Earlier this afternoon, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf held a press conference in front of City Hall to lecture protesters about violence connected to last night’s anti-Trump protests. Schaaf and Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney offered the usual boilerplate, telling the cameras that violence wasn’t the answer, we’re all a community, etc, etc. As usual in these situations, however, the primary protesters weren’t the ones responsible:
But at some point, police said, the large group splintered off into smaller factions, and some of those people began trashing businesses. Oakland is often Ground Zero for protests. Over the last year or so, Black Lives Matter protests have turned rowdy as people called for justice after African-American men have died across the United States at the hands of police. The Occupy movement is also very strong in this city of 400,000. Those protests have also damaged small businesses.
Notice how the article mentions “smaller factions” being responsible for property damage, but then pivots back to tying Black Lives Matter and Occupy to violence. These smaller factions are common at social justice protests/actions, especially ones against state/police terror. They usually emerge late in the protest, after sunset, obscuring their faces. Many are anarchists looking to tag or burn whatever catches their attention, but undercover police are usually in the mix, too. One such undercover cop pulled a gun on protesters two years ago in Oakland after he was uncovered. This violence is always the cue for police to rush en masse, assaulting and arresting anyone in their path. No matter how peaceful or orderly a protest is, once these agent provocateurs go into action everything instantly becomes riot porn.
City leaders and police never focus on this, though, because they need public opinion leveraged against organizers, protesters and their mission. Blaming anarchist violence on the main protest is one way of doing this, as is sending in undercover cops to encourage violence. Meanwhile, corporate media outlets spread the narrative that protesters are just throwing violent tantrums and should be expressing their anger in more productive ways, those dictated to them by the state.