Thursday, January 15, 2009

Questions for Peaceful Protesters

1. Are there many people in Oakland who think what happened at Fruitvale Station New Years Day was acceptable? If so, will their opinions be changed by these protests?

2. Will the outcome of the trial be changed by these protests?

3. Is it possible that people who are sympathetic to the cause are now so disgusted with the behavior of some of the protesters that they don't want to hear about the case any more?

4. Is it in your interest as peaceful protesters to issue the most strident condemnations of the rioters?

Everyone understands that the crimes are being committed by a small subset of the people who show up for the protests. That doesn't mitigate their impact on the people whose lives are being derailed. Some of the rioters I saw in the footage of the January 14th riot were smiling and laughing. Grieving for Oscar Grant? Angry at The System? There is no indication that they were doing anything but finding an excuse to break windows.

Our right to protest is predicated on our ability to assemble peaceably. After two protests with rioting, you've established a pattern. As with any killing, I demand that justice be done in the case of Johannes Mehserle. And at this point, as a citizen of Oakland, I also support police efforts to stop further demonstrations. The people of Oakland have experienced three tragedies so far - a police shooting, and two spates of property destruction. We don't need more.

If you want to help Oakland, get involved in city affairs and volunteer at times other than when your face will be on TV - and patronize businesses in the riot zone.

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