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(Day One of?) The Oakland General Strike

If you want a good, detailed, well-sourced account of everything that happened at (day one of) the Oakland General Strike, here's the account that was updated throughout the day by reporters for the Oakland Tribune: "Occupy Oakland Live Blog, 11/02/2011."

Capsule summary:

It was reported elsewhere that approximately 1/4 of the businesses facing onto the Occupy Oakland site did close down for the strike; I have seen no authoritative estimate of how many businesses throughout the city did so. The protesters had demanded specifically that every national bank branch in Oakland shut down, and said that they would shut them down if they did not comply. None did. So, starting at around 7 am local time, a group that started with somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 marchers left the Occupy site, marched to each bank branch in turn, and peacefully blockaded them until each one locked its doors and sent its employees home. At one location, the Wells Fargo, the crowd wasn't able to act quickly enough to stop a small group, reported to be three teenagers, from breaking the bank's window, but the crowd did stop them from doing any other damage, from entering the building, and from injuring anyone; no arrests have been made in that case yet, but police say they have photographs of the suspects.

As the banks were being shut down, a rumor floated through Twitter that the manager of the Oakland branch of Whole Foods had threatened to fire any of his employees who took the day off to participate in the general strike. (Not in the live blog linked above, but elsewhere, on Twitter: This rumor has since been shown to be false. Several Oakland Whole Foods employees did participate, and their manager arranged for other people to cover their shifts, not merely permitting this, but, according to all witnesses, actively encouraging anybody who wanted to to participate.) As the marchers were passing by the Whole Foods location on their way from one bank to another, a group estimated at between several and several dozen attacked the front of the store, breaking the window and defacing the building with paint. They were swarmed by the rest of the marchers and stopped from doing any further damage, from attempting to injure or interfere with any employee or customer, and from stealing anything; no arrests have been made yet, but police say that (again) they have photographs of people who are wanted for questioning.

Once all the banks were shut down, protesters regrouped at the Occupy site, where someone (it has not yet been reported who) chartered a fleet of buses to take those who couldn't walk that far from downtown to the West Oakland container-shipping port; those who could march, by now estimated at around 7,000, did. Police cleared traffic away from the march, for the most part, but said that if the marchers attempted to violate federal law by entering the port itself, they would be stopped or arrested. After a tense standoff between bicyclists (reported on Twitter as members of Critical Mass) and California Highway Patrol motorcyclists at the port entrance, the police relented and let the protesters through. They set up checkpoints and, by consensus of the Occupy Oakland assembly, only allowed through empty trucks leaving the port, workers leaving the port, and medical personnel going both ways. This lasted from around 7pm to around 3am.

There were no arrests at the port blockade. There were no injuries at the port itself, but during the march there, a couple in a Mercedes either failed to see or ignored police orders to divert around the march. When they attempted to drive through the march, one marcher pounded on the hood of their car; the driver responded by attempting to kill the marcher with his car. Police evacuated the wounded protester (who is expected to make a full recovery, he seems to have only been badly bruised). Police were seen to question the driver, but made no arrest; the chief of police says that the matter is still under investigation.

At about 10:30pm, while the port protest was going on, an organized sub-group of the protesters broke into, seized, and forcibly re-opened the homelessness services center, which had been foreclosed by one of the banks after the City of Oakland cut its funding, in the old Traveler's Aid Society building. They announced their intention to turn the building back over to the previous agency for free; if the previous agency would not accept this free building, they were going to start their own volunteer homeless-aid service there. As police from multiple agencies converged on the building in riot gear, the people occupying the Traveler's Aid Society building set up an improvised barricade; as the raid began around midnight, they set the barricade on fire. By 12:30 am, police had retaken the building and arrested 30 to 40 people, and the fire department had put out the burning barricade.

From there, the Oakland police, who were still in riot gear, marched to the edge of the main Occupy encampment, arriving a little before 1:00 am, and set up a silent police line on one side. While the police were (apparently) still waiting for the "go" order to clear the park yet again, protesters set up a peaceful picket line of their own facing the police. That order apparently never came; the police dispersed from the park a little before 2:00 am.


(Deleted comment)
Nov. 3rd, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
I'm still working on that.

