OAKLAND — Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, the city’s first Asian American mayor and a long-time community activist, has been widely criticized for her handling of the Occupy Oakland protests. Some of the criticism has come from her fellow activists, who released the following open letter on Nov. 1.
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Dear Mayor Jean Quan,
We first met you celebrating the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Asian America Political Association. As a former activist in the TWLF (Third World Liberation Front) student protests and Asian American movement of the 1960s, you helped to inspire and renew our commitment to the social justice movement. As founding members of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Alumni Association, we celebrated the legacy of the TWLF movement together with you.
This excitement continued into your mayoral campaign, where many members of the Alumni Association and young activists supported you in your run for office. We had hoped that with your election to being Oakland’s mayor would come a different style of leadership and a new vision for our community.
Today our sentiment is much different. We’re disappointed and angered to have witnessed the recent course of events that turned Oakland into a war zone.
While both of us peacefully protested the corporate greed and intensely unequal distribution of wealth which plagues American society, multiple canisters of tear gas exploded on us, along with rubber bullets and flash-bangs being shot into the crowd, sending us reeling for cover.
None of this much compares, however, to the life-threatening injuries endured by Iraq veteran Scott Olsen, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after being struck in the head.
Recalling the memories of the fight for Third World liberation and the government-sponsored violence that you and your fellow comrades faced, it is almost unbelievable to have fallen victim to such militant repression in the city in which you lead. It is a sad day. We once believed you to be an ally to low-income, communities of color; to progressive politics; to real democracy. What happened?
The Occupy Oakland movement is growing, and your constituency will not stand for such police brutality. You need to renew our faith in you as an ally to the progressive community.
Our open question to you: will you allow Occupy Oakland protesters to continue their peaceful assembly/encampment and will you back down from the use of police brutality now and in the future?
Susan Fang and Steve Woo
with endorsement from fellow alumni and Oakland residents:
Liz Del Sol
Miriam Ching Louie
Emily Jieming Lee