Whatever you may think of them, most of the Occupy Wherever protesters have been basically peaceful, if not always hygienic. And while mayors and police forces in various cities have looked the other way in terms of local ordinance violations (permits, overnight camping, etc.), other than some scattered incidents, the Occupy movement’s been more sound than fury, signifying…well, that’s in the eye of the beholder. One prominent exception to that, however, has been the nowhere that is Oakland…
Evidently taking their cue from the masked Starbucks-torching scum that orbit the G-10 and World Economic Forum Meetings, the Oakland Occupy rabble has been decidedly more violent than their comrades in other cities around the country. Something in the Bay Area water, perhaps?
Speaking on the Rachel Maddow show, lefty leviathan Michael Moore blamed the Oakland police. The filmaker told an Occupy Somewhere crowd that anyone inciting violence was most likely an agitator from a three-letter federal agency.
In any case, they decided to rampage through downtown Oakland late Wednesday night smashing windows, spray painting store fronts and setting small fires. Phil Tagami, who owns a historic building targeted by the rioters, was having none of it.
“We had people who attempted to break into our building,” the landmark Rotunda Building on Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall, Tagami said Thursday. He grabbed a shotgun that he usually keeps at home, went down to the ground floor and “discouraged them,” he said.
“I was standing there and they saw me there, and I lifted it – I didn’t point it – I just held it in my hands,” Tagami said. “And I just racked it, and they ran.”
Ah, the satisfying cla-chunk of a shotgun being racked. Is there a sweeter sound to a threatened property owner? Can anything else send rampaging anarchists running faster, leaving behind only a faint whiff of patchouli and B.O.?
City Administrator Deanna Santana apologized to business owners for the “chaotic events” that enveloped the city. Mayor Jean Quan called the rioters “a small and isolated group.”
“It shouldn’t mar the overall impact of the demonstration and the fact that people in the 99 percent movement demonstrated peacefully and, for the most part, were productive and very peaceful,” Quan said.
Thanks, Madame Mayor, but property owners like Tagami know a dangerous riot when they survive one. Try as you might, you can’t cover it over with a fig leaf of “peaceful protest.”
Tagami disagreed, calling the Occupy Oakland encampment “basically concealment and cover for anarchists who are doing this to our city.”
“We’re very concerned that a group of people can be allowed to do this type of destruction to our town and to our image without any repercussions,” Tagami said. “They need to be held accountable.” He rejected assertions that the anarchists were a small minority, saying, “No, you can’t have it both ways.”
Tagami added, “I support a peaceful protest. But it was a siege situation last night, and quite frankly, I’m glad we were here. But I never want to have to do that again.”
Our buddy Foghorn’s more of a fan of handguns when it comes to self defense situations and he has some good reasons. But like a lot of us, he also sees the value and effectiveness of a good scattergun when things get real. There’s not much doubt on which side Phil Tagami comes down in that debate, though.
Now if we can just figure out a way to profit from what Tagami’s taught us. It would be hard to think of a better rebuke to the anti-capitalists who almost trashed his property than making money from the developer’s experience.
If someone more computer-savvy than I can create a downloadable phone app called iRack – reproducing the sound of an 870 loading a cartridge at the touch of a mobile’s screen – we could all be rich.