Private Danny Chen, and why I will never again reach out to OWS about something that matters to me

By Guest Contributor Esther Choi, cross-posted from Some Thoughts …

I can’t stress enough that the following article only represents my opinions as an individual, and are not to be affiliated with any other person, organization or community.

December 15, 2011

Tonight was the march and vigil for Private Danny Chen, who was killed in the army on October 3, 2011. We don’t know how he died. The army is withholding all evidence, which it owes to the family, that could answer this question. What we do know is that he did not die in combat. We know he was constantly harassed and discriminated against by his fellow soldiers for being Chinese. We know some really twisted, violent hazing was committed against him by his superiors, right before he was found dead. We decided to hold a march and vigil because the army is currently carrying out an investigation, and we have to show them that the public is watching and that they cannot get away with another cover-up.

Just yesterday, board members of OCA-NY along with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Council Member Margaret Chin went to the Pentagon to meet with high-ranking army officials, where they made demands that may fundamentally transform the way that hazing and bias crimes are dealt with in the military. We need them to know that the public and the media are watching, and that if they do not meet our demands, we will redirect our campaign to focus on our young men and women who are thinking of enlisting. These young people need to know before they enlist, the Army will not protect them from harm by fellow soldiers.

Before the vigil, we reached out to many organizations to support, and 36 signed onto our cause. We also reached out to Occupy Wall Street because justice and government transparency are in its mission, and we thought we could use the numbers and networks in OWS to bring out more support for our vigil, and we also wanted to show our solidarity with OWS.

So imagine my surprise when protesters from OWS showed up with OWS signs, not to stand with others lining up for the march to Columbus Park in support, but to stand in front of everyone, trying to direct them. These people, who had not, until that very moment, put in one bit of effort into organizing this action, who had no idea what the plan was, who had no idea who we were or who the family was, decided that they were going to make this an OWS event.

Conflict erupted when one of the OWS-affiliated protesters came with a giant Communist Party of China flag. This white man decided that he was entitled to represent us, at this protest for an American soldier, with a flag that has been used by this country to vilify the Chinese American community. When people began asking him not to demonstrate that flag because it was not the purpose of the event and we were in no way representing China or political parties, he began screaming at us about how we were ANTI-COMMUNIST and trying to take away his first amendment rights. We told him that Danny Chen was an American soldier and we wanted to respect the family and their wishes, but he continued screaming violent accusations at us at the top of his lungs and disrupting the event, until one of Danny Chen’s family members, on the verge of tears, finally convinced him to leave.

Then I overheard another OWS protester, who had earlier been trying to direct the protesters, give a video interview, and heard him saying, ever so solemnly, “They don’t want me here.” My question is: who are we and who are you? How do you expect to be welcomed as one of “us” when you have, from the beginning, made every effort to set yourself apart? Why do you think that you as an individual should be primary in this march for Private Danny Chen and his family? Why are you here giving video interviews?

Another white OWS protester began trying to use the human mic to direct the protest, and told me that I shouldn’t be using the blowhorn because the cops were going to take it away. I told her that, no, we had a parade permit and sound permit, which was why the police were there clearing the streets for our march. She looked confused and stopped yelling.

OWS protesters often make it seem like they are the birth of social justice activism, that they are here to teach us how to protest because none of us know what the fuck we are doing and need their wealth of experience to help us out. I was not at all surprised when that woman so naturally assumed that she, as a white woman, knew better than me – she thought that I had found a blowhorn somewhere and decided to play around with it. It didn’t occur to her that we had been planning this for weeks and thinking critically about every step, that it was led by a civil rights organization that has been at work for decades, that we had applied for 4 different kinds of permits so that our event could safely and effectively achieve its purpose.

The actions of these OWS protesters showed that they were at the march and vigil, not to show their support for Danny Chen’s family or the ongoing work on their case, but to provoke and garner attention for themselves and their brand, and then try to turn our strategic work and planning into a nonsensical, self-righteous tantrum. They acted like tourists on vacation in the social justice world, and our efforts and long-term goals were expendable in light of their self-interested pursuit of an interesting experience.

This is the problem I’ve always had with OWS—that it was a movement that came to earth as Christ himself, here to save us, to make the history of struggle, and the ongoing social justice work in this country by marginalized communities, irrelevant, and then to take the moral high ground and act as if we were the face of THEIR oppression when we took issue with their tactics.

I understand many people who came to the vigil from OWS were there with the right intentions, and it was great to have their support and solidarity. But these incidents of ignorance from OWS have been way too frequent and predictable to be isolated events. These incidents show that the OWS movement, while creating new opportunities to change the unjust world we live in, is, in many ways, the beloved child of our racist, sexist, intolerant capitalist society.

As marginalized people in this country rise, new forms of oppression are at work – those who have not experienced systemic oppression are claiming it anyway, turning social justice on its head and diluting the messages and movements that have been our hearts and souls. I think this quote from the New Jim Crow sheds a lot of light on why OWS emerged the way that it did: “Following the collapse of each system of control, there has been a period of confusion—transition—in which those who are most committed to racial hierarchy search for new means to achieve their goals within the rules of the game as currently defined. It is during this period of uncertainty that the backlash intensifies and a new form of racialized social control begins to take hold.”

I tried to love the movement. Since I wrote about OWS last, I’ve been attending OWS meetings and marches. I reached out to OWS about this action. I tried so hard to understand the movement, to check my own biases and question any negative feelings I had towards it, to engage with it as much as time would allow. I had so many conversations with people in OWS spaces, which usually just left me feeling perplexed, as the basic factors involved in social and economic inequity always seemed to be news to the people I was speaking to or a curious piece of trivia to be quickly passed over, and people would instead start talking to me about things like herbal medicine as if I had any fucking clue, or would say really ignorant things that would leave me feeling attacked.

I deal with ignorant bigots every day and am willing to do so as part of my own commitment to my work, but when bigots come posing as allies and then very dramatically play the martyr when we call out their bullshit, it really derails our ability to do our work.

I now realize that my time cannot be wasted trying to work in spaces that are paralyzed by ignorance. I will continue to engage in my activism using my experiences and empathy to guide the way I choose to live and work. But I’ll choose to do it in spaces where bigotry, drama, and ignorance do not masquerade as the thing I love. And I’ll choose to work with people who join community actions to respect and support those communities, not to objectify and use them as ornaments for their movement bereft of genuine compassion and understanding.

