As a resident of the Bay Area, news of the General Strike is difficult to avoid. Just yesterday, I noticed flyers distributed even in the most unlikeliest of locations declaring: “Liberate Oakland-Shut Down the 1%.” Wednesday, November 2 is the day Occupy Oakland calls for a general strike of the city whose suppression of their previously passive demonstrations were met with excessive force.
The Daily Californian reports that the strike is set to start at 9 a.m., with crowds converging at 14th Street and Broadway in Downtown Oakland, right by Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza — the site of the Oakland Commune reclaimed by protesters after their original encampment was dismantled by police early in the morning on Oct. 25. Later on, protesters plan to march to the Port of Oakland at 5 p.m. to shut it down before the 7 p.m. work shift and stop the flow of capital into the city. Straight from the flyer, it was declared (bold type included): “All banks and corporations must close for the day, or we will march on them.”
The media speculates that a large number of Bay Area residents will participate in the shut down – possibly into the thousands. Oddly enough, if it goes down, this general strike will be the nation’s first since 1946, which also took place in Oakland. However, unlike the protest that occurred 65 years ago, this strike seeks to shut down the city for only one day. Additionally, demonstrations can be expected in LA, NYC, Chicago and Philadelphia in support of today’s general strike.
Last Wednesday at Occupy Oakland’s general assembly meeting, the proposal to hold the general strike was approved by a vote of 1,484 to 46, the night after clashes between police and protesters resulted in the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and of course, the serious wounding of Iraq war vet Scott Olsen.
Police presence has reportedly been dialed way back since the violent events of that Tuesday evening, but protestors remain on guard & the authorities walking on eggshells. Oakland Police Officer’s Association President Sgt. Dom Arotzarena told The Associated Press he thinks Mayor Jean Quan was scapegoating the cops, who are basically “set to fail” if Wednesday’s actions got unruly. “We’re going to be seen as the establishment, and it’s not fair to the police, it’s not fair to anyone,” he continued.
New to the realm of political activism, programmer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and active Oakland Occupier David Skinner told the DC he hopes the message of the strike will lead to concrete changes in society: “The beauty of this movement is that it encapsulates many issues that are important to many people. We all have a place in this movement. I wish more Berkeley students were present. I want to encourage people to get out there.”
The efforts of Occupy Oakland activists included attempts to recruit a host of labor and teachers’ unions to help put the city on pause for a day. As mentioned in the leaflet, this general strike aims to show “solidarity with the worldwide Occupy Movement, End police attacks on our communities, Defend Oakland schools and libraries and fight against an economic system built on inequality & corporate power that perpetuates racism, sexism and the destruction of the environment.”