My main worry continues to be the long-term support of Occupy Wall Street themselves, in NYC. For the most part, I consider all of the rest of the sites to be useless but harmless, at best. On the other hand, word out of Liberty Square over the weekend is that the two things I suggested people do instead of Occupy Podunk are both counter-productive at the moment. They have more people than they can house, until they get better winterized, especially with the city being fiercely determined to prevent them from doing anything that could provide heat, so no, they don't need the people from Occupy Potterville to come down to NYC ... at least, not now, not yet. And they don't need fund-raising from outside the NYC area, either, again, at least not yet -- with half a million in the bank and another $75k in credit card payments tied up in processing, they have more money than they know what to do with.

And there is this: Occupy Oakland does seem to have given the movement its first semi-martyr, the sympathetic white-guy war hero I was expecting to get shot by cops in Liberty Square in a couple of weeks, and the sudden breakdown of chain of command in Oakland, with the cops now wondering if the mayor will protect them from prosecution if they obey her orders, has fascinating potential for both good and bad. Unless the NYPD does something REALLY evil and stupid in the next couple of days, at least, the Occupy news is going to be coming out of Oakland, not NYC.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
The Occupy Podunk events also allow people to meet up with other like-minded people in their area, which would allow them to build coalitions as well as put pressure on the congresspeople in other areas.

Sure, you can do it on the internet, but I imagine that a fair amount of people who go to the protests may not have reliable internet connections, and also may not know which online sites to frequent.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
OK, in post-Citizens-United America? I have come around to the viewpoint that people have been trying to persuade me of for years: fuck voting.

You never thought to hear me, of all people, say that, have I? Well, I will: fuck voting. As long as the most corrupt, most self-serving, most destructive 0.5% get to nominate all of the statewide and national candidates for one party (I'm looking at you, David Koch employee Herman Cain) and an absolute veto over the same-level candidates for the other party? All you're voting for is for which party will get blamed for the looting of a once-great nation. Voting for your choice of Wall-Street-funded candidates, let alone going out and campaigning for them, is an utterly pointless and, worse, totally counter-productive use of your time.

Spend that time convincing people to be, until we get real Wall Street reform and real campaign financing reform, 100% single-issue voters on one issue, and that is, "whichever candidate takes the most money from Wall Street, I vote against; if I can't tell which candidate that is, I vote against all of them or I don't vote at all." Accept the fact that the government is going to keep screwing us on behalf of the 0.5% until we find some OTHER, non-governmental, hopefully non-violent but if necessary otherwise, way to strip Wall Street robber-baron banksters and their hand-picked friends of their money and their power.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
You seem to be saying, by omission, that local and primary elections are still well worthwhile?

What if Occupy assemblies were to hand-pick primary candidates, and go out knocking on doors to campaign? Or, better yet, do the same thing inside-out: follow Alinsky's model of meeting one-to-one, discovering issues, and taking political positions only afterward, and only temporarily?
Nov. 3rd, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
I'm not even as sure of local elections as I used to be. For one thing, voter suppression has long since left the ghetto; people who would vote for pro-99% candidates are likely to find out, next November, that they're mysteriously ineligible to vote. Also, saw an article a week or so ago; the Kochs, to ensure a steady of supply of pro-Koch politicians in the future, are already doing insane things like pouring 6-figure contributions into races all the way down to the local school board level. Why wouldn't they? That's what it means to be beyond wealthy; they can buy as many candidates as they want, they can buy all of them if they want, and still have more money than they're capable of spending. By this time in 2014, there may not be an honestly grass roots shoe leather candidate for any office above rural dogcatcher in this country. If even there.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
As long as the most corrupt, most self-serving, most destructive 0.5% get to nominate all the candidates for one party, that party will lose; even to an apologetic politician of a compromising kind, like the Chocolate Eclair. Let them go the way of the Whigs and the Federalists; don't fuck voting until the Masters of the Universe nominate the candidates for both parties. That isn't stable, as the Greek news should show you.
Nov. 4th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
I'd argue it's still not totally pointless. Yes, both the Democrats and the Republicans are corporate whores, but they're on retainer by DIFFERENT corporations, and their social policies stlll exist.

So, I think I'll go on pointlessly voting for the team that may think corporations are people, but it willing to allow that women are, too.
Nov. 7th, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
Well, even if you think voting is going to be useless in this case, you are still going to need to build a giant, widespread grassroots movement. I am going to assume that there are a lot of people who would like to support the OWS movement, but who can't quit their job and head out to NYC without immediately ending up completely screwed financially. The distributed 'Occupy Podunks' allow people to meet other people and network offline.