Besides the oppression brought by some OWS protesters, the march and vigil were beautiful. Over 400 people came out, and the interactions were passionate and heartfelt. I am proud to be an Asian American and glad to be involved in the struggle for a military and a world that does not ruthlessly exclude and exterminate those who are different in any way. I feel blessed to have a fierce mentor who, during the meeting with the Pentagon, told the Assistant Secretary of the Army to sit back down when he tried to leave their meeting early, and he actually listened. I think that our capacity for resistance is growing and we are finally feeling empowered and entitled in this country. We have taken far too much shit, and we are unapologetically asking to be seen as fully human. I am excited for the future of our communities and look forward to growing with each other and our true allies, and despite the importance of building relationships with the more enfranchised, we should never have to tolerate that kind of oppression, least of all in the spaces where we are trying to fight it.

Photos courtesy of Kwong Eng

Click here for coverage about the march and vigil.

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this one, Esther wrote a second piece. She wanted to center Danny Chen and the struggle for justice and not OWS. Also, in the time between the articles, eight soliders were charged in the death of Danny Chen, meaning that some progress was made. Click here to read “Private Danny Chen and threats to justice everywhere.” Next time the Chen case surfaces up in the news cycle, we’ll post the full piece here. – LDP

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  • Yuh-Line Niou

    great breakdown of thoughts. thank you.

  • make my day

    Thanks for this article

  • Erin Winslow

    I wish you had mentioned this in your article because it certainly puts matters in a different light!  Obviously these people, whether OWS or pprovocateurs, were way out of line in their behaviour at your event. 

  • Adam

    Sue, I admire that you blog to help others, but your laundry list response here is similar to “some of my best friends are black.”

    Perhaps the loud man was being sexist, but why are you accusing a person of color of sexism when he points out your racism? Your blog will be stronger if you do some humble introspection instead of evading.

  • Khujeci Tomai

    “Please don’t tell me what I have to do”? But you just TOLD US what we have to do! According to you, we have to give Gary “kindness, compassion, and HELP” even though he is a deliberate provocateur who has been continually disruptive to the movement. And give me a break on the cops bashing his head in being the reason he is the way he is. If so, why does he always take out his aggression, not on cops (no, never, crazy like a fox) but instead on the smallest, most helpless, nervous person around (by the way often people of color) and always when there is no one else to stop him.  

  • Eric

    this is the no true scottsman fallacy at work.

  • esther

    sue, please stop assuming with no evidence that 1) this was a hijacking and 2) you have something to teach me.

    from my actual experiences at the event + all i’ve heard from ows people after the fact, this was not a hijacking. our event was not hijacked, just disrupted by disrespectful and self-entitled behavior of some OWS protesters, and we dealt with it just fine. in the words of an OWSer who was actually there, “I was there photographing the action and must admit the article is
    right, in our effort not to be co-opted we tend to try to take over
    instead of being a group that supports in the crowd. Did not see any OWS
    solidarity signs saying “We are Danny Chen” for example. We just tried
    to front the march and got upset when the organizers asked us to step
    back, listen to the organizers and join the group of marchers instead.” you can’t just keep calling everyone hijackers especially if they are deeply and meaningfully involved in OWS work. your response really illustrates the problematic aspects of this movement.

    also, educate yourself on the word racist:

  • Maral Bavakan

    thank you for this. your words ring to my frustrations as well. i was there for the vigil and i got really sad/pissed off toward the end when the man holding the chinese flag and his entourage called out to me and said “hey occupier! where are you going?”  when i was on my way out. and i was shocked! first to be presumed as part of OWS because sadly i was one of very few non-asian allies at the march, and second to be associated with “occupying” anything! and i just realized that that’s what these people were doing there…they were occupying private danny chen’s vigil. i have not been to any OWS marches, assemblies, or anything. and i really should/should have gone before i can hate on them. so i’m not gonna hate on them. i realize that these were a few people who identified themselves with the OWS movement and that there has been a lot of work being done that i would stand in solidarity with at OWS. nevertheless, we need to stay awake and continue critiquing this movement because it is not perfect and it cannot/should not walk over other movements to reach its goals.

  • newmexicosara

    I really appreciate your article and speaking out. I too have had this problem with some people who identify with OWS. They are new to any social justice work, excited by the “brand”, and have very little analysis especially the history of work by people of color and systemic racism. I am still participating in OWS work with people of color, and several white people have left because they said we are being divisive and making them feel bad for being white, despite the fact we’ve never personalized the issues of systemic racism to them. I hope I’ll have the energy to continue on despite ignorance of some of the people attracted to OWS work.

  • Digital Coyote

    We’re talking about a movement that acts like abuse from police has never happened to anyone else in the history of America.  Are you really surprised by how they’re responding to people calling them out on trying to take over someone else’s organized protest–and marginalizing the PoC they claim solidarity with–they like this?

  • Anonymous

    Amen, PatrickInBeijing.

    It is all well and good to distance oneself or OWS from  jerkfaces attaching themselves to the activities or disclaiming provocateurs but wherever gratuitous violence and incendiary rhetoric comes from , within or without, it needs to be shut down unequivocally by the larger group.
     So does this useless, creepy hijacking stuff like Ms Choi is writing about here.
    A number of years ago I was visiting the small town I lived in during college years and attended a rally on the heels of the Headwaters Forest deal. ( Anyone interested in the timber wars on the far north coast of CA can google Pacific Lumber Company, MAXAAM Corp, Charles Hurwitz, Judi Bari, and Tim McKay amongst others )
     I was there to hear Tim McKay whom I liked and admired until his all too early passing a few years ago.The bulk of the speakers were associated with Earth First! as was most of the crowd.Under Judi Bari’s watch that group of Earth First!ers had come down strongly against tree spiking and other forms of monkey wrenching which could hurt loggers but I can’t say I had much sympathy for the tree sits and all they employed.It is/was a consensus decision based group- a form of organization which OWS is usingand which has some resonance for me as it more closely resembles the process my Alaska Native forbears used for thousands of  years to conduct public business as opposed to the hierarchial and often top-down way our larger society is structured.Some guy started hollering ” Kill Hurwitz! Kill the SOB!” a couple yards from me. While the crowd started edging away from him, 6 women in yellow armbands moved in and surrounded him. As close as I was I couldn’t hear what they were saying to him but he quieted and they edged him through the crowd towards local police on the periphery, where he stayed calmly.I asked folks around me what the yellow armband thing was and the 2 who spoke up said they were “peacekeepers” trained to keep group gatherings from becoming moblike by defusing or removing folks who were getting out of control.As goofy as I thought/still think some of the antics and ideas that group had/has the “peacekeeping” thing has stuck with me.
    OWS seems, at this point, to be unable to take itself to task over the intersection of individual and community behavior.

