18% of Teachers and the tacit support of the Longshoreman’s Union gave backbone to the thousands of regular citizens loosely gathered under the rubric of being the poor or underclasses and against corporate policy that directly lowers quality of life in Oakland.
Protesters against Police Brutality were another specific and large group who joined the largely peaceful protest and rally that closed not only the Port of Oakland, but dozens of local businesses that shut in solidarity with the workers.
Largely peaceful and utterly inspiring for a workday in Oakland, the Rally was beautiful and lasted more than 24 hours – since the last of the protesters didn’t leave the Port until late this morning.
At 1pm, Kids marched as a group carrying a banner and chanting on behalf of their teachers. People gathered, spoke, shared protest, supported the Occupy Movement and organized together on a sunny, breezy Wednesday.
In the evening the protesters marched to and successfully closed the 5th largest Port in the country – and workers at the Port showed solidarity. The Port was closed all night.
After midnight, the Movement closed off Broadway between 14th and 16th streets and occupied a vacant building – which organizers say formerly held a non-profit that housed itinerant visitors – and a bonfire was made in the middle of the street, graffiti painted on the largely unused walls, and general chanting against the corporate rape of the middle class.
The Oakland Police arbitrarily decided they had had enough and that the flames from the bonfire – which was in the middle of the pavement in the middle of the road – was a threat to neighboring businesses. They demanded the protesters disband. The protesters refused.
Tear gas and explosive “non-lethals” were used and several protesters were arrested.
The Oakland Police and Mayor Quan continue to exercise the use of tear gas and brutal tactics in “rounding-up” and arresting protesters. There is no clear standard of behavior that constitutes policy – only a vague feeling of the authority wanting to decide when bedtime is – isn’t that called a curfew?
No more than five businesses suffered broken windows and three of these were banks – stated targets. The others, a grocery story (Whole Foods) and Tully’s franchise Coffeeshop were tagged as well.
A rumor spread quickly (and made RT) that Whole Foods threatened its employees with action if they elected to participate in the Strike. The rumor remains unsubstantiated, but the single word”STRIKE” was painted on the front of the store early in the day and two windows were broken.
There was considerably more graffiti in the area at sunrise than there had been at sunset the night before.
In the morning the Port remained closed briefly as protesters held for a time before being coerced into removing themselves for the sake of workers returning for their shifts.
This negotiation between the Occupy Movement and the authority in any city – Oakland, LA, NYC, Tulsa, Seattle – is being conducted on Federal standards by the protesters and State or even City standards by the police.
How can this be? The First Amendment is unequivocal. Occupy Oakland should be able to charge Jean Quan and the police in Federal court for abuse. But can they?
No, because the numbers – while considerable – weren’t anywhere near big enough. Now that’s arbitrary application of the rule of law.
This was no General Strike … but it was a rally of the kind we’ve seen for the past decade labeled as a General Strike to great success within the media and civic sectors. There was an overwhelming feeling of agreement with the consensus expressions given by organizers when calling for the strike.