to go!”

  • Anonymous

    Professor Dodgson’s spirit is very much alive in the forces feeding the urge to #Occupy against the frumious. Until an everyday statement of purpose evolves into pedestrian speech we can certainly borrow the Jabberwock’s:

    ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    I’d love to hear Bill O’Reilly lecture us on precisely how the borogoves are pinheads.

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