    • PatrickInBeijing

      Thanks for explaining in detail how to deal with problem people.  Every group that opens its doors to the entire public may attract people with problems.  But as you so wisely point out, there are non-violent ways to deal with them.  And we must.

      I do want to address the specifics of this young man.  As I live in Beijing (I am a white American citizen), I share a different relationship to the Chinese flag.  But this young man was not representing Chinese people or a nation, but only his misguided feelings about his life in the United States (I doubt he has ever been to China).  Three things.  One, he must not be allowed to express his problems in a way that harms others.  Two, we need to recognize that he is a sign of the failure of American culture in the sense that he is lost and alienated (it sounds like more personally than politically), so in that sense he is a victim, but it doesn’t give him license to stop the world (although his white privilege may have led him to think so) Three, I want to honor Danny Chen, but at the same time, not use his murder to attack China.  It wasn’t China that killed him (and China is NOT one thing).  While honoring his families personal decisions in regards to where they need to live, and how, I want at the same time to disagree with the ongoing and continual China bashing that occurs in America.  It is reflective of a bias towards China that has existed since white people first “discovered” China.  It is also reflective of certain political trends in American society (the search for a scapegoat to replace the Soviet Union, for example).  Finally, I want to note that in all probability, the anti-Chinese trend in America contributed to the ignorance and prejudice which led Danny Chen’s murderers to attack and torture him.


    That guy who walks around with the giant Chinese flag spewing crap-speach about Communism has been at OWS since the beginning.  He’s mentally insane, and seems to be homeless.  Very unfortunate that he had to come and mar your event for Private Danny Chen.  As for the other OWS people who felt the right to try to usurp your march, they have even less of an excuse and should feel ashamed.  I’d like to see OWS make more of an effort to inform their supporters what types of events they are being ferried to, and how they can be helpful there instead of just detract from the real purpose of the march.  

    • Angel H.

      That guy who walks around with the giant Chinese flag spewing crap-speach about Communism has been at OWS since the beginning.  He’s mentally insane, and seems to be homeless.

      Y’know, sometimes an asshole is just an asshole. So can we please stop making armchair diagnoses about this man’s mental health? Even if he is mentally ill and homeless, that’s not a good enough reason not to discount his involvement in OWS. (Especially since homeless people had been arrested in the past for occupying the spaces now taken up by OWS.)

  • Sue Basko

    Yes, reading this, it sounds as  if this was a coordinated effort to hijack your event.  At bars, there are bouncers to kick out disruptive people.  At  parties, you can call the police to eject party crashers.  At a protest, it is more complicated.  

    DO PEOPLE HERE HAVE IDEAS ON HOW TO effectively get people to leave a protest if they are acting disruptively or hijacking?   How about when they show up with inappropriate signs or flags?  How about when they bring their own loudspeaker and start shouting through it?  How about when they show up with drums and start banging, when you have a plan in place that does not include this?  How about when they show up at your protest and have something illegal in mind?  How about if you are leading a march and someone starts to lead a group off the planned route or out into the street?  

    Ideas?  Ideas?  People all around the nation need to know.  Please share if you know how to deal with such things.

  • Angel H.

    Frankly, I’m starting to believe that the concept of a “leaderless movement” is just a cop-out. If OWS is a bunch of individuals who just happen to come together for a common cause, then when something like this happens, it’s easier to point the finger and say “so-and-so did that on his/her own” or “they’re not really one of us” instead of looking at the movement as a whole, trying to figure out how, where, and why things got fucked up, and taking responsiblity for the mistakes that were made. As for educating the people: It’s not the job of marginalized bodies to educate the privileged about our oppression. If somebody wants to become involved anti-racism (or feminist, anti-ableist, and/or LGBTQ issues), it is *their* job to learn what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. (We’ve learned the hard way – life experiences. It’s not going to kill them to google or pick up a book.) Also, after everything that went down, what makes you think that Esther, I, or anyone else believe that they would feel welcomed in that environment?

  • Vicky

    Thank you for writing this. I’m sharing it any way I know how!

  • Rosettastarshine

    I found your article linked on the Occupy Asheville Facebook page. I read it, I will share it, and if we keep loving and sharing and listinging and learning….. We will grow and blossom. Sending love and prayers.

  • Liz McLellan

    America is full of people who are technically adult who have not been socialized to be respectful. It is a sad state of affairs. Adult in body only…

  • Liz McLellan

    You are incredibly out of touch and superior sounding. My advice…. stop giving advice. You are not helping.

  • Liz McLellan

    Guest – Then you and people who know Gary have to find ways to get him the help he needs. Care to share specifics of what Gary needs? Do his needs supercede the need of all of us to change what is happening to all of us? OWS cannot heal all the people this culture has broken with the tools it has now and the impact people who need help desperately may be beyond the capacity to repair – Gary IS apparently DOING HARM, not simply acting out. It is possible to be both compassionate and have boundaries. It’s not just “making people uncomfortable” – It sounds like this incident did REAL damage to others… So if you have a productive suggestion that would be good.

    • Sue Basko

      Agreed.  I have provided information for Occupy groups worldwide, and one recurring problem is that the protests  attract people with mental problems, social relational problems, drug use issues, and thieves.  Nationwide, such people have brought down Occupy camps and / or made them unwelcome.   Occupiers have had their computers and cameras stolen.  Many camps found themselves becoming caretakers – providing the food, health care, counseling, clothing, shelter, and behavioral policing needed by such people.  If the Occupy movement gets too caught up in being Mother Theresa, it won’t also have the time, money, energy, or credibility left to make significant political changes.  At some point, limits have to be set.

  • Liz McLellan

    Maybe OWS needs to do some information sharing with orgs in NYC with regard to faces and tactics of supposed agitators… this takes some personal foot work. Perhaps you can work together to diminish their impact…IF that is what the case is.

  • Liz McLellan

    Leora – it really is possible that people can be this dim and be part of OWS. OWS has work to do here. There is not any benefit in calling them outsiders… as if we are not all soaking in a “broken” culture…

  • Liz McLellan

    Hoping beyond reason that those that possess different forms of privilege within OWS listen with humility and open hearts and adjust their behavior accordingly. It’s not like this sort of bullshit hasn’t torn groups apart before. There is no moving forward without moving into honesty.

