Occupy Oakland general strike – as it happened
Occupy Oakland movement.Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Oakland, California, for a general strike and mass day of action in support of the
Workers, university students and school pupils are all being urged to rally near the Occupy camp, with banks and large corporations expected to be targeted by marches.
The strike aims to “shut down” the city, culminating with a march to the port of Oakland to prevent the transit of cargo.
Activity is expected to centre on 14th Street and Broadway – where Scott Olsen, a former marine, was hit and seriously injured by a police projectile last week.
Three demonstrations are planned, one at 9am local time (12pm ET), another at noon (3pm ET), and a third at 5pm (8pm ET). There are likely to be other, spontaneous “autonomous actions” – probably marches on banks and large corporations – taking place through the day.
Our reporter Adam Gabbatt is on the scene in Oakland and will be providing live updates. We also have reporters in New York at Occupy Wall Street and will be monitoring developments from other Occupy sites throughout the day.
In New York, a veterans’ march in under way. Reporter Ryan Deveraux writes:
Men and women representing each branch of the US military have come together in New York City to stand in solidarity with the growing Occupy Wall Street movement. Dozens of veterans chose to march from the Vietnam veterans memorial in Lower Manhattan to Zuccotti Park – re-named Liberty Square by demonstrators who set up camp there six weeks ago.
Military support for the movement was bolstered last week when Scott Olsen, a US marine who served two tours in Iraq, was critically wounded protesting in Oakland after police fired tear gas canisters and less-than-lethal rounds into the peaceful crowd.
Among those marching today is navy veteran Joshua Shepherd, who was standing next to Olsen when he was injured. The veterans, including men and women who served in a number of conflicts over many generations, began their demonstration using Occupy Wall Street’s signature call and response amplification system, the “human mic”, to declare themselves members of the so-called 99%.
My colleague Adam Gabbatt is in Oakland, and send this dispatch:
About 300 people turned out for the first rally of a day of action in Occupy Oakland.
Demonstrators have called for a general strike in the city, converging around three demonstrations at 9am, 12pm and 5pm, with marches on banks and the Port of Oakland planned throughout the day.
Numbers in the camp swelled overnight ahead of the strike, with all available space at the base of Frank H Ogawa plaza filled.
Among the newcomers was Kyle Vachon, who travelled from Occuy Chico on Tuesday night, arriving at 9pm. He was sitting at the Chico camp when a friend asked if he wanted to attend.
“He was like: ‘Dude, we’re going to Oakland, do you wanna go to Oakland?’,” Vachon said. “Then he said: ‘Get in the car.’”
Vachon travelled down with three others and stayed in a tent overnight. He was planning to march today.
At the 9am rally, protesters gathered in the crossroads at Broadway and 14th, at the corner of Frank H Ogawa plaza and where Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, was injured during clashes with police on Tuesday 25 October.
In the warm sunshine protesters turned back traffic as they listened to speakers explain the plans for the day.
Occupy Oakland has pledged to march on any banks not supporting the strike – so, all banks – from 2pm, while demonstrators will march to and picket the Port of Oakland from 4pm, bidding to shut down shipping trade for the day.
Cat Brooks, Occupy protester and campaigner for justice for Oscar Grant – the 22-year-old black man killed by Oakland police at a Bart subway station – said the action was about “saying no to the 1% and yes to the 99%”.
“This is a warning, a test, to the 1%. We don’t need them; they need us.”
Here’s more from Ryan Devereaux in New York, watching the march of servicemen and women in support of Occupy Wall Street.
Led by Scott Olsen’s friend, Navy veteran Josh Shepherd, service men and women marched in two-by-two columns along sidewalks through Lower Manhattan.
As the march made its way into the financial district, a police barricade was moved aside and the veterans were allowed to move onto Broad Street. For what seems to be the first time since the demonstrations in New York City began six weeks ago, Occupy Wall Street protesters were allowed onto Wall Street itself.
With six New York City Police Department officers on horseback looking on, the procession paused in front of the New York Stock Exchange. There, Shepherd read a brief statement reiterating the oath members of the armed forces take to defend the US constitution. He then added: “We are here to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.”
At the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, the veterans stopped and observed a moment of silence for Scott Olsen, before passing the financial district’s iconic bull statue.
Turning in the direction of the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Liberty Square, the cadence of “Left, left, left, right, left,” was paused by a call-back chant of, “Hold your heads and hold them high, the 99 percent is passing by.”
The veterans arrived to the plaza amid cheers and applause. One young man described the passing troops as his “heroes.”
