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The headlines are filled with Oakland, Calif., news. There are angry, chanting people facing phalanxes of police. Occupy Oakland!

It’s on the front pages: fires, smoke, graffiti, broken windows, trash, filth, rats and insects.

They scream for a general strike and plan to shut down the port!

Whoa – wouldn’t you love to work for the chamber of commerce or the tourism board today?

The march on the Port of Oakland, the fourth busiest container port in the country, was successful in that officials did shut it down. Commerce came to a stop, traffic was horrific, truckers and their cargos were stymied with nowhere to go.

Was there an effort to stop the march on the facility? Not that I could see.

All it accomplished was feeding the egos of the activists.

One thing it did do, however, was show how easy it would be for a terrorist to attack on such a facility under the cover of Occupy. It didn’t happen this time, but how about the next one?

Anyone taking odds?

Local businesses are taking a big hit by being forced to board windows and close because of the threats and real dangers, or because their regular clientele just doesn’t show up.

It’s called fear and common sense.

Poor Oakland. It’s had an image problem for decades.

My first job in the Bay Area was at KTVU in Oakland, located along the embarcadero and the estuary. It was a lovely area. Two blocks inland, however, it was different.

I remember the day I mentioned to co-workers that I’d walked to a nearby store to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste and had noticed I was the only white person in view. I had no problems with that, but I got some odd looks.

The reaction from my co-workers explained that. “Don’t go there” was the advice; it “just isn’t safe.” In other words, white people don’t go there.

It sounded to me like the pre-civil rights South, where each group knew their place. I didn’t like it, but I was the new kid on the block and was learning the ropes from the old-timers.

To me, Oakland was a city divided. The poor, mostly black and generally poorly educated population lived “here” in the flats, and the better-off, better-educated, mostly white population lived “there” in the hills.

Oakland still is a city divided. Unfortunately, over the years, nothing much has changed. In some cases, it’s gotten worse, the result of being perpetually saddled with terrible, crony government.

Drugs, gangs, crime, a high murder rate, lousy schools, corrupt politicians are the background to the effects of the current economic downturn that has affected everyone, regardless of race, sex or educational level.

How many years has Oakland led the country in the overall-murder rate? Too many.

And now arrives Occupy – a carefully organized and strategized demonstration movement that seeks to take down the establishment, destroy capitalism and make us all one big, happy family.

The problem is, no family is all happy, and every family has a black sheep or two. In the case of what’s happening in Oakland, and cities across the country, is that those misfit “family members” see themselves as the smartest, best, brightest and the leaders of the future.

They also see themselves as the ones to relive the street actions of the sixties. But never forget, it was more than “free speech” and kumbaya – there was violence, too, just check back on the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground.

Check with Bill Ayers. He knows the details.

Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco were the hub of it then, and now the children and grandchildren of that generation are doing their thing.

But there’s no direction or goals. They want to tear down but have no clue as to what the replacement might be. But they’re so wrapped up in getting away with spitting in the face of a law and order society, they don’t care.

One of their signs says it all: “It’s our city, and we can shut it down.”

Cops are “pigs” again, and the street people cheer.

Pity the police. They trained, took the oath, wear the badge and are charged with keeping order and protecting citizens – but they’re double-crossed by the politicians who hired them and pay their salary with taxpayer money.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, a former Berkeley radical, is adept at mixed messages.

First she orders police to clear out the tent city, which is not only dangerous but also littered with dirty people, trash and human excrement. The cops do the job.

But then she lets the protesters back in the next day, and the encampment is even bigger. In addition, she gives all city employees the day off during the expected general strike. All employees, that is, except police officers.

As Sgt. Dominic Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, told me, the police are confused by the mixed messages and need firm leadership from the city. Not yet.

Occupy Oakland is one big tantrum.

Scream and yell enough, and Mommy gives in. These spoiled brats learned that lesson, and everyone suffers.

But it’s a warning: The structure of society they’re tearing down is everyone’s structure. Whether you believe in what they are doing or not, we’ll all suffer the consequences, and it’s not going to be a pretty.

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.

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