  • Joe Cooper

    The occupation is a diverse movement. It is not an ideal set of people who are all sane, well-educated, well-adjusted, polite, empathetic, etc. It has also activated people who have never been politically active.

    I am not excusing the individuals who showed up for your event, and made a nuisance of themselves. They did wrong. But, I am saying that for people who want to harness the power of the occupation for their own causes, they’re going to need to recognize how the occupation works, and how limited most occupier’s experience with activism is. If you are unwilling to help the occupation, by educating the people you are asking to be involved in your action about your cause and how to effectively and respectfully activate for it, then you should not ask the occupation to help you with your effort.

    This is not about you; it’s a problem for everybody within the occupation who’s trying to make the occupation work as a positive force for good on lots of different fronts. The problems you had, we in the occupation have. It is not “us” against “them”. It is “individuals human beings trying to work together, and failing sometimes”. I am part of the occupation, but I can’t speak for the occupation, and I can’t fix any of the problems you’ve seen, except through education where I see problems.

    I understand you feel personally affronted by this, and you need someone to blame. I can’t stop you from feeling that way, and I’m not going to try to minimize the offense you feel. All I can do is try to help people understand why it went the way it did. It is not because OWS is a bunch of assholes (though there are plenty of assholes in the occupation). The people who showed up for your event are not representative of the occupation (no more than I am representative of the occupation), but the occupation has no control over who shows up on any given day, and you’re projecting a hierarchical control structure onto Occupy where there is, and can be, none.

    So, my primary point is that the occupation can be used to organize protest actions, and it can lend lots of people and lots of media attention to a cause. Cameras and police follow Occupy events and actions at a rate unmatched by any activist groups I’ve ever seen. You can leave Occupy out of your actions, and you’ll have none of these problem children to manage; and if you can achieve your goals without that help, by all means, do so. But, if you ask the occupation for their participation, you have to reciprocate, or you will get what you got.

    It’s not how I’d like it to be. It’s just how it is. You can rant about it, or you can recognize it and work with it. I understand if working with it is not how you wish to spend you time, and I respect that choice.

    • Angel H.

      Not only do you try to belittle her experience (“you need someone to blame”, “The people who showed up for your event are not representative of the occupation”, “It’s just how it is”), you want to have it both ways. You say that OWS is a leadership movement, but then you have all of these rules of engagement that must be followed in order to procure OWS’s support. You say that because it is a leaderless movement that everyone is a leader, but no one seems to want to step forward and take responsibility that their people screwed up.

  • Amy Gashly

    I am an Occupier and I APOLOGIZE. I give my condolences for the traumatic and horrible loss of Danny Chen. My sympathy for the continuing injustice you experience. My applause, respect and support for the work you do to fight these injustices.
    If OWS is a movement of the 99% those instigators, jerks and unstable people are my people. I apologize on their behalf. I respect your decision to distance yourself from a group that is proving unworkable for you, and isn’t supporting you (and many others) or respecting you.
    As a woman who has experienced privilege I must apologize on behalf of the privileged people who continue and exacerbate an unjust social system which subjugates, humiliates and abuses people they see as “different”, “other” or “inferior”.  And as a person who has experienced privilege I also recognize my personal responsibility to give  more than apologies. I must work to give compassion, bring justice and work to break this social system of privilege and abuse, in myself and others.
    My prayers go out to those grieving the loss of Danny, and all those who fight for justice.

  • Nels P. Highberg

    It is very, very sad to read this.  Back in October, on the day of the Brooklyn March Against Sexual Assault, I was downtown, and someone from OWS tried to give me a flyer for their march later that afternoon, I told them I would be in Brooklyn, and the guy actually said, “This is more important.”  I’m not trying to pit one against the other, but I was surprised that someone in one movement could not understand why someone would want to take part in another movement.  Soon after, the women’s-only tent was created at OWS, showing the gender is not irrelevant even if some try to make it sound like that.  Thank you for this post on race and ethnicity.

  • Remi

    My name is Remi, I’m a medic at Occupy Portland. 
    I would like to extend my sympathies for the loss of a community member and my apologies for the actions you experienced by members of OWS.  Please let me confer to you that this is not how everyone acts or feels and what occurred is most certainly regrettable. 
    I know what Pvt. Danny Chen went through all too well for being different.  What happened to him is morally reprehensible and yet specific circles in society actively promote/allow ignorance and hatred to prevail. 

  • Barney Rebel

    God, I am so sorry.  I am a dedicated member of Occupy Austin, and reading this really bums me out.  It is a great shame that they came not to demand accountability for Mr. Chen’s murder, and instead tried to co-opt your event.  All I can say, is that OWS groups basically have an open invitation to everyone, and this concept has its strengths and weaknesses.  Some participants are new to activism, some are less than mentally competent, some are just jerks.  

  • Jay

    Thank you for this article.

    I am not involved with OWS, but it seems to me that it doesn’t make sense to claim that because a movement is leaderless, that means no one is responsible for what happens within that movement. If that were true and was a real shield against criticism, then you could also not make any positive claims about OWS. Because if “OWS is doing bad things” gets the answer “No it isn’t, because it has no leaders, so no one can claim to be authentically associated with it”, then “OWS is doing good things” should get the same answer, shouldn’t it? No one should be able to take credit for the good things it is doing, because there are no leaders, thus no one is responsible for what is happening. At least, that is the logical end point of the argument some commenters here have put forth.

    If a group of people without a leader can take credit for the good they’ve done, then they must also be able to take responsibility for the bad they’ve done. Without accepting both sides of the coin, there is no meaning in calling OWS a group or a movement at all. At least that is how it looks from where I’m sitting.

  • Delthea Simmons

    First, my condolences to you and your family. I’m sure Danny was a good man and I feel we who never got to meet him, missed knowing a great person.

    Thank you as well for raising the issue of charity vs. solidarity. Too many time people want to save other people when people don’t need saviors but allies. It can at times be over looked and when it is, it hurts more than helps.

    thank you again, and again my condolences.

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the video. I think I might boost the signal on this.

    • Liz McLellan

      Thank you guys for doing the heavy lifting around this stuff. OWS is lucky to have your attention.

  • Gdpaye

    This is a very important piece and I’m glad OWS allows self-critical pieces in it’s journal. I hope readers will take in it’s message and learn from the voices of people of color and all voices for that matter. All occupiers are on a steep learning curve and at different places in their understanding. I hope our writer Esther Choi doesn’t give up on OWS because of the actions of a few immature activists and stays on to educate and broaden the movement. We need your voice and ideas! 

