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330-163 Occupy Oakland Summary Memo Final

330-163 Occupy Oakland Summary Memo Final

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Published by Justin Elliott

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Published by: Justin Elliott on Nov 22, 2011
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2425 Colorado Avenue. Suite 180 1999 Harrison Street Suite 1290Santa Monica, CA 90404 Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (310) 828-1183 Phone: (510) 451-9521Fax: (310) 453-6562 Fax: (510) 451-0384
 
TO: Interested PartiesFROM: David Metz & Greg LewisFairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and AssociatesRE: Key Findings from Recent Survey of Occupy Oakland ProtestersDATE: November 22, 2011Over the past week, it has become clear that the encampment phase of the Occupy Oaklandmovement has come to an end. As of Monday, November 21, no tents remain in Frank OgawaPlaza or Snow Park, and Oakland Police Department has stopped new encampments from takinghold anywhere else. But the Occupy Wall Street protest carries on in cities and at collegecampuses across the country, and it seems unlikely that we have heard the last from the activeOccupy community in Oakland.This memo summarizes key findings from a survey we conducted of protesters at Frank OgawaPlaza in the encampment’s final days. The Occupy protesters we talked were diverse inbackground, in opinion, and in their definition of what they are trying to achieve. They havebeen brought together by a shared sense of frustration with the status quo, and consider theirparticipation in the movement as the means to some greater, as-of-yet undeterminedimprovement. In six words, we would sum up their responses to our survey as follows: Theywant things to be better.We conducted this research in the public interest, and not for any third-party client. As a smallbusiness located in uptown Oakland specializing in opinion research, we were motivated by ourinterest to learn more about what is going on in our own community. Our employees either livein Oakland or in neighboring East Bay cities; the Snow Park encampment is next door to theoffice we work out of every day; and the encampment in the Plaza was just a half mile down thestreet before the November 14 raid brought it to an end. Our business is finding out what peoplethink, and the Occupy Oakland movement is a subject we all wanted to know more about.
 
 
 Page 2
Methodology
: Of course, it is virtually impossible to capture a statistically-representative sampleof a group as fluid and self-defined as the Occupy Oakland movement. In light of this, we sentout trained, professional interviewers with the goal of conducting interviews with as diverse aselection of protesters as possible. The interviewers were in the field on Wednesday, November9
th
and Saturday, November 12
th
, and interviews were conducted at various times of day betweennoon and 6:00PM. We interviewed people who were camping at the plaza, as well as people whowere visiting. While we certainly can’t say that our results reveal the views of Occupy Oaklandwith statistical precision, we can say that over the course of 109 interviews, we were able tolearn a lot about the Oakland movement and the opinions and attitudes of the people whoidentify with it.The key findings of the survey are detailed below:
Who considers themselves part of the Occupy Oakland movement?
 
The Occupy Oakland movement has attracted a group of loyal followers who continueto show up for events
. Two-thirds (64%) of the protesters we interviewed identifiedthemselves as “frequent” participants of Occupy Oakland events; 21 percent of respondentsidentified as “occasional” visitors. More “frequent” visitors tended to include Oaklandresidents, African Americans, and those who were camping at the Plaza.
 
The movement continues to grow.
Overall, 14 percent of the Occupy Oakland protesterswe talked to said they were at the Plaza for the first time on the days we talked to them –indicating that the during its encampment phase, Occupy Oakland movement was continuingto attract more people to come down and experience it.
 
Before the most recent raid on the Plaza encampment, a significant number of protesters identified as “living” there or at Snow Park.
Asked to describe their currentliving situation, 21 percent said they were “living” at the encampment at the Plaza or SnowPark. Less than one in ten identified themselves as “homeless.”
 
27 percent of protesters we talked to were from outside of the Bay Area.
The remaining74 percent of the protesters we interviewed said they were from the Bay Area: 48 percentfrom Oakland, 12 percent from elsewhere in Alameda County, and 14 percent from otherBay Area locales.
 
Almost everyone we asked said they would continue to participate in the movement“indefinitely.”
Unless the respondent was citing travel plans as a reason they would not beable to continue their participation in Occupy Oakland, nearly everyone we interviewed saidthey would be with the movement as long as it went on.
 
 
 Page 3
What do Occupy Oakland protesters think of the current political system?
 
Occupy protesters appear to be fed up with the both political parties and perceivewidespread political corruption; they’re lukewarm about President Obama.
AlthoughRepublicans were viewed less favorably than Democrats, the results clearly show thatprotesters were far from enamored with the Democratic Party. Only 27 percent of theprotesters we interviewed had a favorable view of the Democratic Party; a plurality (43%)viewed it unfavorably and many were neutral toward it (29%). The Republican Party and theTea Party movement were viewed unfavorably by significant majorities of protesters (74%and 67%, respectively). Views of President Obama were split about evenly betweenfavorable (33%), unfavorable (30%), and neutral (34%). Overall, the attitudes towardpolitical institutions reflected in the interviews reflected assumed corruption among electedofficials and frustration that political institutions were failing to address serious societalproblems.
 
Half of the people we talked to have an unfavorable opinion of Oakland Mayor JeanQuan; the Oakland Police Department and Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan areheld in even lower regard.
Only 14 percent of respondents expressed a favorable view of Quan; six percent of Jordan; and nine percent of the OPD. About half of our sample had anunfavorable opinion of Quan (51%), and three-quarters (76%) viewed the OPD unfavorably.Some participants were more willing to reserve judgment on Jordan’s fresh tenure, resultingin a slightly less negative rating than OPD: 59 percent unfavorable, 21 percent neutral, and15 percent who were unable to say.
 
The Occupy Oakland protesters are politically engaged: 70 percent of the people wetalked to were registered to vote and planned to vote in the upcoming 2012 presidentialelection.
Interestingly, while the age demographics at the Plaza tend to skew young, thedemographics of “likely” voters matches general electorate trends: younger age groups(under 30) were the most likely to say they would not vote in next year’s election. Also,respondents who said they would vote next year were slightly more likely to have a favorableopinion of President Obama; those who said they would not vote were more likely to viewhim negatively.
Why were the Occupy Oakland protesters here?
 
A majority of the protesters we talked to ranked fighting for greater social justice andeconomic equality as their top reasons for participating in the Occupy Oaklandmovement.
Respondents were read the following three reasons why they might participate inthe Occupy Oakland movement, and were asked to rank them in the order of importance tothem personally:
o
 
 I am here to show solidarity with the international Occupy Wall Street movement 
o
 
 I am here to show Bay Area officials that infringing on our freedom of speech isunacceptable
o
 
 I am here to fight for greater social justice and economic equality
 

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