RT's Thom Hartmann Suggests Occupy Vandals Are Agents Provocateurs
Thom Hartmann is a left-wing radio host who also has a show on the Kremlin-controlled RT. RT (formerly Russia Today) has been a big supporter of the anti-capitalist Occupy movement since last year. They've run hundreds of stories featuring sympathetic voices like journalist Chris Hedges, musician Tom Morello, and cartoonist Ted Rall.
Given their leanings, it's no surprise that when May Day arrived, RT was ready with supportive coverage. There was just one problem. Violence had erupted in Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle, where masked anarchists went on a daytime vandalism spree causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Obviously, this didn't make the "peaceful" Occupiers look very good.
But Thom Hartmann stepped into the breach with the help of AlterNet's Joshua Holland. Watch as the two suggest the vandals were outside instigators (starting at 2:20):
Hartmann: Joshua what have you heard on the ground from people who were there about last night's vandalism?
Holland: You know I've spoken to now four different members of Occupy San Francisco. They all tell a very similar story that it was a group that they were not familiar with, they hadn't seen before, they didn't seem to fit in. It's a little bit of a fishy story actually. I'm not sure what to make of it. [Inaudible]...tend to see the same faces, so. We don't really know what happened last night but it was very out of character.
Hartmann: The vandals were people who the regulars in the occupy movement in that area had never seen before, weren't familiar with, were wearing brand new appropriate hip clothes I guess.
Holland: Yeah. One of the things that several people pointed out was that they passed several banks and attacked neighborhood mom and pop stores which seems incongruous with the usual tactics taken by the black bloc.
Hartmann: Right, so instead of going after the big chain companies and things which, at the very least if somebody was using those tactics they probably would.
The vandalism in the Mission district of San Francisco was not directed at banks, but that wasn't the case in other cities. In Seattle, "Police said the courthouse used by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was damaged, along with branches of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, HSBC and Homestreet banks." The scene was similar in Oakland where a large march degenerated into throwing objects at police and vandalism:
- Vandalism at Bank of America at Kaiser Center; bank advised they are boarding up and closing for the day.
- Vandalism at Bank of the West (2127 Broadway).
Hartmann and Holland are really grasping at straws. The violence we saw Tuesday was clearly directed at ordinary Occupy targets in the majority of cases. To isolate one incident and suggest that mysterious instigators were responsible is a transparent attempt to blame someone else for Occupy's bad behavior.