Editor's note: the following post contains graphic language and video. Discretion is advised.
On June 13, apparent members of Occupy Oakland staged a counter-protest at the H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) conference to end human exploitation and trafficking.
Why on earth would they do that? While the Occupy movement has long struggled with having a cohesive message, some of the signs indicated that rescuing girls from lives of prostitution constitutes racism, and that the police and "patriarchy" shouldn't have control over such matters.
A Facebook page dedicated to the event explains: "The H.EAT. conference is a conference of pigs and their nonprofit lackeys to increase the harassment, imprisonment, marginalization and criminalization of sex workers. Fronting as a conference against 'child trafficking,' this conference brings pigs and nonprofits together to develop policing strategies that line their pockets..."
Blogger Zombie, who wrote an article about the protests, explained that "The protesters mostly were members of Occupy Oakland Patriarchy, a group within the overall Occupy movement tasked with overthrowing our civilization’s “patriarchy.” He gives more details on what happened:
If there’s one issue that unites Americans of all political stripes, it’s the sexual enslavement of children. Whatever our opinions on other issues, we all agree that sex trafficking and the prostituting of children is an outrage and a tragedy. Thus, conference attendees included liberal, moderate and conservative politicians; progressive nonprofit organizations; law enforcement groups; religious leaders...In short: Everybody.
Everybody, that is, except Occupy Wall Street, who somehow found a way to oppose the abolition of child sexual slavery. In order to justify this seemingly incomprehensible and repugnant position, the Occupiers performed some of the most amazing moral gymnastics you’ll ever encounter.
Here are a few photos of the event (warning: language):
An official statement that the protesters were handing out, according to PJ Media, partially read:
The official, police-sanctioned campaign to combat the commercial sex-trafficking of children is nothing more than a patronizing, patriarchal guise that is being used to support intensified repression of sex workers and the further empowerment of police agencies at their expense.
Ultimately, no form of work is truly consensual given the conditions of work under Capitalism. We all have to sell our labor to survive. But the conditions of sale are not equal for all of us. For some people, sex work is just a better choice, given the poverty of viable alternatives. It is only thanks to the power of religious institutions and their policing of morality that the spotlight gets shone onto those of us who labor physically in the bedroom. We reject any moral policing of our bodies. Clearly, human trafficking is a heinous practice, but the perpetual focus on sex is uncritically sensationalist, and its shock value is exploited by any anti-sex-trafficking groups present at the HEAT conference in pursuit of their own moralizing, often religious, agendas...[Emphasis added]
Watch video of how they disrupted the conference, chanting "f**k the police!" and mobbing the hotel, before pelting it with eggs and other liquids as security rapidly shut the doors, below:
PJ Media points out that the protesters seemed to espouse two contradictory opinions simultaneously:
1. We are sex workers and proud of it, and there is nothing wrong with prostitution, so stop oppressing us with your prudish laws; and
2. The only reason we are compelled to have this degrading and unpleasant profession is that capitalism forces people to exchange labor for money — only a total anti-capitalist revolution can put an end to prostitution.
Now, needless to say, one would go insane trying to maintain both these ideas at the same time, which is apparently what has happened to the members of Occupy Oakland Patriarchy.
And if the signs weren't enough, a post-protest summary from the "Bay of Rage" Occupy site writes:
Wh*res get [revenge.]
On Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, queers and hookers and other bad b*tches f**ked up the H.E.A.T. Watch conference. H.E.A.T. Watch is an ongoing campaign facilitated by the Alameda County District Attorney, The City of Oakland, the OPD, and a few select piece-of-sh*t non-profits.
We set out with the intentions of shutting the f**ker down and started the event with the distribution of some dope literature, some inflammatory speeches, the harassment of mainstream media and of course, the all-out taunting of the police. It got taken a step further when the crowd attempted to enter the lobby of the Marriott Convention Center. This all resulted in a rumble with the pigs, the vandalized facade of the convention center entrance with eggs and paint, and a march to and from Oscar Grant Plaza. We would say that this was a nice way to spend an afternoon and, for a brief moment, fulfilled our goal of shutting the f**ker down.
To our enemies the DA Nancy O’Malley, the christian scum bag Linda Smith and all the pigs and other such trash attending the conference: this is only a small taste of what some pissed off h*es are capable of. We acknowledge your invitation of war against sex workers and all those subjugated by the continued existence of capital. Bring it on motherf**kers.
B*tches who will f**k you up. [Emphasis added]
(H/T: PJ Media)