Port of Oakland Shutdown Smells of Van Jones Protégé
A Van Jones protege, Jakada Imani, was sworn in as the newest member of the Oakland Port Board of Commissioners Tuesday October 20, a mere twelve days before Occupy Oakland protesters marched to the Port of Oakland and "effectively shut down" the fifth largest containerized port in the U.S.
Weeks before thousands of occupiers disrupted maritime operations at the port, Imani articulated his vision for the area.
Port redevelopment, a project long in the works, "is going to be the biggest development in Oakland in my life...It's going to pull us out of poverty."
This kind of utopian grandstanding helped get the Jones clone on the commission. But not before he encountered some roadblocks. Imani's controversial confirmation followed a contentious debate among City Council members who wanted Mayor Jean Quan, a 60's Berkeley radical, to reappoint longtime commissioner Margaret Gordon. A progressive activist praised by Oprah Winfrey for her work in bringing awareness to environmental racism, Gordon worked on building consensus among different Oakland interests. Her willingness to compromise may have done her in. Imani, the director of the Soros-funded Ella Baker Center for Human Rights founded by Van Jones, eventually prevailed and won in a 5-3 decision.
Mayor Quan, who was sworn in only a year ago, recommended Imani after the Ella Baker Center joined with other community organizations to "develop a strong relationship between the city and the port." Van Jones, who headed the Center from 1996-2007 stated that he "was excited Jakada is the person taking the reins... I can't wait to see what he does with this new opportunity to shine and grow."
After Jones' departure the Baker Center spread its tentacles into a Port of Oakland debate between small truckers' interests versus large union-backed trucking companies. Imani, vying for the commissioner spot, turned his attention from environmental pollutants caused by diesel trucks transporting goods to and from the port towards uniting the 'workers of the world.' Jones' protégé contended the dispute was really about "workers being exploited...I know truck drivers are sleeping in their trucks...This is not the American dream."
If Imani's anti-capitalism, "dream" talk sounds like Jones it's because the two go way back. The new port commissioner joined the Ella Baker Center in the late 1990's "to organize for peace, justice and opportunity for communities of color and low-income Californians." Imani boasted about his record before his confirmation.
I also co-founded and helped lead Oakland Rising, an alliance working to shift the electorate of Oakland to reflect the population of the city. We do more than talk the talk; we walk Oakland, organize Oakland, and fight for Oakland.
One of my most proud achievements at the Ella Baker Center is creating the Oakland Green Jobs Corp and helping to pass the nation's first Green Jobs Act. That legislation put $125 million into green job training programs across the country. I helped pass dozens of bills in the California Capitol and forged relationships with the leadership of both houses of the State Legislature.
On October 26, six days after Imani was sworn in, he and Jones wrote a Huffington Post article chastising the Oakland Police Department for following the mayor's order to evict the occupiers the day before from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
As two activists who have called Oakland home, we are appalled at the events of our city in the last 36 hours. Last night the country joined us to watch in anguish as the Oakland Police Department, with back up from a dozen law enforcement agencies from around the region, used excessive levels of force against hundreds of mostly peaceful Occupy Oakland protesters.
In a city with a long and painful record of police violence, it is especially disturbing to witness scenes of women, children, the elderly, and the disabled under assault by rubber bullets and tear gas.
In fact, Jones and Imani live and breathe for this type of violence. When Jones was a Yale law student interning in San Francisco during the Rodney King riots in 1992 he acted as a legal monitor. He was arrested and after spending a short time behind bars Jones emerged triumphant.
I met all these young radical people of color. I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.
After his graduation from law school Jones moved to San Francisco and became a self-avowed communist. His hatred for capitalism and cops inspired him to set up the Ella Baker Center designed to take down both. By the late 1990's when Imani came on board Jones was leading rallies in support of cop killers and "depicting America... as "a piece of stolen land led by right-wing, war-hungry, oil-thirsty ... mother f***ers" who "got people of color playing servant to do that sh** for them."
Eight years later when Jones handed the Baker Center over to Jakada Imani, Valerie Jarrett announced Jones was coming to Washington.
JARRETT: Oooh. Van Jones, alright! So, Van Jones. We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We were watching him, uh, really, he's not that old, for as long as he's been active out in Oakland. And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that. And we have all that energy in the White House. (emphasis added)
Jones didn't last very long out in the open. His communist roots began to show and he was ushered out of the White House in the middle of the night a year after Jarrett's euphoric praise.
Now Jones has teamed up once again with buddy Imani, black-masked anarchists, Marxists, and a vacillating radical mayor blaming capitalism and law enforcement for Oaklands' troubles. In the Huffpo article co-authored by Imani, Jones continues to war against a group and a system that have made him a very rich man.
The police department and the mayor should apologize for an inexcusable use of excessive force. And they should publicly commit to ending these tactics immediately
Finally, let us remember what the Occupy movement is actually about. Regrettably, the City of Oakland's mis-step last night shifted the focus to a "police vs people" narrative, distracting from the real problem: the big banks and corporations responsible for causing our economic crisis.
The anti-American Imani and Jones have insinuated themselves into an American city with the help of some very powerful benefactors. Soros' Open Society "was financially underwriting the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights when Jones was in charge of that group." As an integral part of the Center for over a decade, with its broad reach into the community via myriad neighborhood organizations, Imani's position as port commissioner was straight out of the left's radical rule book.
The dockside shutdown on November 2 coming so soon after Imani's confirmation, as well as his relationship with a known communist does not bode well for Oakland. After one finance worker witnessed the fires and vandalism of the last 27 days he stated "Oakland still is a good city...but that fear factor, we need to get rid of it."
Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report