It would all be an amusing object lesson on the impotence of the welfare state, if not for the looming shadow of violence that hangs like stubborn Bay Area fog over the movement. In 2003, a like-minded mob of police-provoking anarchists, anti-war organizers and progressive activists descended on the Port of Oakland to coordinate a "Day of Action." They hurled concrete, wood and iron bolts at cops while attempting to block military shipments to soldiers in wartime -- and then whined about police brutality.
Fast-forward eight years. This week's "Day of Action" is spearheaded by the likes of Oakland rapper Boots Riley, a militant, self-declared "communist" who penned "5 Million Ways To Kill a CEO" ("Toss a dollar in the river and when he jump in/If you find he can swim, put lead boots on him and do it again") and "Lazy Muthaf**kas" ("You ain't never learned to drive or tie your shoe/I got my ear to the street and my eye on you/... You're a lazy **********! Lazy **********!). After the 9/11 attacks, I reported on Riley's appalling album cover depicting him partying in front of a doctored image of the World Trade Center being blown up.
Like fellow Occupier, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Oakland community organizer Van Jones, Riley has long stoked anti-police grievances. In "Pork and Beef," he rapped: "If you got beef with c-o-ps/Throw a Molotov at the p-i-gs."
Add to this toxic mix the thugs of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The planned march on Oakland's port is being billed as an expression of "solidarity with longshore workers in their struggle" against grain importer EGT. In Longview, Wash., wildcat union workers cut train brake lines, smashed windows, dumped grain and took hostages earlier this fall to protest the company's decision to employ not non-union workers, but workers from a competing shop. A federal judge fined the ILWU $250,000 after it defied a court restraining order. Even Obama's National Labor Relations Board was forced to issue a complaint against the union's "violent and aggressive" actions.
The unapologetic local union president vowed: "It's going to get worse before it gets better." Mark those words.