    • Liz McLellan

      My condolences to the Chen Family and all of Danny’s friends and loved ones. I will stay connected to see how to help from way out here…

  • Clyde Grubbs

    If your walk like a privileged tournist, quack like a privileged tourist and  then it isn’t arrogant to observe you are a priviliged tourist in the social justice world.

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  • Khujeci Tomai

    There are people who claim to represent OWS but absolutely do NOT. They have been expelled from OWS for un-constructive behavior, and now they try to hijack other events. The “red china flag” man is probably Gary Phenof, read more about him here:

  • Joe Cooper

    This is a real issue. As occupations around the country reach out in solidarity with other groups on related issues, there is a risk of occupiers not knowing how to effectively play their role. It requires active inoculation against the default actions. Many of our people are not savvy to what activism looks like, and are unfamiliar with the importance of focused messaging and what “solidarity” looks like.
    My local occupation has participated in several solidarity events, and in every case, their behavior has been exemplary (or close to it). And that’s because the person leading the group putting the action together made it clear at every stage: We are here to support X cause. We are not here to promote Occupy. We’ll do it our way, but we’ll do it with the blessing of our allies.
    Our finest, and most recent, example, was when Occupy Austin teamed up with a coalition of East side parents, teachers, kids, and local community education groups to protest the change of several East side schools to charter schools managed by a somewhat controversial charter school corporation. Occupy’s message was, “We’re here to amplify these community voices that have been ignored.” And Occupy did that by camping out, with a dozen tents, outside of the school board offices the night before the hearing to insure that the community members got prime positions on the speaking roster, despite the school board making it very difficult for parents of school age children to participate (the meeting queue started at 7AM on a Tuesday morning…just when parents are getting their kids ready for school). Our chants and signs were targeted to the right cause, and the organizers of the community groups had veto power over everything we did, and every spontaneous action was discussed with those same organizers. The community groups and teachers and kids joined in our songs and participated in our chants, and we made a lot of friends that day.
    But, I’ve seen first-hand what can happen when that awareness is not part of the planning process. We’ve had to shush people, pull them aside, ask them to swap signs, etc. during events where our Occupy specific message was not appropriate, so I’m sure it has happened in a lot of places, and will happen again many times before that inoculation to insensitive behavior really kicks in.
    Occupations need to be joining existing communities of activists. They need to be forming these friendships and these networks of knowledge and awareness and cross-organizational power. And, they need to be doing it in a way that makes friends, garners mutual respect, and that brings new people, new cultures, new organizations, into the occupation. The best single way to recruit is to find people who already activate for worthwhile causes, and prove to them that the causes they support are the causes we support, so that they know they can activate within the occupation for those causes.
    All that said, I don’t think OWS should get all the blame here. We’ve had lots of groups come to our Occupation to try to borrow our bodies and our media presence and our louder voice for their causes, without actually understanding or meaningfully participating in the process. The thing about a leaderless movement is that when you want something to happen, you have to make it happen.
    It’s a miracle that anybody showed up, in this case, and it’s not even slightly surprising that the people that did show up didn’t know why they were there. When you decide that the Occupation should participate in some event, the way you do it is to volunteer to lead the charge. This is a leaderless movement, so we are all leaders.
    So, if you want an occupation to participate in your event, you show up, you start the working group or join the group that plans events and you plan it, you bring it before the GA (maybe as an announcement and invitation, or maybe as a proposal; depends on the occupation; ours does not require consensus for marches and actions, we just assume every individual can decide for themselves if the march or action actually represents why they occupy), and you begin promoting it within the occupation.
    Part of that is explaining to people how you expect them to activate. If they are to carry signs specific to your cause, you need to have a sign-making party, or bring pre-made signs. If standard occupation chants won’t work, you make new ones and teach them to the boisterous folks who lead the chants. If there is a leadership structure that should be respected, let people know (they may opt out, since we like the leaderless thing, but that’s OK) who they should defer to. This needs to be known in advance. You’re going to be busy when the action actually starts, and your occupiers will be distracted by all the stuff going on.
    The time to solve these sorts of problems is before they happen. So, in the days and weeks leading up to your action, you need to be priming the pump so that everyone knows what is expected, and why. In my experience, this white middle class privilege is not intentional. It’s built in, and everybody is in a different place in recognizing it. Make people aware of it, by simply asking for deference when it is appropriate, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it falls away, and you can work together.

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  • OWS-organizer

    I am an organizer with OWS and nothing this author writes comes as a surprise to me and neither does your arrogant, ignorant response. I’m heartened to see some humble replies to her heartfelt disappointment with people she expected to be helpful. I am as dismayed as she is on a daily basis being part of OWS as well. In particular, I relate to this “I deal with ignorant bigots every day and am willing to do so as part of my own commitment to my work, but when bigots come posing as allies and then very dramatically play the martyr when we call out their bullshit, it really derails our ability to do our work.”

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  • JR

    I believe the OWS people there were from OWS. There are amazing people in OWS and some serious idiots. I have been going to GAs, Spokes Council and all the major DAs since early October. OWS in some ways has gained strength and in many ways deteriorated. I believe in the OWS movement there are plants and disruptors. I have also seen the big Communist China flag with the tall white guy flying it around. If he ever spent any time in that regime he would know he is supporting oppressors. Just ask Tibet. I am a white guy, fairly clean cut and straight. I get the condescending, self righteous attitude quite a bit from some seriously leftist folks at these meetings. And you are right there are many newbies to activism in OWS(which is a good thing actually). But there are many many incredible people in this movement and it is getting amazing press and changing the conversation of world politics. But it still doesn’t have the right to assume superiority or hijack events. That is arrogant and immature. I apologize for that attitude. White Americans in general have this attitude. It is a feeling of unabashed superiority and the inability to recognize their privilege.

  • Heathermbryan

    I am so sorry to hear about Danny, and for his family and loved ones. And kudos to you and those who are standing, organizing, and speaking on his behalf. As an OWS supporter, I am so very sorry, so troubled, at the hurtful, narcissistic, and insulting actions/words of some OWSers – I will re-post this, and encourage others to do the same. 

  • jon

    part-time but frequent occupier here. first of all- props to you for organizing this march and for seeking justice for Danny Chen.

     re: OWS. i think your criticisms are not applicable to the whole movement (as you mentioned), but they are very accurate when applied to the part of the movement to which they are applicable. and you’re right that things like this are more frequent than a handful of isolated incidents.

    the OWS movement is going throw a lot of growing pains, as i think any movement would have to. the same spontaneity and youth that give the movement its authenticity and effectiveness also give it these flaws.and for whatever consolation it’s worth- we’ve all seen (and dealt with) the dude with the communist flag. he’s got some screws loose, and does not represent the movement at all.

