My Letter to the City of Oakland

Occupy Wall Street September 30 2011 - File Photo
Occupy Wall Street September 30 2011 – File Photo

I’ve watched the “Occupy Wall Street” movement from the start, and can’t help but being impressed with the way the protesters have handled themselves.  For the most part, they have conducted themselves with exemplary behavior.  However, the same cannot be said for the local governments and police departments.  Aside from New York, the worse is the City of Oakland, California.

After reading a diary post in “Daily Kos” by poster jpmassar’s titled “Occupy Oakland: The Vultures are Descending” I decided it was time I wrote a letter to the Oakland City Council.  It’s not much, but it’s all I can do for now in support of the brave people fighting for us.

Dear Oakland City Councilmembers,

I am an American Veteran, serving 22 years with the US Navy and now honorably retired.  During the 22 years I served on active duty, I periodically took an oath to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America.  The Constitution does in fact include the Bill of Rights, and the first amendment of the Bill of Rights states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Although retired from active service, I still honor my oath to serve and protect the Constitution.  So I am writing to you to remind you that as elected public officials, you also have an oath to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States.  That means upholding the basic right of American Citizens to exercise their rights of free speech and peacefully assembling to petition the government for a redress of grievances; even when you don’t particularly like what those American Citizens say.

As an American Citizen and a veteran, I am appalled at the way the Oakland Police Department, with police officers from nearby communities, have been allowed to treat American Citizens peacefully protesting under the banner of “Occupy Oakland.”  I am disgusted with your police force for the apparent attempted murder of Mr. Scott Olsen on October 25, and the police-instigated beating and subsequent denial of medical attention of Mr. Kayvan Sabeghi on November 3, in addition to the way the police have brutally attacked thousands of peaceful protesters over the past several weeks.  As elected officials, you are responsible for the conduct of your police.

Yes, On Wednesday, November 2, while an estimated 10,000 people peacefully protested, an estimated 100 people started fires and fights with a few police officers.  The fact that one percent of the people protesting turned violent does not give elected officials or law enforcement officer the justification to abridge the first amendment rights of the other 9,900 people.

I also point out that the tremendous cost of maintaining a huge police presence, fully outfitted in riot gear, at peaceful protests is a decision made by the Oakland City mayor and you members of the City Council.  There has been no conduct by the American Citizens participating in “Occupy Oakland” that justifies this huge police presence.

I am watching your conduct.  In fact, the entire world is watching your conduct.  What you do reflects upon the United States of America.  You are expected to treat the peaceful protesters in Oakland just a little bit better than the governments of Syria and China treat their protesters.

I e-mailed this letter to the city council members and their aids using the e-mail addresses provided in jpmassar’s source diary.  I’ve also cross-posted this letter in Daily Kos at:  My Letter to the Oakland City Council.  I didn’t make the Rec List, but I did get some nice feedback and comments and jpmassar actually updated his diary to include a link to my letter.

What I wrote in this letter I sincerely mean.  Agree with the protesters, disagree with the protesters; they still have the right to exercise free speech and peacefully assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  Of course, it’s probably pretty obvious that I stand with the 99 percent.

Update Nov 15:  After reading the actions of the New York Police department this morning I’ve decided to use this letter as a template to other city councils and mayors, in support of Occupy Wall Street.

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