How did Oakland mayor Jean Quan go from being a progressive rabble rouser to being the kind of person that can order militarized police against peaceful, law-abiding protesters?
Jean Quan and the Death of Asian America | Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics
So, when Quan won the mayor’s seat last November, I and so many others were overjoyed not only that she had become Oakland’s first Asian American and first female mayor, but that Jean Quan the progressive activist had become mayor.
Why she decided to step onto the other side of the riot shield is a question that cannot be adequately answered now.
My disappointment and embarrassment for her aside, it would be unfair to characterize Quan as a tyrant, or unequivocally beholden to business and police interests. In fact, it's been precisely her ambivalence over Occupy Oakland that has provoked resignations and her alienation from city agencies -- especially the Oakland police. She has explicitly expressed support for the movement (as, to be sure, have so many mayors who also justified their endorsement of excessive force in the same gesture), and her husband (Floyd Huen, also a TWLF alum) and daughter have been considerably less ambivalent in their support of it. We might even take the divisions within the Quan family as a kind of parable of the American left.
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In a painful example of precisely the kind of tragic irony that the Occupy movement is trying to highlight, that same night, just a few miles from the thick of the demonstrations, Oakland’s school board voted to close five elementary schools in an attempt to save $2 million. The cost of the police actions for that day alone ran well over $1 million.
Along with the cost of last week’s actions, the total cost of police services rose to over $1.5 million. Considering how Occupy Oakland has made every attempt at cooperating with health and safety standards, and how its demonstrations have been largely peaceful, the costs seem not only unjustified, but somehow idiotic. I say “idiotic,” because it reminds me of that paradigmatic scene of idiocy from Steve Martin’s film The Jerk, when a barrage of gunshots fired at the main character miss him, hitting piles of cans instead, and which we can paraphrase like this: “They hate the tents! Stay away from the tents!”
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