Occupy Oakland

Sorry folks, no relation.

Hi everybody! I’m Chris Danzig. You might have seen me around Above The Law over the past year, covering technology and West Coast legal news. As of today, I’m excited to be the site’s newest full-time editor, joining David Lat, Elie Mystal, and Staci Zaretsky.

I’m a journalist by trade, not a lawyer. I’ve spent too much time writing about the law — and the stressful situations that can arise within the legal profession, which sometimes drive lawyers to drink — to ever want to practice.

I went to journalism school at Northwestern University. I helped investigate a wrongful conviction case with the Medill Innocence Project while I was in school. After graduation, I was the assistant editor at InsideCounsel magazine in Chicago, where I covered legal technology.

I left that job about two years ago, and have worked as a full-time freelance reporter since then. I’ve written for a variety of publications, covering health care, music, social justice, and a bunch of other stuff. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was born and raised.

Keep reading for more personal trivia about yours truly (and to see the photo of myself that Lat asked me to provide)….

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These days, mentioning the California city of Oakland conjures up images of tear gas and violence. It’s not a place that people associate with innocent fun right now.

But Oakland isn’t all protesters and police. We bring you a report from a recent visitor to that city, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit….

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The crowd was not as extreme as the massive banner suggests.

There was more excitement in Oakland yesterday, as several thousand people enacted a citywide “general strike” and marched across town and “took over” the Port of Oakland. No one is exactly sure what those quoted phrases were supposed to mean, specifically, even though crowd estimates ranged from 3,000 to 40,000.

But one thing was for sure: the Occupy Oakland crowd wanted to make a ruckus. They wanted to disrupt the city’s business as usual. And they did. Lots of businesses closed for the day, including one of my favorite coffee shops. Embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan recommended city employees take the day off (excluding police, who did not appreciate the snub).

At least one Oakland law firm tried to keep its motor running, although building management locked the building down like a private tiger collection.

Let’s take a look at the official memo, courtesy of an anonymous tipster….

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A wheelchair-bound Oaklander in the tear gas fog. That's hardcore.

It has been a strange couple of days. I woke up on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. to finish some writing. It was still dark, but I heard several helicopters buzzing near my house. I checked Twitter and discovered several hundred police officers were clearing out the Occupy Oakland tent city a few miles away.

I know Lat has already visited the Occupy Wall Street protests, and Dealbreaker covered a dire drum circle problem in New York as well. So I didn’t worry about it too much.

Well, I wasn’t expecting the morning’s eviction to turn into a national media s**t storm. By Tuesday evening, somewhere around 500 people were marching through downtown Oakland. Police told them to go home, but they didn’t. People started throwing things at police. Police launched tear gas. By the time things wound down at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, police had fired several rounds of tear gas and beanbags at protesters, and there were various semi-confirmed reports of rubber bullets, flash grenades, and even a sound cannon.

Why do you care? Well, it turns out these protesters are not just deadbeats and drug addicts. There were several lawyers in the crowd, too. We spoke with a few of them, starting with Shahid Buttar. He is a Stanford Law School grad and the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He spent Tuesday afternoon lecturing on privacy in a UC Berkeley journalism class, then spent the night getting tear gassed in downtown Oakland….

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