The Occupy Wall Street movement has ebbed and flowed since its inception. And in the case of Occupy Oakland, an occupation silo consisting of 60 or so tents camped in front of City Hall, the effort has now entered a realm of utter contradiction and irony.
Though most of the nationwide occupations have remained peaceful, violence and vandalism of the sort seen in Oakland last week following the General Strike has led to greater overall confusion and debate among observers about the direction of the movement.
Recently, pundits, partisans, and business groups, have begun pleading with the movement to define itself or pack it up. Meanwhile, elected officials from all levels of government have delicately tried positioning themselves somewhere between "Power to the People" and "You ain't got to go home, but you got to get the hell outta here."
But the strangest twist in the nearly two month occupation was, evidently, still to come.
According to the minutes from Monday's meeting of Occupy Oakland's General Assembly, an "Emergency Finance Proposal" was on the agenda. The item to be discussed involved a recent $20,000 donation the group received from Occupy Wall Street (OWS).
The only stipulation OWS provided when making the donation was that the money "must only be used for legal and medical aid." But one thing they did not specify: where the money should be held.
Any guesses on where general assembly elected to place those $20,000?
If you guessed a local Oakland-based credit union, you would be wrong.
But if you guessed the very same bank which a handful of activists participating in the General Strike chose to vandalize during what city leaders and the mayor called a "beautiful" and "peaceful day" in Oakland, you would be absolutely right.
Yes, Wells Fargo Bank.
The author of the meeting agenda's noted the various pros and cons of the deposit issue within the document. They included:
· We need to go ahead and do this.
· This is time sensitive! People are in jail and need help!
· OWS wants us to put this money to good use.
· We have a priority to keep people safe.
· We shouldn't wait until arraignment. We should get them out now, and not wait for bail to be lowered.
· Money shouldn't be used for medical and bail needs. We have daily operations that need to be addressed here at the camp.
In the end, 95% of the voting members of Occupy Oakland agreed that until the group was able to establish an account with a credit union, and because of the urgency to get their fellow comrades out of jail as soon as possible, the banking institution many protesters consider the cause of the economic crisis and inequity will now occupy the movement's money.
Attempts to reach Michelle Mybelle for a comment via her Facebook account were unsuccessful.
It should be noted that Monday's vote came just two days after Occupy Wall Street urged supporters to participate in Move Your Money Project and Bank Transfer Day, a nationwide show of solidarity and action in which supporters were asked to move their money into a credit union and out of the major institutions such as Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.
David Goodner, an organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and a representative of Occupy Des Moines, was surprised to learn of the vote in Oakland.
"Seriously?" he said by email. "Why would they do that and not at a credit union?"
According to Goodner, Occupy Des Moines is also currently collecting monetary donations but keeps the money in an account at Village Credit Union, just blocks from their encampment near the state capital.
"We have a finance committee that deals with all financial matters on behalf of our group," he said.
According to their website and news reports, Occupy Des Moines has targeted Wells Fargo for direct action street protests.
Though reluctant to criticize another occupy group without more information, Goodner added, "I personally don't believe Occupy Des Moines would ever do business with a corporate crook and predatory lender like Wells Fargo."
Citizen journalist Michael J. Hunt is a political observer, trained in Oakland, now based in the Heartland. If you would like to contribute to the Huffington Post's coverage of American political life, contact www.offthebus.org.
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