Tacoma’s Occupiers…Must Not Criticize

So earlier today I got an email from a self-appointed leader of our former neighborhood group when we were in Tacoma. (Have been getting these types of neighborhood updates, despite being gone a year now.)  This forwarded email was from someone within the #OccupyTacoma group, detailing the march coming up this Saturday. It fired me up just a tad, considering we’d lived in the area for 12+ years…so I replied to it. And wow, was the response to my response ever telling…

But first, the original email, minus identifying information:

Hello Lincoln District Neighbors,

You have heard of Occupy Wall Street (clickable link), a legal nonviolent movement to end the role of big corporations in government and return power back to the people.

This Saturday, the local support group, Occupy Tacoma (clickable link) invites you to show your support by joining in a legal peaceful march through the Lincoln District. Here are the details:

Lincoln march route:
DATE: Saturday, October 29, 201
TIME: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
START: Lincoln Park (covered picnic area) meet at 2p for rally/info, ect.

* Out to Thompson and south toward 38th St
* L on 38th (not crossing street) to Pacific
* L on Pacific (no crossing street) to 34th (cross 34th)
* L on 34th to G st (cross G Street)
* NOTE the second bridge (nearest Center) has the sidewalk blocked off and a section of the street is designated for pedestrians, we will need a safety group staged there to make sure all of our group crosses safely**
* R on G st to Center (cross Center Street)
* L on Center to Yakima Street ramp (follow ramp to Yakima)
* L onto Yakima st bridge to Lincoln Park (covered picnic area if raining or windy, play field if sunny)


1. Please bring your own signs, and any comforts you might need (umbrella, Kleenex, water, etc.)
2. Please obey all traffic laws: stay on the sidewalk, don’t clog crosswalks or sidewalks, etc.
3. Be sure to consider those behind you, making sure you’ve allowed them room on the sidewalk
4. We do not have a clean-up crew, so please take care in helping keep things debris-free

Please let your friends and neighbors know and ask them to join this. Let’s build this as much as we can.

Let’s show Tacoma that we in the Lincoln district are proud to be part of the 99% (clickable link) .

Like I said, it fired me up a bit. My reply:

If we were still there, I would not only be NOT attending this, but actively counter-protesting. While there are undoubtedly many within the Occupy groups [that are nonviolent], there are many—especially in “leadership” that have advocated violence, and I have no doubt at all that they would and will use violence.

Any advocacy of violence to force about policies that are based on envy or class warfare is certainly no better—and often is worse—than whatever policies they are against. The neighborhood would be better served if these same people would actually work toward improving the neighborhood itself rather than nameless, faceless entities and corporations they claim are the enemy.

Was it something I wrote? It wasn’t pointed at the person, just expressing my belief that the neighborhood would be better served in the efforts, the time, and the money these marchers are expending would be used to improve the neighborhood rather than blame some corporations.

But the reply says otherwise, and somewhere in there I apparently touched a nerve…

Scott, thanks for the opinion, but I wasn’t soliciting them. I was forwarding the email as a service to a neighbor, as I do for many neighbors on a regular basis, regardless of affiliation, membership, or opinion on politics, religion, etc.

I will now remove you from the WAN email list since you are no longer a member of the Whitman Area Neighbors community.

BTW, you might want to notice what was written in the email: the group specifies NON-violence, not violence.

I also DO take offense to being accused, or to any of my neighbors being accused, of NOT improving the community. I’ve been working hard to improve my community for over 9 years and don’t really appreciate the insinuation toward myself of anyone else in this community that they are NOT doing that.

Since you don’t live here, I think your privilege to communicate along this subject line has expired.

So…my opinion is a privilege, eh? And because I no longer live there, I am no longer allowed to have an opinion, and even if I did live there, I certainly am not allowed to point out that a number of leaders (and almost 1/3 of the people involved) within the #Occupy movement have, in fact, advocated violence. See below for just two examples:

Yahoo story

Wall Street Journal

I know what this response tells me, but what does it tell you?

So earlier today I got an email from a self-appointed leader of our former neighborhood group when we were in Tacoma. (Have been getting these types of neighborhood updates, despite being gone a year now.)  This forwarded email was from someone within the #OccupyTacoma group, detailing the march coming up this Saturday. It fired me…


  1. Scott,

    Thank you for sharing your opinion on this matter. Everyone has a voice that needs to be heard. My husband, Todd and I, co-lead our WAN group. Our neighbor who leads with us posted the Occupy Tacoma invite not to say that we as leaders support it but that we are just the messengers. When matters arise our job is to let the neighbors be aware what's going on and they can make the decision to participate or not.

