If you're paying any attention whatsoever to the national news, you've likely heard about the police ransacking the Occupy Oakland encampment during the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning with the full approval of our terrible mayor and then again attacking returning protesters on Tuesday night with flash bombs, tear gas grenades, rubber bullets, and bean bag bullets (which are actually filled with lead). I try not to get too political on this blog too often because no one wants to read the rants of a lady that has a self-admitted anger management problem, but y'all - THINGS ARE OUT OF CONTROL. (Strangely, this is the same mayor that doesn't want to treat thugs too badly but she apparently has no problem authorizing brute force against seemingly somewhat innocent protesters.)
In select groups I've been somewhat vocal about how I don't quite understand what the Occupy groups across the nation hope to accomplish. I've also taken issue with a lot of the "I am the 99%" signs I've seen posted across the Internet. You see, I graduated at the height of the dot-com bust. The parting words of my journalism and public relations professors? "Best of luck with that." There were quite literally NO jobs in Pittsburgh for anyone graduating that year. After a stint working as a glorified admin at the radio station I interned at, I found myself working at ... wait for it ... Pottery Barn. That radio job? I made $9/hour. That gig at Pottery Barn? I made $7/hour. Neither job was what I had in mind when I decided to go to college and make something out of myself. But you know what? I had bills to pay. I had things I wanted to buy. And so instead of sitting around and making signs about how unfair everything was and then posting them on the Internet (by the way, DIAL UP back then kids), I marched my ass down to the mall and applied at every single store that was hiring. This includes the perfume counter at Kauffmans even though I'm allergic to a lot of those damn perfumes. But apparently, these kids that are graduating with degrees in art history, philosophy, and poetry expected $65,000 jobs would be waiting for them the second someone handed them a diploma. My favorite "I am the 99%" sign was from some young man who had ambition to travel and see the world but the world is not fair and now his dreams of learning about other cultures and lands have been squashed. To him I say PBS. The Travel Channel. National Geographic. Travel is not a right, it is a privilege.
But I digress.
To say that I feel disconnected from these people and this movement is an understatement, which is interesting since I have generally always considered myself a Liberal. I am staunchly pro-choice. I support efforts to improve the environment. I firmly believe Women's Rights are under attack by ugly mean old white men in positions of power. I am a vocal proponent of the right for gay people to be able to marry the people they love. I actively support animal charities. If none of that, you'd think I'd show solidarity for this movement for no reason other than the fact that I think there should be a lot more Wall Street bankers in jail for the mortgage crisis they caused with their swindling and greed and the false hope they sold to millions of Americans. I do not think we should have bailed out Wall Street. It was supposed to prevent a financial crisis. Guess what we got anyway? That's right folks, a full blown financial crisis. Seems we could have saved ourselves some millions and just got right to it.
And for me (I don't claim to speak for Alan; he's generally much more zen about things), this whole housing crisis is a bit personal. You see, according to Zillow, our beautiful, lovely, wonderful house is nearly nearly $200,000 underwater. I could buy a whole other house in either of the areas where my sister or mom live for $200,000. Alas, Oakland is where I live. And I knew what we were getting into when we bought this place. I knew the market wasn't going to climb forever. But I didn't think it was going to plummet quite as much as it has these past three years. I never, ever, thought that I'd be looking at a hole this big. At this rate, we're never leaving this house.
So yeah, I should be angry. And I am, but just not in the way that I think many of the Occupiers are. The idea of General Assemblies is just so ... strange ... to me. And the messaging behind this whole movement? From where I'm coming from (that of a pretty successful communications professional) seems all kinds of backwards and detrimental to the cause. And let me be honest for a second: I kind of loathe hipsters and aging hippies freak me out.
All of this said, I was HORRIFIED when I watched - via Twitter - my city's cops pretty much attack the people they have been sworn to protect. And they weren't going rogue either. This was sanctioned by the Mayor's office. She of the "Hug a Thug" program who refuses to institute curfews or gang injunctions signed off on the brazen brutality shown against the citizens of her city. (Ah, here's Liberal Becky!)
Today the cops are claiming they never used rubber bullets or flash grenades. There are several YouTube videos showing the explosions, including one in the vicinity of a downed protester who turns out to be an Iraqi vet with two tours of duty in the Middle East. The man spends years in a war zone and comes home unarmed? He spends one night marching for better treatment of of our own country's citizens and he finds himself in the hospital in critical condition with a skull fracture? (He's sing been upgraded to stable condition, by the way.) There are photographs of people holding the rubber bullets and the bean bag bullets they also say they didn't use. They claim the protesters attacked them with M-80s. Want to guess where there's no evidence of at the riot site? Yeah, that'd be M-80s. I'm not saying the protesters were completely innocent. Unfortunately there is a group of anarchists in the area that are known for showing up at every single protest and inciting violence. People threw paint on the police blocking the road. There were likely bottles thrown. But still. They basically turned Downtown Oakland into a militarized zone beginning Tuesday night.
And you know what? Not one single politician has condemned the behavior. Hell, we can't even get a comment from the mayor. (Correction: she's issued one. It's half-hearted and incredibly short-sighted. It has PR written all over it.) Astonishingly - or not, depending on your point of view - Obama was across the bay in SF at a $7,500/plate fund raising dinner. He has nothing to say about this. Nancy Pelosi has nothing to say about this. Jerry Brown has nothing to say about this. Dianne Feinstein has nothing to say about this. Our leaders, through their silence, have failed to condemn the actions of our police department. And THAT is why people across the nation are calling for changes to our current system. It's just so effing sad that it took this to bring me around to the cause.
God I want out of this place. And by this place, I mean this city, this state, this country.
There is just sooooo much wrong with how we operate and how we treat our own people that it's sickening. I could choose to ignore it. I could go about my life - which is actually quite cushy all things considered - and pretend that it's not happening. It would be quite easy. We're well off financially. All of our friends are well off financially. We're a married white couple. Really, there are no obstacles in our way. But I just can't do that. I can't put my head in the sand and pretend that I live in the land of milk and honey, happiness and apple pie. I just can't ignore it.
Which is why I need to get out of here. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon, at least not while we're $200k underwater (and I'm sure the police attacking the citizens of the city is really going to help the housing market around these parts.) Unless, of course, one of those earthquakes we keep having decides to level the whole thing. Yeah, we had another one last night. Thankfully this time a combination of the flu, a fever, and some sleeping pills kept me calm and allowed me to go right back to sleep. Otherwise, I'm having problems sleeping again. You see, I'm pretty convinced The Big One is going to hit in the middle of the night and I'm going to be the only one awake and will therefore somehow be able to save my family. I'm the one with chronic insomnia so it falls on my shoulders to be our lookout. To be the one to make sure that Dakota doesn't get crushed by a falling bookcase. That Alan gets up out of bed and stands in a doorway. Have I mentioned that I also have chronic anxiety these days? Yeah, living in a war zone about to fall into the ocean will do that to a gal.
I'm thinking of running off to Tofino and buying this 450 square foot house boat that's for sale for $75,000. Think they'll take Mastercard?