Back in Oakland, Adam Gabbatt reports that the first of three planned marches of the day is now over. Here’s a picture from earlier:
Adam has been to the port of Oakland– there were reports that longshore workers were on strike this morning and trucks were not being let in: this isn’t true. Adam reports: “Everyone I spoke to here says is a longer line than usual, but as a result of workers walking out over safety issue yesterday.”
Cranes are operating, and trucks can be seen moving in and out of the port, Adam says.
This picture gives a sense of the scale of the protest in Oakland today.
Adam Gabbatt estimates that a crowd of around 1,000 marched through the streets, bringing traffic to a halt. He reports that police appeared content to let the march take place, and did not make any attempt to halt it.
Here’s more detail from Adam Gabbatt in Oakland on the situation at the city’s port.
Rumours were rife this morning that Occupy Oakland’s general strike had scored an early victory by encouraging longshore workers to shut down the Port of Oakland.
Protesters plan to march to the port later today, but were told that it had already been shut by workers refusing to work – apparently as a show of support for the Occupy movement.
I headed down to the port at 10am to check out the rumours. They weren’t true. While there was a backlog of trucks in a line at the port, the line was moving, as were cranes, which were busy loading and unloading containers.
Workers said there was a longer line than usual, but this was due to workers having walked out yesterday over a separate issue relating to safe working practices.
Returning to #OccupyOakland, speakers at the corner of Frank H Ogawa plaza were already backtracking on earlier claims the port had closed, but warning it was only a matter of time.
“Earlier we told you the Port of Oakland was closed. The port of Oakland is not closed… yet,” Clarence Thomas, a Longshore worker at the port, told the 1000 strong crowd.
Another speaker said plans go ahead for a picket of the port this afternoon. Protesters plan to march to the waterfront from 4pm.
There was a police presence at the port at 10.30am, in the form of around 20 officers on motorcycles, but it was unclear if this was in preparation for the Occupy Oakland action.
Adam has been speaking to Emily Yates, a friend of Scott Olsen, who is still in hospital after being hit by a projectile apparently fired by police when they tried to clear the Occupy Oakland camp last week.
Yates is a fellow Iraq war veteran, having served two tours, and along with Olsen is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
She said Olsen had shown his support for the march by liking a post on Facebook. “[The post] said that we’re carrying thoughts of him today at the strike,” Yates said.
Yates added that Olsen was “aware of all the stuff that is happening, and he’s really stoked about it.” Yates is meeting fellow Iraq Veterans Against the War later today and will be part of the march to the Port of Oakland.
In New York, Iraq war veterans, who had earlier marched along the sidewalks of Lower Manhattan to Zuccotti Park, have been addressing crowds at the Occupy Wall Street camp. Ryan Devereaux writes:
Gathered at the east end of the park e a young man in an Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirt, and fatigues kicked off a press conference for the demonstrators occupying the plaza.
“My name is Joesph Carter,” he said through the human mic, “I am a two-time Iraq war veteran and this is the only occupation that I believe in.
“For too long our voices have been silenced, suppressed and ignored in favour of the voices of Wall Street and the banks and the corporations. Their money buys them disproportionate influence over the decision-makers in Congress.
“For ten years we’ve been engaged in wars that have enriched the wealthiest one percent, decimated our economy and left our nation with a generation of traumatized and wounded veterans that will require care for years to come.”
In Oakland, another march is under way – this time, writes Adam Gabbatt, a loose confederation of the Oakland education association and general Occupy protesters.
John Robb, from Fairfax, California, managed almost singlehandedly to shut down a Chase bank branch.
“I got here at 10.30am, one my own,” Robb told the Guardian from his position seated in front of the entrance.
“Security kept pushing me away, but I stayed by myself for another 30 minutes. Then someone else arrived, they still pushed us away. Then the big march came past and we called everyone over, they came and the bank locked the doors.”
The march Robb referred to is a loose confederation of the Oakland education association and general Occupy protesters. Since leaving Frank H Ogawa plaza te march has increased to perhaps two thousand strong and is currently encamped outside Bank of America’s HQ.
Some protesters voiced their desire to smash the bank’s windows; other protesters stood in front of the bank and prevented them from doing so.
Here’s a summary of events today.
Thousands of people have been marching in Oakland, California, where an attempt by police to break up an “Occupy” camp a week ago led to Iraq veteran Scott Olsen suffering a serious head injury. The day has so far passed off with good humour and without trouble. But the protesters’ desire to “shut down” the city with a general strike appear not to have materialised.
