Words + Images: Occupy Oakland Stages General Strike

Source: @mrdaveyd

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

Source: @reclaimuc

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

Source: @ThinkProgress

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

Source: @garonsen

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

Source: The Bay Citizen
Courtesy of @northoaklandnow

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  • Val

    I understand that a lot of people are all hyped up after yesterday’s so-called general strike. But my perspective is a bit different. First, I live near Oakland. And the people who seem to be hurt most by the strike and the last two weeks of protests are small businesses. From the interviews I’ve seen with downtown Oakland business owners many have lost as much as 40% of their business. Not good since small businesses are already suffering.

    And yesterdays strike also caused major disruptions of the local buses here. Most of the local bus routes go through downtown and had to be re-routed. Thousands of regular folk rely on those buses to go to work, the doctor and buy food.

    Also the Occupy folks seem really proud to have shut the port down. But when those goods don’t get to the stores they are supposed to get to and hourly workers lose hours of work then what?

    The strike succeed in closing a few branches of banks in downtown. Does anyone think that’s hurting the bottom line of Wells or Citi or the other big banks? All it did was inconvenience regular folk. Many of which rely on being able to deposit their Social Security checks. Lots of people received their checks this past Monday and Tuesday.

    And finally, Oakland like most cities is having serious budget problems. Just who do you think will be footing the bill for the police overtime? The regular folk in Oakland.

    I agree with most of what the Occupy Oakland people say but with little of what they do. If their goal is to be against big banks and other big corporations so far they are a big fail. They have disrupted an untold amount of regular folks lives.

    I really hope that at some point they will realize what they’re doing and make sure that their actions do not impact the people they say they are for.

  • http://jasminllenadegracia.blogspot.com Jasmin

    I’m an Oakland teacher who did not strike yesterday, and I
    have mixed feelings about claiming a space in “the 99%”.

    I teach in the East Oakland “murder zone”, and the school I work at
    used to be one of the lowest performing schools in the state of California. My
    current principal turned it around, and our kids are thriving, but that doesn’t
    change the reality of condoms on the front steps, 3-year-olds getting killed in
    drive-bys at one in the afternoon, or seeing a notorious
    gang member be arrested a block away from school on the History Channel’s

    We happened to have a parent meeting Wednesday afternoon. There was no way I
    could’ve looked at  my parents and said I wasn’t coming to school to
    educate their children. Many parents don’t know how to read or write in English
    (I teach a bilingual class, and I have at least one set of parents that is
    completely illiterate in Spanish; the mother doesn’t even speak it),  and
    few have been able to find jobs (and the ones who have  are working nights
    stuffing containers at the very port the protesters are blocking). Yet nearly
    every family donated something to the classroom this year, mothers come every
    week to put homework together, and 18 sets of families packed themselves into
    my classroom to learn about how to support their child’s learning at home (and
    they brought food).

    This is not a slam against teachers who did strike—on Wednesday I explained the
    Occupy movement in kid-friendly terms and told my students why I wasn’t
    participating, then we read a biography about Martin Luther King and talked
    about concepts of fairness. However, I’m reluctant to call myself the 99%
    knowing it takes a certain amount of social and economic privilege to be able
    go on strike in the first place, and I can’t even begin to imagine the daily
    reality of the bottom half of the 99% who don’t even have that voice.


    Sorry for writing a novel in the comments—I’m interested to
    hear others’ reactions to Occupy Oakland.

    • Lindseymegan

      YES! So much privilege! You said everything I was thinking. I watch Occupiers or whatever theyre called walk right past the homeless in my city (Columbus, OH) each day. Not even a hello. Ignoring them. Just like EVERYONE else. I’m missing something. Isn’t this about class? I’m ignorant on the subject. All I k now is they’re upset with Wall Street and the uber rich or whatever.  I personally wish people would take to the streets, not to complain about whats not fair, but to raise awareness. About the state of education, human trafficking that happens HERE in the U.S. ,U.S sponsered torture. But I guess everyone has an agenda…..

      • Jasmin

        Yea, I can’t help being skeptical when most of the people striking wouldn’t set foot in my school’s neighborhood because of “people like that”.

      • http://twitter.com/yisraela_etc emma ytz cohen

        I live off of 14th st in downtown Oakland. Here anyway, I’ve observed various aspects of the #oo that speak specifically to homelessness issues (food, folks w/out homes participating in the chores of the space, free clinic vans coming in, etc.). There’s a long ago (however many weeks since this started) tweet about a homeless resident of my neighborhood weeping about a sense of solidarity w/people who’ve come into the plaza. There’s also a lot of visible and loud overlap w/the people who have been out there raising awareness re: gang injunctions, police brutality, austerity school closings, foreclosures out in other neighborhoods in Oakland… Also awareness about the history of Oakland as on Ohlone land…

  • Digital Coyote

    I’m proud of my hometown right now. 

    I’m also terrified that OPD is going to show its true face in epic fashion and, like usual, it’s going to be swept under the rug or cited as some sort of necessity because of the unwarranted criminogenic reputation we have with everyone outside the city.