'Largely Peaceful March' in Oakland? Times Again Downplays Occupy's Destruction

The Times conveniently blames "fringe protesters" for violence after an "orderly day" of marches. But just how "fringe" were the vandals and fire-setters?

Yesterday Times Watch asked how prominently the New York Times would play the undeniable violence, property damage, and arrests that took place during the Occupy Oakland protests on Wednesday night. The answer: On the front of the National section, page A15. Reporter Maria Wollan got in some of the destructive details from the protests, but still tried to emphasize the 'peaceful march' that proceeded the violent part and to separate the ordinary Occupy Oakland protesters from the "fringe group" responsible for violence.

In 'Oakland Police Clash With Fringe Protesters" (itself a forgiving headline), reporter Maria Wollan treated the left-wing and anarchist rioters much more respectfully than she did a clever, peaceful conservative protest against affirmative action on the left-wing University of California at Berkeley, in a hostile September 27 article.

Protesters and city officials here took a deep breath and tried to calm the waters Thursday after a night of vandalism and tear gas disrupted an orderly day of anti-Wall Street marches. But tensions remained high, both between demonstrators and the police and between Occupy Oakland protesters and a belligerent fringe group that seemed intent on clashing with law enforcement and destroying property.

More than 100 people were arrested in the melee, and the injured included both protesters and police officers.

After an afternoon of picketing banks, a crowd that city officials estimated as at least 7,000 strong descended on the city's waterfront Wednesday evening, temporarily closing one of the busiest ports in the country. Port officials reported no injuries or property damage, and the port was reopened Thursday morning.


Conflicts within the protest movement were evident throughout the night as people on the street argued and screamed at one another, encounters that on several occasions nearly came to blows. Some members of the group that had closed the port reprimanded those who smashed windows, threw rocks, ignited a 15-foot-high bonfire of garbage and covered downtown storefronts with graffiti.

'Largely peaceful' again meant somewhat violent in the Times:

Mayor Jean Quan applauded the protesters and the police for the largely peaceful march. As for the evening of confusion and violence, 'a very small group of people can create chaos,' she said.

There are more details on the riots the Times left out at the Oakland Tribune, including this gem suggesting it wasn't just 'fringe' characters responsible for property destruction: 'Milani, a camper who did not want to give a last name, spoke against apologizing to businesses. She said it wasn't just outsiders committing vandalism. 'The person I saw putting toilet paper up, they're a facilitator at the general assembly. The person spray painting, they're on the events committee.''