by Rachel Swan
It's now fair to say that Mayor Jean Quan faces opposition on all sides. This morning the Alameda Labor Council issued a press release condemning the 5 a.m. police raid of Occupy Oakland, an encampment that thrived for two weeks outside of City Hall. The Labor Council criticized Quan and the city council for using city funds to bankroll the intricate tent-breaking operation, which required units from multiple counties and resulted in 85 arrests. The city said it had no choice but to shut down the tent city because of public-health problems (previous reports cited rodents and drug use), but the Labor Council called it an expensive and unnecessary action, intended solely to "silence the voices of the people." As the organization's executive secretary treasurer Josie Camacho wrote, "In a nation where 25 million people are out of work; where 50 million people have no access to health care; where one in five children grow up in poverty without adequate access to food, clothing and shelter; where funding for public education is gutted; where infrastructure is left to decay; and where millions of Americans have lost their homes due to foreclosure, this outrageous act to silence the voices of the protesters puts Mayor Quan and the City Council on the wrong side of history."
Whether or not Occupy Oakland was an effective way to address, let alone change, larger infrastructural problems remains a point of contention, given that the protest garnered a lot of bad press and became a favorite target for right-wing provocateurs. That said, it's a pretty big deal that labor, which has traditionally supported Quan, is now criticizing her move.