    Our neighbors have come together over the last 8 years that we have lived here and have worked hard to see major improvements in our neighborhood. We love the Whitman area and are dedicated to see more great changes in the future. I hope that you can support us in that.

    Thank you! Please let us know if you would like to talk further. We are more than happy to get together.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sondra, as well as the times in visiting the blog.

      My comments previously were never directed at the other co-leader, nor were they intended to be reflections of the WAN group. And while I understand the "forwarding as messengers" idea, there's been a long-running misuse of whatever was being used as an emailing list to send out similar emails(most of the time without ever prefacing the email as a forward, and in failing to do so, does convey the impression that it is associated with the group).

      I appreciate the improvements that have been brought to the neighborhood, but at some point, someone needs to ask if they are effective or even the right ones. And as a resident for 12+ years, I think my opinion does, in fact and in contrast to yesterday's response, have a great deal of validity.

      However, one of the two main reasons we left last fall was the deterioration of the neighborhood, particularly crime-wise, which I've previously written about, especially last summer and fall after a couple of incidents. And from emails sent to the list since we left, I'm fully aware that the crime has continued. So, again, while I understand the hard work the group has done, I have to also ask if the effort, as I implied about the Occupy members, could not be directed better. And frankly, my opinion remains unchanged.

  2. Those OWS people are nut jobs. They remind me a person who hasn't slept in days and is trying to do something difficult. Anybody who passes them by gets an earful even if they were just stating something kindly. Everyone I know who backs the OWS (which isn't very many of my friends mind you) has been nothing but evil and spewing hate at people. It's so ridiculous. And yes, people are violent. If you want to change something, stop holding up signs. Crap or get off the pot peeps.

    1. Michelle.

      Try something that is relevant to public discourse instead of personal disdain for something obviously over your head.

      1. Jimmy–might do you good to: 1) follow your own advice, and 2) try not to be so condescending toward those you disagree with. And yes, I am moderating my comments, because this is *my* blog…further vitriol will either not be allowed or will be, well, made more pronounced.

  3. "I’ve been working hard to improve my community for over 9 years and don’t really appreciate the insinuation toward myself of anyone else in this community that they are NOT doing that."

    Is this the neighborhood where your car was broken into?? Where you were always posting how unsafe you felt there with your family.

  4. Side note, my husband lived in Tacoma when he was little. I think his dad was in seminary (which never panned out). You are such a fire starter Scott.

  5. Hello Scott,

    Your blog shows obvious effort and has some things in it I that I really liked. I respectfully disagree with some of your political and religious views, but of course, we all have a right to our opinions, and we live in a very diverse country.

    A friend tweeted me about what you wrote about Occupy Tacoma march because I actually am the man who wrote the email supporting that you disliked. Other than to say I am a respectable, peaceful, law-abiding, taxpaying homeowner and citizen who’s old enough to have gotten his first job 1959, I won’t defend myself or my views here. You’re welcome to visit my website, http://www.alanoldstudent.com to see what my views are and even comment on them.

    What I really want to write about is the lady who heads up our neighborhood group known as WAN. (WAN = Whitman Area Neighborhood, which is in the Lincoln District of Tacoma). If I understood you correctly, you seem to imply she is some sort of self-appointed leader.

    Here’s some food for thought.

    When a close friend’s 14-year-old daughter won a school band leader position, her mom asked why kids looked to her so much for leadership. This is a girl whose classmates elected her both class president and school body president in other elections.

    The young girl said, “A leader isn’t someone who chooses to lead, but a leader is someone who others chooses to follow.” I think that’s rather profound, especially for a 14-year-old girl.

    We WAN neighbors choose to allow Miss ________ to lead us, and here are just a few of the reasons:

    1. She was instrumental in getting the Whitman area designated as a “Historical Area,” helpful in getting city improvements and in maintaining the character of the neighborhood.

    2. Advocating for keeping our Tacoma Public Schools open and for improving them, which helps maintain our property values and benefits our children.

    3. AMOCAT and TAM arts awards.

    4. Organizing neighbors to participate in clean-up days.

    5. Organizing neighbors to plant and maintain community flower gardens in the traffic circle near Whitman School.

    6. Organizes block parties, including “night out” and tasting tours of neighborhood homes.

    7. Organizes neighborhood Christmas caroling and assisting children to have a safe trick-or-treat on Halloween.

    8. Does important liaison work between WAN and the Tacoma Police Department, to help us with such things as graffiti abatement, neighborhood watches, information about released level III sex offenders who end up near Whitman Area Neighborhood.

