According to an SFGate.com article titled “Oakland Man Says City Worker Assaulted Him,” city workers were cleaning Oakland’s public plaza when an “activist” walked by and spit his gum into the garbage can they were using.  As he walked away, they yelled at him. The “activist” turned around and walked back to confront them—even as he noted that they were getting increasingly irate—and they angrily told him to get away. Instead of walking away, he pulled out his iPhone and the confrontation turned physical.

“I was trying to document city employees saying they were going to beat my ass,” he told SFGate.com.

However, the “activist” claimed he woke up an hour later in a pool of blood in his apartment. He didn’t know how he got there, and he didn’t have the iPhone to document what actually happened.

His version of the story shows why a city should promote good manners, courtesy and respect. Spitting is both bad manners and a universal act of disrespect, so why spit in a garbage can where men are working?

If the “activist” had followed proper etiquette in disposing of his gum, this incident could have been avoided. Seeing that the workers expressed offense at his spitting gum in the garbage can they were using, it would have been easy to apologize. If he didn’t like what the workers said, it would have been simple to ignore them and keep walking.

Arguing in public is bad manners. Since the “activist” was already walking away, he could have kept walking and avoided the argument. But stopping to confront the agitated workers and approaching them while reaching in his pocket to point something at them proved to be unwise. Reasonably, all the workers might have seen was someone aggressively coming toward them. There was a shooting the day before only a couple of blocks away. In the heat of the moment, the workers might have assumed he was also pulling out a weapon.

Respecting a stranger’s personal space is proper protocol. If the “activist” wanted to document their confrontation, he could have done so from a distance outside of the workers’ personal space. By eliminating the physical distance between them during the confrontation, the man presented himself as a physical threat.

Were they reacting in self-defense? Did they know why he was coming so close? In Florida, the workers might have justified killing the “activist” under the “stand your ground” law.

“The city of Oakland is crazy,” the “activist” told SFGate.com. “I know to expect violence and that violence happens.” He only added to the problem.

Even worse, words such as “courtesy,” “regret,” “apology,” “self-reflection” and “accountability” appear nowhere in the SFGate.com article.

Instead, he claimed to have been protecting himself. Common courtesy and good manners would have protected him better. City officials and the Police Department are investigating his complaint that he was “assaulted.” Will there also be an investigation for lack of courtesy?

The rest of Oakland can learn from this example of the law of cause and effect. Bad manners can lead to violence. Activists often talk about “rights,” “making change” and “being heard,” but we must also promote protocol and etiquette. Every community benefits from courtesy and respect. Much of Oakland’s violence follows someone feeling disrespected or threatened. Innocent children have paid the price by being caught in the crossfire. Perhaps with more courtesy we could defuse more of the violence.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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8 Responses

  1. Oakie

    This is hilarious. Very well written, you had me going for awhile.

    It was meant to be a joke, right?

    Reply
  2. albert

    Dear Susan,
    I really enjoy the Community Voices feature on OaklandLocal. Reading the views of my fellow Oaklanders, even when I disagree with them, draws me closer to our community for it helps me better understand our community. But every once in awhile, like today, I can’t help but wonder if you even read what is submitted. For every once in awhile, like today, the most hateful views are expressed. What’s next? Someone explaining how a woman dresses determines whether or not she deserves to be raped? Or maybe something on the right to stand one’s ground when defending one’s neighborhood? I hope not. Because those who defend the victimizers in our community don’t deserve their voices to be heard by our community.

    Please. Read the submissions before putting them up.
    Thanks,
    albert

    Reply
  3. starmama

    Nah, spitting your gum into a garbage bin is no excuse for someone on their employer’s clock to whup on someone else so bad they need stitches.

    Referring to the victim as “activist” throughout the piece, & the use of quotes, is trolling tactics. & sounds as if the author has a personal problem with the victim.

    Reply
  4. Phillip

    I’m still trying to figure this one out. Is it satire, or honesty, or perhaps it’s mockery? Is it one big joke, someone’s real opinion, or somebody attempting to show the ridiculousness of “politeness” juxtaposed against violence? Who is the author, and why did they write this?

    These are the leads I’m following:
    This article shows up under Kheven LaGrone’s “Author Archive” on this website, so I’m assuming he wrote it (http://oaklandlocal.com/author/kheven-lagrone/). Also, his name appears near the top left.

    A quick google search on his name comes up with a few hits, but nothing too mind-blowing. There are some legal documents from a lawsuit and a “Kheven LaGrone” listed as editor to a book commenting on another book.

    Despite this, his relatively elusive internet persona can be honed by comments on oakland local, monikered by “KL”. I invite Kheven, or KL to correct me if I’m mistaken here, but I’m going on the assumption that they are one and the same.

    Recently, he has commented on one of Pilar Reyes’ controversial Community Voices http://oaklandlocal.com/2013/09/love-letter-to-oakland/#comment-29408.

    An even deeper history can be found from articles he penned for the sfbayview: http://sfbayview.com/tag/kheven-lagrone/

    After skimming all this, I’m assuming he was shooting for satire, or some sort of mockery. Critically speaking, I don’t think it came off well as satire. It seemed to be more of a distasteful mockery of the role of politeness in our society. Perhaps the author was shooting for something different. I’d be interested to hear.

    But, if this is satire / mockery, I think we’d be better served as a community by posting articles in Community Voices that are more honest and direct.

    Reply
  5. michelle t

    Please don’t call this guy, Joshua Daniels an “activist”. It’s insulting to all true community organizers in Oakland. A true activist would be respectful to all community members including men and women who’s working hard at their job.
    It sounds like he is trying to use technicalities of the law and employment rules to intimidate the workers.

    Reply
  6. Maximillien

    Come on. Bad etiquette doesn’t change the fact that the city workers violently beat him up and stole his phone. Even though the victim made some very stupid decisions, their response was barbaric and unacceptable; to focus an entire article about the victim’s bad manners is insane. This incredibly skewed viewpoint is indicative of a much larger attitude problem that is enabling the ruination of our city — thug apologists, people feeling the need to justify violent criminals’ behavior as the natural response to their environment rather than holding them accountable for their horrific deeds. It’s why you hear things like “Of course he got robbed at gunpoint, he shouldn’t have been in that neighborhood at night,” instead of “How did that 12-year old get a gun? He needs to be disciplined before he goes any further down the wrong path.”

    Reply

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