On Monday, San Francisco's own Mother Jones reporter Gavin Aronsen appeared on Current TV with Cenk Uygur to discuss his recent arrest at Saturday's Occupy Oakland protest and the growing anarchist movement that has made the Oakland protests especially controversial.
Saturday's protest was the most heated confrontation between police and Occupy protesters since November, and included tear gas, flash grenades and bean bags once again. (Loyal readers might remember the 100-point-font 'F*CK THE POLICE' banner that graced HuffPost SF.) But the protest was also marked by a heavy anarchist presence that included graffiti, a break-in at City Hall and the burning of an American flag.
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"When I was at Occupy Oakland I saw some anarchists that I thought were a little different and a little bit more aggressive than I've seen at other occupies," said Uygur. "Am I right about that?"
"There's kind of a perverse relationship between a police department that's possibly about to go under federal receivership for civil rights violations that predate the Occupy movement and these protesters who are fighting back," replied Aronsen. At several recent marches, protesters have broken out in chants of "Oscar Grant" and "f*ck the police," indicative of the underlying tensions that indeed predate Occupy Oakland.
Such tensions have also led to confusion over how authorities should handle the local movement. While police are forced to respond to building takeovers and City Hall break-ins, the brutality of the Oakland Police Department's response has been criticized nationally, and may have contributed to Oakland potentially losing control of its police force.
On Saturday, Aronsen was arrested alongside 400 protesters and several other journalists with press credentials -- an arrest that Aronsen claimed was in direct violation of the OPD's media relations policy, and that the Newspaper Guild blasted in a letter to Mayor Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan.
"Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action."
But Aronsen, along with several other journalists, was arrested. Did the Department intentionally disregard its own policy? Were the arresting officers misinformed? Or is "unduly interference" up for interpretation?
"The Oakland Police Department says that their policy was established before social media really took off," said Aronsen to The Huffington Post. "This is typical of the ambiguity surrounding the situation. When I was released, the public information officer even told me that they are not supposed to arrest journalists." According to Aronsen, the OPD's blundering is also indicative of a more widespread clash between media and authorities. "Across the country we've seen journalists kept out of the camp raids so they can't tell what's going on inside. I don't think that's acceptable either."
Watch Gavin Aronsen on Current TV's The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur in the clip below:
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