    9. Regularly sends out educational material about job openings, candidate meetings, cultural events, and so on.

    Miss ________ is a single mother who has two lovely, well-adjusted, and respectful daughters. She holds down a very responsible job, keeps in excellent physical condition, owns her own home, and is cheerful and positive. She brings out the best in our neighborhood.

    I don’t agree with all of Miss ________’s views, but I respect her greatly and feel she is a definite asset. When I asked her to forward my email, she expressly told me she would not participate as Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Tacoma were not really her thing. But because she respects me as a long-term resident here, she said would pass it on to the WAN mailing list. Needless to say, WAN does not take a position on Occupy Tacoma, which would not be appropriate because we have many members who don’t support it, although other respectable members support it.

    Thank you for allowing me to post this. I hope I have been respectful and conducted myself as a gentleman.

    Yours faithfully,

    Alan OldStudent

    (The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates)

    1. For the benefit of readers, I asked Alan if he would be willing to remove the identifying information. My initial post wasn't intended to be anything personal, and I wanted to keep it that way. Rather, instead, and to the point of this and the follow-up post, to question the effectiveness and impact on the neighborhood.

      Then again, I was told my "privilege to communicate along this subject line has expired."

      The underlying issue is one Alan addressed above, about the implications of emailing out to the neighborhood group's list: without any sort of disclaimer, it does indeed appear to be the taking of a position. But that's for the group to deal with. As for me, we'll see in the future post just how "neutral" of a conduit of information these types of emails have been.

      I do appreciate Alan's response and the time he took to write it (and told him as much via email), and hope readers will also be respectful.

    2. Alan, I appreciate very much the tone and substance of your note. Unfortunately, you (as a gentleman) are the 1%, because the others are rude, crude, or advocating violence. If OWS carried your nature, then I doubt if there would be much vitriol at all, just disagreement.

      At least for me, the thing is that these groups by and large use and justify questionable tactics and language. Scott pointed out the use of the mailing list. While I am not sure what type of analysis he has performed on the past emails, I can say from experience that at a minimum, they are biased and create an unsuitable image for the group.

      Suppose I sent an email, "Vote X for President" to everyone in my company. I could say, "I'm just a conduit," but it would be as security escorted me to the door. Misusing contact information tarnishes the sender and makes the whole group appear trashy. Why put in the hard work Miss _____ obviously did, only to ruin it with posts like the recent one?

      Thanks again, Alan. Would that most were like you in propriety.

  6. Hello Roy,

    Thank you for your kind words about my "propriety."

    Often conservatives and Tea Party supporters complain that the media do not cover them objectively, or even that they unfairly stereotype conservatives as being somewhat nutty. Actually, this is much the same complaint that many on the left have about how the media cover them. No matter how invalid you may think their complaints are, their grievances are as heartfelt and sincere as similar grievances from the right.

    So as a matter of fair play and openmindedness, I request you to consider that the opinion you have of Occupy supporters may have been somewhat influenced by media caricatures.

    In my experience with Occupy supporters and organizers, they're most concerned with nonviolence. They're not shiftless, irresponsible people wanting to mindlessly riot or destroy property.

    For example, when we Occupy Tacoma protestors marched through the Lincoln district on Saturday, we were disciplined and orderly. As a gentleman, I take great pride in that fact.

    We had march monitors to make sure we kept to the sidewalk and stayed off the street, that we weren't impeding or inconveniencing uninvolved pedestrians who needed to use the sidewalk. Our monitors helped us to obey traffic signal lights, and we did not make cars wait who wanted to turn onto a side street that we were crossing.

    So as an appeal to your sense of fair play, I invite you to go down to the Occupy encampment at 21st and Pacific and actually talk to some of the occupiers. Determine for yourself the truth about what kind of people we are. That might be a better way of finding out who we are than relying on media stereotypes or the comments of various pundits and talking heads.


    About the propriety of Miss___ forwarding my email to the neighborhood mail list, you ask me this:

    "Suppose I sent an email, “Vote X for President” to everyone in my company. I could say, 'I’m just a conduit,' but it would be as security escorted me to the door."

    Fair enough! However, with respect, this is not a valid comparison to what Miss___ did. Miss____ was not advocating anyone participate in the Occupy Tacoma march, which she did not participate in or support.

    What Miss ____ did more closely resembles our company employee sending out an email that says "Next Tuesday, there is going to be an election," –without urging people to vote or advocating for or against any particular candidate.

    Elsewhere on the A Dad First blog, there is a video of me addressing the rally at the end of that march. You'll see that I advocated nonviolent mass action in conformity with our rights guaranteed by our constitution, and the rally expressed enthusiasm for that sentiment.


    Alan OldStudent
    (The unexamined life is not worth living — Socrates)