On Sunday, December 14, 2014, we learned that members of the clergy in the Berkeley area were holding a Ferguson protest march. We went to cover the event and got a good shot. It showed a local clergyman holding a “Black Lives Matters” and due to the low angle it also included the Church belfry tower. We asked the minister his name and he declined to say and also added he did not think it would be a good photo to use. (Has he ever been a judge in the Greater Los Angeles Press Photographers’ monthly clip contest? We have.) We immediately had the thought that he might not want his congregation to know that he had participated in a protest to protect the rights of a wounded suspect to make a U-turn and charge at a pursuing police officer. We responded: “I can understand you wanting to disassociate yourself from this . . . (fill in the blank)______ .” You don’t have to ask twice to get the World’s Laziest Journalist to do less work. Unless you read the Revolution News, you won’t see any original material online about that particular protest in Berkeley.
On Saturday, the local NAACP leaders held a protest march in Oakland because they felt that the leadership of the Ferguson protests was being co-opted by white people in the Black Block movement, the anarchists and perhaps even the communists.
Also on Saturday a stunt at the University of California at Berkeley grabbed headlines by displaying large images of lynch mob victims with the sign reading: “I can’t breathe!” It was reported on Sunday on KCBS news radio that it was an art project created by some artists with African-American heritage.
Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton have arrived to garner their share of face time on the network evening news shows.
The chief of police for the Richmond CA Police Department made the news (at least locally) by showing up to a Ferguson protest in uniform and holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign. The Richmond Police promptly reminded the chief it is against department policy to participate in a political event while in uniform.
On Monday, December 15, 2014, protesters chained themselves together in Oakland and blocked roadways and entrances to the Oakland Police Headquarters. According to KCBS news radio it took “several hours” for the police to use bolt cutters to separate the protesters and then to arrest them.
Monday was also the 75th anniversary of the premiere of the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
Could the Oakland Police have worked slowly to help the protesters make their point . . . Or . . . could they have worked slowly as a way to increase the commuters’ frustration level and thereby generate more animosity which would be directed at the supporters of the protest against police violence?
One protester was quoted on KCBS as saying (paraphrasing here) that if people weren’t part of the protest then they were part of the problem and deserved to be late for work.
On Monday afternoon Oakland students from various local high schools held a protest at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in West Oakland and disrupted some people’s afternoon commute. They then walked to Lake Merritt for a candle light vigil. Did that cause even more disruption of the evening commute?
Apparently some protest strategists believe in a paraphrase of the old Vietnam era maxim: “When you got them by the traffic jam, their hearts and minds will follow.” . . . or not.
On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, the Berkeley City Council was scheduled to hold a meeting at the Lincoln school because they wanted to use the auditorium to accommodate a crowd that was expected to be much larger than usual. Citizens wanted to sound-off about police conduct during recent protests.
A rally was scheduled to precede the meeting. About 3 p.m. it a rain downpour started (cue the British cliché about tall cow/flat rock) and we reassessed the need to fact check by attending the city council meeting. We assumed that Rev. Whatzizname from Sunday would question the need to attend the city council meeting and immediately concurred. So we heard reports on Tuesday night on KCBS news radio that the rain may have suppressed attendance at the meeting but that some citizens were taking advantage of the chance to express their criticism of the recent use of teargas for crowd control.
According to what we heard on KCBS, Mayor Tom Bates promised that the complaints wouldn’t be ignored. The Berkeley City council moved to devote a meeting in January to the problem. The precise political term for this legislative move is called: “Kicking the can down the road.”
On the pop culture beat, it is interesting to note that with all the criticism of white police officers, we have not yet heard the word “honky” used once. (Is using that word a hate crime?) This week the word “culture” was named the word of the year. Some wags use the word Berkland to designate the Berkeley/Oakland border area.
Students at Berkeley went home for the Christmas Holiday break and by Thursday, December 18, 2014, KCBS was reporting that a protest march in Oakland featured about fifty protesters.
Japanese Company, SONY, changed the game for Americans by capitulating to terrorists’ demands and invalidating the sacrifices that Americans have made to accommodate the new Homeland Security era. According to one comment we heard, SONY will be refunded all their production costs by an insurance company, and thus prove that it was worth the new danger level Americans will have to adopt because of their greed.
We heard an outrageous rumor that the bookshop/gift store at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory was going to offer T-shirts showing portraits of Pretty Boy Floyd, Clyde Barrow, and John Dillinger and the words “White Lives Matter.”
Nationally a great amount of attention was focused on the announcement this week that diplomatic relations would be restored between the USA and Cuba.
One of the minor effects of this bit of news is that suddenly a visit to Hemingway’s home near Havana had vaulted to the top of our bucketlist.
Perhaps we could visit Key West for Hemingway Days and then get a chance to take a short flight and scratch visiting Finca Vega off the bucketlist.
Didn’t Pan Am get started with a route from Miami to Havana? Won’t there be a new opportunity for a small airline to provide that same service next year?
Didn’t the CIA’s staff at the station assigned to monitor Cuba and the Cuban exiles in Miami move to Saigon in the mid Sixties?
For our closing quote, we’ll note that Hunter S. Thompson wrote: “I’d like to get hold of some priests’ robes. . . . They might come in handy in Las Vegas. But there were no costume stores open, and we weren’t up to burglarizing a church.” (Roger that, HST!)
Now the disk jockey will play Lenny Bruce’s “the Berkeley Concert” in its entirety, Stan Freberg’s “Green Christmas,” and Nathalie Cardone’s version of “Haste Siempre, Comandante” (AKA the Che Guevara song). We have to go reread Norman Mailer’s “Algiers Motel Incident.” Have a “buy the ticket; take the ride” type week.