The question was always going to be posed. How do you stop the police from physically dismantling your protest by sheer overwhelming force of arms? How can you uphold your right to protest when that right is gainsayed by tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds? When armed paramilitary police are running around like storm troopers - the cliche is appropriate - assaulting unarmed and non-violent protesters? When, having literally broken bones and smashed skulls, the chief of the police department can tell the press, "I think we allowed people to exercise their rights to free speech and free assembly"? And when the mayor - who was herself a target of Occupy Oakland's criticisms - can commend the police on a "a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated"?
The debates on LBO Talk suggest two reasons not to be surprised by the police action. The first is that local Democratic Party machines are just as apt to resort to repression as the Republicans; and the second is the proliferation of Joint Terrorism Task Force franchises throughout the police during the Bush era - as is typical, a 'counter-terrorist' weapon has been largely refined and used in combat with workers and the Left. So what can one do? If you resort to tooling up and having running battles with the police, like the Black Bloc do, the police always win. At any rate, the problem isn't ultimately kinetic force, it's political force. Even at the moment when the police bring out their weapons, the chances of their being successfully faced down depend on political organisation not weapons. It is at the level of politics that the problem has to be countered. Yet, if you try to work around it by negotiating with local authorities, the mayor's office etc, you may end up having making your protest inoffensive and ineffective, at which point you may as well pack up and go home. The bourgeoisie fears "mob rule" more than anything at this point - by which they mean, they fear a surfeit of democracy. If you're doing anything remotely effective, the ruling class should be put out.
As far as I can see, the only possible solution is the one opted for by Occupy Wall Street - broaden the movement within the working class. The tactical alliance with unions was probably decisive in stopping NYPD's attempt to 'clean up' Liberty Plaza. Even that isn't necessarily sufficient. The Oakland occupation was, until last night, one of the largest in the US. It had already made links with major unions, as well as with several other occupations across the country. Labour organizers had come along to help out. They were doing everything they could do, and making a success of it. But this didn't stop the police waiting until the early hours of morning, and going on the rampage against children, women in wheelchairs, whoever - the cops weren't there to discriminate, they were there to break limbs. Even so, if Occupy Oakland has a chance of reviving and facing down this terror, it is because of the organisational alliances they formed, the political support they assembled, and the coalition of forces willing to continue to support them.