  • esther

    the paragraph was introduced with, “The actions of these OWS protesters showed…” , and “they” in that sentence referred specifically to those ows protesters.

    as for the more generalized critique of ows, existence is a leaderless, autonomous movement, but oppression is not randomized. i think we need to call out these sorts of episodes, because it allows us to collectively recognize negative patterns. those who try to stifle us from expressing our experiences of racism, within ows and the world in general, always seem to claim our experiences were isolated incidents, but clearly they’re not if so many people are experiencing the same things repetitively, and even more so than in everyday life. I think in the end, the discussion and the purpose of this movement is better off if we are able to bring up and discuss theses problems and express our opinions, instead of being told to shut up for the sake of unity. that should be clear to supporters of an autonomous movement.

    also, i think your advice misses the point. the point might be that we don’t all have the same goals in this “same struggle”… and there is value in choosing to work with people who have proved in some way they are capable of working respectfully for the same goals. people such as yourself seem to demand unity around ows as if it’s the end-all of our work. but clearly, the movement doesn’t work for everyone, and our efforts can be better spent elsewhere.

    • Jacob Dink

      “those who try to stifle us from expressing our experiences of racism, within ows and the world in general, always seem to claim our experiences were isolated incidents, but clearly they’re not if so many people are experiencing the same things repetitively, and even more so than in everyday life.”

      Esther, I am extremely sympathetic to your argument in the article and in the comments, but I do want to take mild exception to this point. A collection of important and salient anecdotes are nevertheless anecdotes, and cannot be used to make generalizations like “racial/sexist oppresion is WORSE within the OWS movement over society at large.” From this article, I can only follow that these things are (as a microcosm for the rest of society), still a problem with the OWS culture. And you’re right, they don’t seem to be isolated, meaningless incidents. That’s worth noting, but it’s a very different point than claiming that oppression is actually *heightened* within the movement. I’m concerned that your article, as well as the one on Jezebel a couple of weeks ago, conflates these issues.

  • Arthur Brennan

    This honest and heartfelt criticism is exactly what we need to hear and understand.  I am an old veteran and I salute Private Danny Chen!  I also salute the courage and initiative of OWS and understand that it cannot and should not have or claim to have control over its members.  We are human, we make mistakes, we hurt one-another, but if we care then we will learn.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been paying attention to OWS for some time now and have heard of several accounts like this taking place throughout the movement.  While I understand that a few people’s actions are not indicative of an entire group, I can also see how incidents like this can discourage people — especially POC — from actively participating in OWS.  Perception is reality and, unfortunately in this case, the OWS protesters mentioned didn’t paint a favorable image among the Chen family and their supporters.  I hope that this ‘hijacking’ doesn’t divert focus from the true purpose of the march; a family’s right to closure.  My condolences go out to the Chen family.  Hopefully the investigation into Danny’s death won’t be met with the standard red tape and restrictions the good ol’ Department of Defense has become synonymous with.    

  • netminnow

    I am so sorry to hear of your unhappy experience in relation to OWS and your march for Danny Chen.  I have hope OWS as a movement can learn and grow to be more inclusive.  I hope enough of us who do support OWS can be more conscientious about our own shortcomings and those we know well behaviors’ and call ourselves on it and admit when we are called on it by people who have experienced disrespect.  I also might mention that not everyone who comports themselves badly are ignorant. Some are instigators, not necessarily all Cointelpro, and others are self-centered with a me first agenda.

    I think you are conducting an effective campaign to demand accountability from the Pentagon and Command structure for the circumstances surrounding Danny’s homicide. Please accept my condolences. This is the 4th item I’ve encountered in the last week, which is good, considering all the other distractions available. It is shameful the lack of transparency your family has encountered from our government and I appreciate how you thought OWS’ stated goals would dovetail with your search for answers.  Thank you for giving OWS the opportunity, even if they blew it; maybe it can be for the good if they/we grow from it. Best wishes. netminnow

    PS.  I forget to add that I know the pain of an unexplained death with no answers from authorities for almost 4 years.  My father’s murderer has finally been indicted and is slated for trial in March.

  • Anonymous

    Ceanothus, while OWS might not have a single, national leader who can speak for the whole movement, that’s not the only definition of leader. It’s also not necessary for this article’s criticisms to be valid.

    It doesn’t matter whether the people here were ‘leaders’ or not. What matters here is that this is a perfect illustration of the sort of ‘enlightened’ privilege that is displayed by many at OWS, and that the movement seems to foster. The belief that they somehow have unlocked a secret to the universe (or to protesting, or whatever) and that they have some unique insight into The Way Things Work.

    That doesn’t require the people here to be leaders — even if a movement is truly leaderless, it still
    has a culture, and that CULTURE can be criticised. No, the culture isn’t singular, but this strain is pervasive. While the whole case is not laid out in this article, it is, I feel, made very clear through the mass of writing on this issue. Check the archives of this site, as well as others (I seem to remember that Tiger Beatdown has had some good ones).

    The point is also made very clearly by responses such as yours, which hit back at the person pointing out the flaws instead of the people who did the harsh things. Of shouting back instead of listening. Even if you don’t agree, you can still listen.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this piece. One of the best articulations of how the OWS movement has spawned a culture of appropriation and privilege within a movement meant to be activism.

  • Sue Basko

    That is called hijacking.  Your event was hijacked.  If they showed up with a Communist flag, it was probably not actual OWS people, but was probably people from the RCP(revolutionary communist party)  or some such fringe group.  

     In the early days of OWS, they also had to protect their events from being hijacked.  People from such groups as RCP or ANSWER or Ron Paul — or other things would show up and try to hijack.  Sometimes, a person would stand there and give a press interview, as if they represented the group.  The mainstream press would run the interview of this fringe person as if they represented the OWS group. 

     Please do not blame the OWS people, because that probably was not them.  

    In the future, please clearly tell outsiders not to bring signs or flags our megaphones, that they will be participants at your event, but not run it.  This may sound like common courtesy, but fringe political groups are not known for courtesy.  I have been at protests where these fringe groups do outlandish things that are totally not on the agenda. Basically, their goal is to wreck your event or to discredit you or to hijack it and make it theirs.   Sorry this happened to you.  And sorry for the loss of Private Danny Chen.  