Rumours that the Port of Oakland had been shut down by the protests proved unfounded. There were longer lines at the port after workers walked out yesterday over a separate issue relating to safe working practices. But most workers turned up for work today.
In New York, army veterans have marched through lower Manhattan to the Occupy Wall Street Camp at Zuccotti Park. The march passed off without incident, and veterans have been speaking in support of Olsen and the Occupy movement at Zuccotti Park.
Good evening, we’re re-opening our live coverage of the Oakland general strikes with reports coming through via Reuters that protesters have ”effectively shutdown” Oakland port operations. The Port has issued the following statement:
At this time, maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland. Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so.
Adam Gabbatt has filed this dispatch from the protest march.
Thousands joined the march to shut down the Port Of Oakland, protesters appearing to surprise themselves with the strength of the turn out.
As the march weaved through downtown Oakland it was difficult to assess size, but when protesters walked up the bridge to the port, affording the first opportunity to look back at the crowd, there were gasps and whoops.
The demonstration stretched some 300m, spanning six lanes of traffic, with little to no police presence for the first two hours.
Once inside the port protesters were welcomed by truck drivers hooting horns. The younger and more agile quickly scaled trucks, waving flags as thousands of protesters continued to walk into the main port area.
An impromptu, human mic facilitated, discussion decided the group would split into four groups, each picketing a separate gate or area.
I was with the last group to stop, who only did so when their path towards Bay Bridge – they havent decided yet whether to occupy it – was blocked by a line of 40 police officers in riot gear.
The bulk of the group – perhaps 500-600 people – remained 400m from the police line, chanting “We have achieved what we wanted,” but a trickle of about 30 marched on.
The smaller group stopped in front of the police line, and there was a (peaceful) impasse, before the police left without explanation.
Some 20 people marched on, toward Bay Bridge, while the bulk of the group remained 400m back, in the darkness.
The aim was to prevent Longshore workers getting into the port for the start of their 7pm shift. They seem to have achieved it.
The latest from @occupyoakland on the port shutdown: At port of America with 500 people Port is shut down people picketing in circles and chanting- cops down road are staying put
Here is the full statement from the Port of Oakland – contained within, a request for those marching to allow workers to get home to their families safely.
Oakland, Calif.— November 2, 2011 — At this time maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland. Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so.
Safety, security, respect and dignity for everyone remain of paramount importance. We continue to ask that everyone remain calm, respectful, and safe.
Specifically, we ask that the marchers allow port workers safe passage home. Please allow your fellow 99% to get home safe to their families.
The Port of Oakland is an economic engine: Through our activities and those of our tenants and customers we support over 73,000 jobs in our region and are connected to more than 800,000 jobs nationwide. These are jobs for the 99%.
Adam Gabbatt is now heading back to the main Occupy Camp.
Protesters were in place to blockade the port, in four separate groups, from 6pm. The plan was to block Longshore workers from getting to their 7pm shift, but some got impatient, chanting to “take the [bay] bridge” after hearing erroneous reports that the San Francisco occupy contingent had occupied their side.
The demands were tempered, and most protesters sat and waited – awaiting for confirmation from arbiters at the international Longshore workers union as to whether the port had officially closed. By 8pm this hadn’t come, and the crowd had halved in size.
I’ve just left the port and headed for the main Occupy Oakland camp. The fresh rumour is that there will be a march, or marches, at 10pm. Whether they will be peaceful, like most of the action today, or tainted by the violence that saw Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America all damaged this afternoon, remains to be seen.
Police have said a pedestrian, identified by local media as a protester, was struck by a vehicle in downtown Oakland during the march and taken to a local hospital. There are varying reports as to the extent of the person’s injuries, but no official word as yet.
Some more on the situation regarding the protester hit by a car. This piece from the San Francisco Chronicle reports that two people were injured and both appeared to be conscious in hospital.
Following many false reports on twitter that a protester hit by a car had died, Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan confirmed they were taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Time for a summary of the latest this evening.
Police estimated that a crowd of about 3,000 gathered at the Port of Oakland by early evening. Some had marched from the California city’s downtown, while others had been bused to the port.
Occupy demonstrators forced a halt to operations Oakland’s port which is the fifth busiest port in the US, on Wednesday night.
In a statement put out by Oakland Port confirming the closure, officials said maritime area operations would resume “when it is safe and secure to do so.”
Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the pedestrian hit by a car was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Categories: The Western Press
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