Countdown's Keith Olbermann talked to former legal adviser for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Dan Siegel, about his decision to resign his position over Monday's police raid of Occupy Oakland that Diane wrote about here at our Occupy America sister site -- Riot Police Evict Occupy Oakland:
His Facebook post: "No longer Mayor Quan's legal adviser. Resigned at 2 am. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators."
Siegel and Quan have been friends for decades, since they attended University of California, Berkeley together. Siegel was on Quan's transition team before she took office in January and stayed on as an adviser after that, drawing controversy when he openly opposed a gang injunction policy sought by the city attorney.
Siegel expressed his support for the Occupy Oakland protesters and explained his decision to leave to Olbermann:
SIEGAL: You know, I just felt that we had gotten to the point where we weren't on the same page. I think the city should have supported the Occupy movement in Oakland. It really does represent the 99 percent of Oakland residents who are struggling with joblessness, poverty, unemployment, foreclosures, high student loans and so on. And we should be friendly to them, not try to push them out.
I also think it's pointless. This is a tremendous movement which as you described is building across the country. And just trying to bully them or dispossess them is not going to have a positive effect. It will just waste millions of dollars and bring a lot of disrepute on our city.
When asked if city officials had a valid point with any of their complaints about the camp, Siegel explained that one of the their issues was likely the fact that they normally can ignore homelessness and poverty and aren't forced to look at it as they were with the Occupy Oakland camps and that the city had not done enough to engage the protesters or their list of grievances.
Siegel said he felt Mayor Quan was responding to pressure from business interests and some of the more conservative members of the city council and that she was pushed by the City Administrator and the police chief to close the camps, against what he felt were contrary to her own values and political instincts.
Keith asked Siegel about the shooting victim last week and whether city officials claims that the shooting was related to the Occupy camp had any validity or whether it was just a convenient excuse to shut the camp down.
SIEGEL: You know, I think it was definitely a convenient excuse. This young man who was the victim of the shooting apparently had hung around the camp a little bit for a few days, but he wasn't really engaged as one of the Occupy activists. He got into a dispute with a couple of other young men and they called a friend who came with a gun and shot him. Which is really terrible.
But Keith, when you look at the fact that there have been a hundred murders in Oakland this year, mostly among young groups of men of color and people don't notice those because they're out in East Oakland or West Oakland where big business people don't have to look at them and are easily ignored... I'm not suggesting the Mayor ignores them. She's been very positive in terms of finding solutions to crime. But this was unfortunately, an all too typical Oakland event, and I think it became an excuse for moving on the camp.