Title

Beyond Tear Gas and Torched Dumpsters: Rethinking Violence at Occupy Oakland

Publication Date

2017

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Social movement scholars have shown renewed interest in the question of violence over the past two decades. They have focused particularly on the conditions that give rise to “violent protest” and, in doing so, have emphasized the direct, immediately visible, forms of violence that occur within the space of protest events. Curiously, they have not paid much attention to the forms of structural and epistemic violence that often give rise to protest in the first place. Drawing on the work of peace researcher Johan Galtung among others, I want to offer a rethinking of violence at Occupy Oakland that shifts the focus from the protest event to the forms of violence inherent in existing distributions of resources and regard. While Occupy Oakland may have made headlines because of spectacular moments of violent protest, it sought to address more quotidian forms of structural and epistemic violence in Oakland, including the ongoing foreclosure crisis and capitalist notions of property and personhood. Through examining how Occupy Oakland engaged these different forms of violence, I highlight the need to move beyond a focus on violence as event to look more critically at the violent processes circumscribing daily life and struggles for social change.

Original Citation

Brissette, E. (2017). Beyond Tear Gas and Torched Dumpsters: Rethinking Violence at Occupy Oakland. Humanity & Society, published online July 21, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/0160597617716962