    • Erin Rey McMichael

      I agree with Sue. I think you very unfortunately got stuck with some wack-jobs unrepresentative of the real OWSers. I am so sorry for your loss, that’ s just terrible. :(

      • Julie Gonzales

        I think you’re both missing a larger point:  who polices who is, and who isn’t, OWS?  What is a “real” OWSer?  Your “please do not blame OWS”es and your “I’m sorry for your loss”es seem trite in the context of the very deep and very real questions the author is putting forward. 

        • Anonymous

          Julie, thank you. Being an (anti)organisation with no identifiable leaders shouldn’t be a get-out-of-responsibility-free card. Arguments about who is a ‘real’ OWSer reminds me of arguments about who is a ‘real’ Christian — and Shakesville already has an article about THAT.

          • Liz McLellan

            Hrimhari ….do you have suggestions for those who would like to maintain the open flat networked nature and treating this seriously and avoiding further afronts and grievously bad behoviors in the future. There are the Principles of Solidarity and hopefully continued discussion. I am in rural America but spent 10 years in NYC so it’s hard to intervene in a helpful way…

        • Xplo

          No one – but insofar as Occupy has widely-accepted goals and standards that are explicitly set or clearly implied by their actions and speech, it’s reasonable to say that those people who do not exemplify those goals and standards are not representing Occupy.

          As an Occupy supporter who has participated in Occupy actions, GAs, etc. I thank the author for making this account public. One of our ideals is transparency and I don’t think that should only apply when it’s convenient to Occupy. But at the same time, I resent the accusations being made here to the extent that the entire movement is being tarred with them. I am not the jackass who hijacked someone else’s event, and I am not the same old racial oppression draped in a cheap cloak of rebellion – or at least I sincerely hope not.

        • Sage Radachowsky

          I work with Occupy Boston, and we have a share of obnoxious people with very embarrassing lack of sensibility, too, who could do things like this. We also have hi-jackers like RCP and others who opened their literature tables at the Occupy camp, and like to promote their name brand at Occupy events. For Occupy to hi-jack another protest is inexcusable. But as Julie says, there is no registrar for who is, or is not, an Occupy “member” — it’s a social movement, not a membership society. We need a cultural tide toward acting with deep dignity and respect, for Occupy’s own sake, and *especially* when working with other groups on their actions and issues. We need to learn how to be an ally, and to be more humble, and to see the truth of critique of how Occupy embodies many of the ills of the greater society — how could it not.

    • soothsayer

      that guy with the communist flag was first seen at OWS back in late october.    he likes to yell and scream a lot and appears to be some sort of conspiracy nut.      

    • Angel H.

      @Guest, David, and Sue: There was nothing racist about Daniel said. It’s about the frustration many POC face when dealing with “allies” who want us to be a part of their movements, yet refuse to examine their own racial privilege. It’s attitudes like yours that drive us away to start our own movements and take up our own causes because we can’t trust white liberals much of the time. And *that’s* why Daniel got so many Likes – he spoke the truth…And you’re just proving him right.

  • AgressiveProgressive


  • Abe

    thank you so much for your comments. I have been part of OWS for several months and have experienced the same issues as you. I am soooooo sorry for this experience! I feel extremely bad about this because I identify with the OWS movement but I can picture this happening ( I actually know the man you are referring to with the flag and have had similar experiences interacting with him :/ ) I had heard about Danny Chen through OWS because there was a Chinese American man who advertised the march you referred to several times at GA, I later read about Danny on the front page of the New York Times, and I want to congratulate you and your group for raising the profile on this extremely important issue.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that OWS is a product of our screwed up world. In my opinion, many of the members of OWS still have serious oppression issues. I myself have changed trememendously during my involvement in OWS. I am a white male, but now I finally have started to learn what that means in our society and I have actually noticed and started to change oppressive behaviors I have viewed in myself. This has actually been a direct result of working with the OWS movement.

    Again I am so sorry for what you experienced with the OWS people coming to your march in solidarity. I find it very strange that they behaved that way as a group …. I would actually really like to discuss this further, not only because of your valuable reflections and criticisms of our movement (if you happen to have any patience to consider doing that, and if not I fully understand!) but to hear more about your activism and experiences as an organizer. I am actually a newbie activist and OWS has been my first experience in this area. I now consider myself an activist, and I try not to only identify with OWS but with other causes that are important to me. 

    Thank you so much again for this critique….. I honestly feel so bad …. I read that article in the Times and it was painful to learn about what happened to Danny Chen in the military. Suicide is extremely troubling (I know there is a debate of whether it was suicide or murder or a combination) and the fact that this happened while he was in the army is even more troubling. A “casualty of war” brought on a soldier by his own fellow soldiers …. even more depressing than the other casualties. 



  • Diana Pei Wu

    i’m sad to hear this. first i’m sad that those OWS folks did not have their own OWS folks to check their own people when they were acting out of line.

    i also feel the frustration of PoC and other long-time organizers who have at some point learned or been taught to accompany others in a good way. i  love the new-old forms that occupy’s are re-forming, re-presenting and re-claiming, and i love that this movement *and* moment  have opened up our collective progressive and radical imagination and practices into a more radical space.

    Yet, I cannot agree with the decision to categorically reject all OWS collaboration. I respect her individual decision to do so at this point in time, and in the space of public work and collective knowledge and discussion, would like to add another point of view.

    Most of us had to (re-)learn how to be together at some point. One of the reasons that I went into teaching as my day job, while continuing to do change work in my hours off the capitalist clock, is because I recognized the need to continually be able to bring more folks into struggle in a good way. I recognized that there were good people who did that for me somewhere along the way, and that I had some responsibility to pay that forward and back. I wonder how Esther Choi – and the rest of us – learned about movement work: who taught her, struggled with her, challenged her, walked away from her, walked up to her, opened space for her, heard her, gave her words to name her own sadness or brilliant insights, who listened to her, let her step back when she needed to, let her lead when she was ready, and make mistakes, and still know that she was better than the worst things she did or said .. and who will continue to do so … as learning is part of the struggle and the blessing of our work together… and we are all teachers and learners …

    it is deeply frustrating work, and many times i do not know that my work has had any impact until years later, if one of my students actually takes the time to write and email or text me, that i was important or inspirational or challenging.

    i recently had a student tell me that he was offended at some of our initial communications – and that now he knows i was right. and while i would have liked to have been more gentle at that time, i am glad that we are now back in communication and mutual work.

    i also hear and echo the sentiment of course that it’s not (only) her responsibility to do the work of lovingly struggling with new folks, so when she gets tired (like now) there have to be others of us who can step in for the next round of our collective (re-)education.

