As a participant in both the Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF movements, I have experienced three police raids on our camps. Residents’ tents and sleeping bags trampled, bookcases splintered, kitchens demolished, and all was thrown into dump trucks to be hauled to the city dump.
I understand the legitimate reasons for protestors to intentionally let themselves be arrested, to make a stand, and to not back down in the face of unchecked and unjustified aggression towards the movement. I also understand the necessity of our sustainable camps and the resources and facilities they bring to those who don’t have access to them under our current system, and the need for us to be physically occupying space in our protests. Considering this, but also realizing that our current modes of occupation leave both our resources and ourselves vulnerable to police attack, I propose a change of tactics.
Suppose, if instead of standing our ground every police raid and getting our gear smashed, our bodies beaten, and our friends arrested, we had a system of rapidly and effectively deconstructing our camps, so that they could be brought back the next morning after the police have left. What we need are guerilla tactics: having a committee in charge of organizing folks in the event of a police raid to rapidly dismantle and move the camp. Such a committee could see to it that kitchens and more permanent constructions were erected in ways which are easily deconstructed and can be quickly packed up, and that drivers and vehicles are on call and ready to move camp supplies, and that instructions are distributed in a timely manner before a raid.
Although we call ourselves occupiers, we are in effect the resistance, the resistance to oppressive and illegitimate aspects of our current oligarchical system and to the status quo as it stands. An effective resistance movement needs the ability to move about freely, and not be tied down to any one space for any given period of time. We should stop trying to fight the police on their terms. They will always have enough handcuffs, jail cells, and manpower to deal with our encampments as they exist now. So let them keep coming by the hundreds and “force” us out. We’ll just be back in the morning none the worse for wear.