It’s tough to assess an event that happened 3,000 miles away. But the photos and videos from Oakland, Calif., this morning look far more fitting for the streets of Syria than for an American city.
In other video and still images, linked to this New York Times report a protester bleeds from the head just above the eye, allegedly after being shot with a rubber bullet. Tear gas wafts across city streets. Explosions fill a smoke-filled square, one detonating in the midst of a group of protesters trying to help someone who fell or was knocked down. A young woman is wrestled roughly to the ground and handcuffed. The story also quotes police, who said they used neither rubber bullets nor flash grenades, and fired tear gas in response to protesters throwing bottles and rocks.
Still, these videos are worth watching. And they raise a series of question: Why did police feel the need to shut down this tent city? What prompted the use of tear gas and, if they were used, rubber bullets and flash grenades? Were police provoked? Did they overreact? Or both?
This event, which The Times quoted city officials as saying led to 97 arrests, came the same day as a crackdown at Atlanta’s Occupy encampment, where there was no resistance, that led to 53 arrests. Are police forces across the country heading toward a second, more confrontational phase to get protesters out of parks and off the streets? Why?
And the final question: How will Americans react to this news and these kind of images?