    Yvonne Yen Liu’s piece is an interesting complement: “we have a past and a future.”

  • JC

    I cannot understand why you would cruelly harass your fellow soldier. Don’t you depend on him to watch your back during combat? SMH

  • Hopefulbutsad

    As someone who has been associated with OccupyBaltimore on and off I completely get what you say and I am so glad that you have written about your experience. There are deeply ingrained flaws in the Occupy Movement and the general disdain that I have seen first-hand of the advice of those with more experience, different ideas, and honest critiques is disturbing. Occupiers are comprised of the same flawed people that make up society. To say that I have also seen people act with humanity, compassion and bravery in the movement in no way lessons the inexcusable behavior you experienced.
    I am sorry that this experience got in the way of your journey to the truth about Private Chen. Godspeed on the path.

    • Liz McLellan

      It is disheartening to hear that the young guns of OWS have trouble hearing from older (more experienced) folks… I don’t have much advice except to hopefully help them head off the same mistakes we made – getting defensive when criticised, playing “more revolutionary than thou” , letting young angry men set the entire program and tactics because they are young and angry… It’s hard to watch it all happening again in slow mo.


  • Pemora

    thank you for posting this. this is important for all of us to know…and thank you for your work with danny chen’s family and friends. i am anxious to see the pentagon and army’s response to this case.

  • Xeginy

    I like how OWS have tried to really discuss class inequities in this country, but I haven’t seen as much discussion about other systems of oppression, like sex, race, ability, language and education. This seems like a prime opportunity for OWS – as a collective organization – to take a step back, start talking about privilege, and give the supporters of Danny Chen a sincere apology.

  • Lexis

    I’ve been following this case because it reminds me of previous similar cases of mysterious deaths in the military.

    Given who you and your family are going up against as an institution… you may desire to consider the possibility that certain people are sometimes planted with the intention of disrupting a protest while disguised as a ” protestor “. I hope you or someone in your camp is able to find out exactly who the disruptive people are and where are they connected.

    I would not put it past this country’s history to have plants to monitor and disrupt the efforts of protestors like your family.

    • Loba Art

      I know denial isn’t a river in Egypt, but I thought exactly the same thing. There are concerted efforts to hijack and plant badly-behaved “OWS protesters” at high-profile events to try and make the movement look ignorant or dangerous.  Labeling OWS protestors as anarchists or radiclal leftists is one of the oft-used tactics. The way one individual was said to be “screaming at us about how we were ANTI-COMMUNIST is a big red flag (no pun intended). I’m peripherally involved with some local OWS groups and even we have had problems with these hijackers and s**t-stirrers even though it is a very small area.

      • Sage Radachowsky

        I think that is bad conspiracy theory:  i just don’t think that evil forces are planting “bad protesters” at most events, like this one here … i think that idiots who like the attention just are often attracted to showing up to events and attracting attention, and it only takes one person who is an attention-grabbing idiot to counteract the quiet, dignified presence of 10 other Occupy people, and cause a bad name for the movement.

        • Liz McLellan

          Why would you doubt infiltration strategies at play. They have always been at play. This is not to say OWS should ignore criticism or dismiss bad behavior as the result of infiltration (bad idea) (listen more talk less) – BUT BUT BUT we KNOW movements get infiltrated. We have records of movements getting infiltrated. This is what the powers that be do and it is EFFECTIVE. IT is NOT a conspiracy theory it is established FACT. So No. Again… this does not mean that people of good will in and around OWS don’t have work to do…we all have work to do.

          • Sue Basko

            Yes, Liz is correct.  I run a blog where I provide information to Occupy groups worldwide.  There is much incoming evidence that Occupy locations are rife with agents provocateurs, infiltrators, and online – fake profiles.  I have blog posts about Agents Provocateurs, Fake Profiles, FBI Inflitrators, Undercover Cops, etc.  The Agents Provocateurs post is here:

    • Angel H.

      Why is it so hard to believe that the people who were disrupting the march were active members of OWS? It’s been shown time and time and time again that some of the protestors are ridiculously clueless about their own privilege. Brushing aside criticism by saying “it can’t be one of *ours*” does nothing but silence critique and discourage growth.

  • RainbowExplorer

    As a disabled (thus forcibly retired) RN, BSN, clinical MSW, and
    MAT-educated teacher, it breaks my heart to hear of your experience! 
    Though I am involved (as much as a severely and permanently disabled
    person can be), with both the Occupy Movement and the 99% Movement,
    within the Oregon area, I completely understand why you would be so
    demoralized by reaching out to some of the Occupiers.  As I spent quite a
    long time tweeting to a man in the Portland, Oregon area recently –
    it’s sad to know that we ALL come with our own areas of bigotry, simply
    because we are human – therefore ignorant and fearful, due to our
    limitations and flaws.

    This was a lesson I learned time and time, again, in all three of the
    careers I practiced, as well as, in my personal life journey.  Every
    time I think I have prejudice “licked”, I find ANOTHER one that needs to
    be tackled!  It keeps me very humbled, most of the time, though I am as
    prone to arrogance as anyone else.

    Good intentions can often go quickly awry, if we don’t continually check
    and recheck our “truest” motives for doing what we do, each and every
    moment.  How tragic for you, Private Danny Chen’s memory, and his
    family, to have to go through such an ordeal, especially after all of
    your extensive efforts on their behalf.  I will be repeatedly sharing
    your story with all of the Occupiers with whom I have regular contacts. 
    Acting in a loving, respectful manner MUST come BEFORE other agendas. 
    It is the basis of the “original” Golden Rule!

    • scarletsusieq

      I too have spent 4 months of all my free time at Occupy Oakland.  I closed Port twice but I am feeling the same way.  As I desire change, it seems like the ignorance has over occupied the mission.  I am now on the fence.

  • buttersnake

    thank you for this!!

  • Gigi

    I am very sorry your organization and supporters experienced that level of stupidity, entitlement and  arrogance.  And I sincerely hope there will be justice for the Chen family, you are working very hard to ensure that will happen.

  • Greg Laden

    That was totally inappropriate of that OWS group.  I’m not involved with OWS though I know a couple of organizers locally here, and the people I know in OWS would simply not do that because it is obnoxious, offensive, and unprofessional (to the extent that protest is professionalized).  Aside from being a very bad experiences, this can also be an object lesson.  OWS now owes a debt, and there are ways they can pay it.