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More On The Peaceful Occupy Oakland Strike

Meanwhile, we have some more details from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Occupy Oakland throng closes down port

Demian Bulwa [sic], Matthai Kuruvila [sic], Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writers
November 3, 2011

OAKLAND — .Thousands of people jammed into downtown Oakland on Wednesday for a general strike called by Occupy Oakland to protest economic inequity and corporate greed – then marched en masse to the Port of Oakland and shut it down…

"Whose port? Our port!" many yelled, while dozens climbed on top of the idled trucks and waved signs.

The few police officers within sight kept a considerable distance while the waterfront took on the air of a combination protest and street carnival, with everyone from office workers to gutter punks standing alongside each other denouncing inequality.

Port officials said in a statement that maritime operations were "effectively shut down." Dozens of trucks sat idling at the port, unable to enter or leave, and the shutdown continued late into the night.

"It’s a victory," exulted one protester, 21-year-old Oakland art student Umar Shareef [sic]

And what a boon for the economy! And let’s hope nobody needed any of the food being shipped out the the port.

Occupy Oakland, the activists who have camped outside City Hall for nearly a month, originally targeted the port to show solidarity with union workers embroiled in a dispute in Longview, Wash

These are the 500 ILWU longshoremen who stormed the port of Longview, WA, and overpowered and imprisoned six security guards back in September. These noble heroes also destroyed tons of grain and cut the brake lines on railroad cars.

Young activists, middle-class wage earners, students and homeless people mingled good-naturedly as they held rallies and meditation meetings, heard speeches and marched to protest at dozens of downtown businesses and banks.

An ice cream truck handed out treats with protest slogans, and a flash mob danced to the old disco hit "I Will Survive."

Adam Bergman took his two children and one of their friends out of their Oakland elementary school for the protest. Concerned about violence, Bergman said he wanted to stay at the back of the pack.

"I think it is important to show them what’s happening right now," he said. "It’s part of our civic duty to support freedom of speech … to stand up for the 99 percent of us."

There were some instances of vandalism, which interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said had been instigated by "60 to 70 anarchists … bent on causing problems."

When protesters smashed windows at banks, a grocery and two small businesses, videos showed the instigators were mostly wearing black, with bandanas over their faces.

Jordan said in an evening press conference that there had been no arrests

Earlier in the day, organizers expanded the Occupy Oakland encampment into a mini-city with medical pavilions, meditation tents and children’s zones

Few uniformed police officers were on the streets, although some showed up outside at least one bank to talk to the crowd about staying calm.

"Oakland has an opportunity tonight to show the country and the world what peaceful expression can look like," said City Administrator Deanna Santana. "The world is watching."

In a statement, Mayor Jean Quan said she supported the goals of the protesters, but noted that many residents would not be participating in the strike. "We must make sure that those who have to go to work and keep their businesses open are able to do so," Quan said.

Some businesses did stay open, with a few of those bringing food to the protesters – but many downtown stores also closed for the day.

The closed stores included national chains such as Rite-Aid, Tully’s Coffee and Foot Locker. Some of the stores that remained open would only accept cash to honor the strike and avoid sending credit card fees to multinational corporations and banks.

The tensest moments during the daylight hours came when dozens of protesters clustered in front of bank branches, which quickly shut their doors and let in only a few customers at a time. Demonstrators pounded on the doors, chanted slogans including, "Don’t feed the greed," and drew graffiti with the same sentiments on windows and walls.

Protesters smashed windows around 3 p.m. at a Wells Fargo Bank branch at 12th Street and Broadway, a Bank of America near Lake Merritt, a dry-cleaning store, a Chase Bank branch and a financial office on Webster Street, and at a Whole Foods store on Bay Place – where vandals spray-painted "Strike" in large letters on the outside wall

Note the absence of any mention of the attempt to burn down the homeless shelter. But, remember, no arrests were made.

Major labor unions in the city expressed support for the movement, and though they could not legally strike for the day, many workers said they would take paid time off to participate.

Which makes sense, since this is originally and ultimately a union action.

More than 300 Oakland public schoolteachers did not show up for work, and others used the day to teach their students about the dynamics of protest. Most who took the day off had alerted the district in advance that they would be observing the general strike, but a shortage of substitutes forced some classes to be consolidated, district officials said.

City officials allowed public employees to take the day off, but every Oakland police officer was required to show up for work. About 5 percent of city employees called in to say they would be taking either an unpaid furlough or paid vacation day, officials said.

How wonderful. And just think what all of this did for Oakland’s economy, which is on the brink of bankruptcy.

But that’s okay. The working stiff US taxpayers will bail them out.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

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