Compiled by Arturo R. García
Did a small group of activists manage in just 5 short days of organizing to bring about the first general strike in the United States in generations?
Not exactly. But while there was no broad, city-wide general strike of the sort last seen in this country in 1946, one shouldn’t judge the effort a failure. A day of scattered actions across the city culminated in a massive “occupation” that shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest container port in the country. When it was announced that operations had been suspended for the night, thousands of people partied around trucks halted in their tracks, celebrating a victory in their struggle with authorities that began with the violent eviction of Occupy Oakland last week. The Oakland police, and Mayor Jean Quan, stung by negative press stemming from the clashes, essentially gave the port to the movement.
– Joshua Holland, Alternet
Oakland school officials say about 360 teachers didn’t show up for work, as thousands of people joined anti-Wall Street protests throughout the city.
Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint says roughly 18 percent of the district’s 2,000 teachers were absent. That’s compared to the 1-percent rate on a typical Wednesday.
Several teachers’ unions have expressed support for the Occupy Oakland movement.
Flint says the district got substitute teachers for most classrooms. Where that’s not possible, children were moved to other classrooms.
In addition to the school district absences, employees of city-run preschool programs for low-income children also took the day off in large numbers.
Officials say 15 of the city’s 17 Head Start centers had to close because of low staffing. Parents were notified in advance and made other arrangements.
– The Associated Press
Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, a supporter of the movement who had nevertheless come under fire from the protesters after last week’s confrontations, had called for a minimal police presence on Wednesday. The police did keep a very low profile throughout the afternoon as the crowd grew and as splinter groups of hundreds of protesters broke off from the main body and pushed into surrounding streets.
“We support many of the demands, particularly the focus on foreclosures, fair lending practices and making capital available to low-income communities,” Ms. Quan said at a news conference.
Police officers needed to be on hand, she said, to protect everyone’s free-speech rights in balance with legitimate public safety concerns.
– Malia Woolan, The New York Times
The demonstrations in Oakland were largely peaceful and police said there were no arrests.
Police estimated that a crowd of about 3,000 had gathered at the port at the height of the demonstration around dusk. Some had marched from the city’s downtown, while others had been bused to the port.
The crowd disrupted operations by overwhelming the area with people and blocking exits with chain-link fencing and illegally parked vehicles. The demonstrators also erected fences to block main streets to the port. No trucks were allowed into or out of the area.
Port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said evening operations had been “effectively shut down.”
And later port officials released a statement saying that maritime activity would be cancelled indefinitely, but they hoped to resume the work day Thursday.
“Our hope is that the work day can resume tomorrow and that Port workers will be allowed to get to their jobs without incident,” the statement read. “Continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region.”
– Terence Chea, Lisa Leff and Terry Collins, The Associated Press