Never before has the line between activist and journalist been so blurred — but, then again, never has there been a movement quite like Occupy. This was, after all, the first large-scale social movement that came with the social web, the 24-hour news cycle, and the ability to transmit images and ideas cheaply, easily, and practically instantly around the world. In Oakland, a small group of people — some with activism or journalism backgrounds, a few with both, many with neither — managed to harness this power — and responsibility — in a way that had deep impacts not just for the Ogawa encampment and local activists, but, indeed, for Oakland at large and the Occupy Wall Street movement as a whole. They were there when Scott Olsen was hit and when the Port was shut down and when the entire city felt like it was about to explode; when the entire thing started and long after the mainstream media left; when livestreaming meant a significant sacrifice of money, time, sanity, and, all too often, physical safety. They were out in the streets and then, increasingly, they were in City Hall chambers, offering their own records of what happened at critical junctures — records that often felt more reliable than the city's and the Oakland Police Department's. They showed people as close as City Hall and as far away as Cairo what was happening in Oakland, unedited and in real time. And they did all this largely for free, with little recognition, all in the name of a simple but potent political philosophy: That sunshine really is the best disinfectant, and that the truth is the most powerful tool any activist has.
© 2017 East Bay Express