Bay Area Activists Mystified by Occupy Oakland Offshoot

A week ago, a flyer was passed out in Oakland ahead of an Occupy-led general strike march that briefly shut down the city’s port. In it, an organization calling itself the Oakland Liberation Front (OLF) urged recipients to consider tactics of violence.

But as Jason Motlagh reports for TIME, there is confusion about who exactly the OLF is. Despite the fact that members caught on video vandalizing a Whole Foods wore the trademark uniform of anarchist Black Bloc movement members, that seems to be something of a trick. Per Motlagh’s piece:

Kevin 18, an anarchist and onetime Black Bloc-er who says he knows most of the “tight-knit” Bay Area radical community, says neither he nor any of his hard-core friends have ever heard of the OLF and concludes it must be a shell group looking to capitalize on the moment. “If it was local, we would know something by now,” he says.

His suspicions about outsider “drive-bys” is heightened, he says, because shops like Tully’s Coffee, which has provided free coffee and wireless Internet access to protesters, were targeted. (According to police, about three-quarters of arrestees were locals.)

Motlagh concludes his article with an anecdote about a protester banging his fist in frustration against the side of a Fox News van, only to be reminded by fellow protesters that he was inadvertently providing last Friday more ammunition for a potentially one-sided cable news report.

[OLF pamphlet photo courtesy]