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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
"We Are One Hand" Oakland Enters World Stage as Commune Calls for General Strike
Following the brutal police dispersal of the Oakland Occupy, and subsequent crackdowns on peaceful protestors, the Oakland anti-Wall Street protestors have gotten worldwide attention. Now, the Oakland General Assembly has voted to call for a one-day general strike in Oakland
"We Are One Hand"
Oakland Commune Enters World Stage
3,000-Strong Assembly Calls for:
General Strike In Oakland!
From Oakland, late on 26th October 2011 --
With reference to the Oakland General Strike of 1946, the call rang out from Oscar Grant (City Hall) Plaza in Oakland tonight for a General Strike in Oakland in one week, on Wednesday November 2nd. Police were mostly out of sight for once, as the City gave the protestors access to the plaza in front of City Hall, as long as they were out by 10 pm. Fences surrounded the grassy area where the Occupy Oakland encampment had been until the early morning police raid on the 25th; but protestors removed these barriers after dark, as the General Assembly conducted its deliberations
The 3,000 person General Assembly crammed the amphitheater--a Greek theater-like semi-circle facing City Hall--and successfully conducted a modified-consensus discussion, which culminated in an almost unanimous decision to call a one-day general strike in one week. This assembly was well organized and not leaderless. A small coterie of organizers guided the assembly through various stages of breaking up into groups of 20 for discussion, followed by reports from the different groups, followed by a vote conducted by breaking into groups of 20 once again. Although not all 3,000 participated fully, the achievement of an organized discussion and vote, within a limited time, was quite an accomplishment. "Mic check" repetition was used throughout the evening to make sure everyone in the large crowd could hear.
Strike While the Iron Is Hot
The mostly young, white protestors have their work cut out for them to involve labor and the black and brown community in their plans for an Oakland-wide protest strike. And their plan so far lacks any definite demands. But the desire to strike while the iron was hot overcame all objections. And if just half these folks get out into the unions and the community and build for this, they just might bring it off. More power to them.
Next: Mobilize at 5 pm on Thursday, the 27th, at Oscar Grant Plaza, to discuss and plan logistics for the general strike. Union members: come out for this meeting.
"We Are One Hand": Solidarity from New York City & Cairo to SF
Following the brutal police dispersal of the Oakland Occupy encampment early in the morning of October 25th, and the police attacks on protestors on the streets later that night, the world has taken note of what is going on with the Wall Street protest movement in Oakland.
Aside from the successful vote for the general strike itself, the biggest cheers tonight went up for the report that the New York City Wall Street Occupiers, having been unable to take the streets so far, did so tonight to solidarize with Oakland protestors. They chanted, "We Are Oakland," and "Oakland, Oakland, Fight Police Brutality." The latter chant was taken up in the amphitheater in Oakland tonight.
And from Cairo Egypt, another message of solidarity came in, and protestors chanted, "We Are Tahrir Square." From Cairo came the message, "Cairo, Oakland, We Are One Hand."
Oakland protestors were also informed of an imminent attack on the SF Occupy in Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco. As you read this, the attack on the SF protestors has probably already happened, as cops were mobilized on nearby streets and ready to go before midnight. But when the General Assembly in Oakland was over at 10 pm, people were prevented from entering BART stations to travel to SF to support their Occuoy comrades there! The BART station at Embarcadero in SF was also shut to prevent their arrival!
Oakland Demonstrators Have Been Peaceful… and Creative
Having been prevented from getting on BART to go to SF, protestors marched through the streets of Oakland tonight, without incident. This was mainly due to the fact that the cops were keeping a low profile. But even the local TV news was forced to report that there was no vandalism or other violence from protestors. They should know. Their hovering helicopters showed every move, as protestors revisited 8th and Washington, the site of a police attack yesterday, and then headed back to 14th and Broadway.
Over the two weeks of the Oakland Occupy, during the dispersal of the encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza, and in the protest marches before and after the dispersal, the Oakland protestors have been remarkably disciplined and peaceful. In the Saturday, October 22nd march through Oakland, which was called to protest the threatened dispersal (plans for which were already well underway by the police--see below), 1500 or so took the streets from 14th and Broadway down to Lake Merritt, Grand Avenue and Lakeshore, and back around the lake.
One bank, a Chase branch on Lakeshore, was temporarily invaded, but nothing provocative happened, and protestors left the bank and moved on. Reception from observers was friendly, as the march passed through several neighborhoods, marching in the streets the whole way. Discipline was maintained, and trapped cars were allowed to escape when necessary. Cops stayed on the periphery. At the head of the march was a creative "wall of books:" Several young activists each carried a large placard with a book title on it, including Franz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, Assata, by Assata Shakur, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and Caliban and the Witch, by Silvia Federici
Victim of Police Attack Hospitalized
Scot Olsen, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq War, and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was hit in the head and almost killed by a police tear-gas canister during the attack on protestors last night, the 25th. He has a 2-inch skull fracture. Demonstrators were able to move him off to the side during the Tuesday night attack, and get him to Highland Hospital, where he remains today. As of this afternoon (the 26th), he was unconscious, intubated, and reportedly in "stable" condition.
Olsen wasn't the only victim of this brutal and unprovoked police attack on peaceful protestors. Many others dealt with tear gas inhalation and other injuries. Local lawyer Jesse Palmer, interviewed on Flashpoints on KPFA (kpfa.org/flashpoints) reported seeing an older woman in a wheel chair who was somehow stuck under the police barricade at 14th and Broadway and couldn't move. She complained, cops ignored her, and when she complained again, they dragged her out of her chair and threw her on the ground.
For good reports on the cataclysmic police attacks on protestors on October 25th, look up the eyewitness, frontline reports on Hard Knock Radio and Flashpoints on KPFA. Go to kpfa.org to find these two programs for 26 October. While you're at it, subscribe to KPFA. This Pacifica station covers local breaking events such as this, and deserves your support.
Oakland Politics: What a Mess!
The plan to destroy the Oakland Occupy encampment was hatched by interim police chief Howard Jordan and City Administrator Deanna Santana over a week ago, in order to line up the 13 or so other jurisdictions of cops that would (allegedly) be necessary to control the unruly masses in Oakland during the crackdown. Mayor Jean Quan, a former leftist and opponent of the gang injunctions that are all the rage now with the law-and-order nut jobs, only got on board with this plan after it was in motion (see Matier and Ross, Plan To Break Up Oakland Camp Set In Motion Last Week, SF Chronicle, 26 October 2011). Quan has now put her imprimatur on, and is responsible for a brutal attack on peaceful protestors, whose 99 percent, anti-Wall Street message is ringing very loudly around the world.
Quan earned the hatred of the local police when as a supervisor she joined with others in a barrier line to separate cops from protestors over the police murder of Oscar Grant. She then got into the mayor's office as a result of the newly instituted preference voting system, in which voters indicate their second and third preferences on the ballot. Much to the chagrin of the Oakland establishment, Don Perata lost and Quan won because of the redistribution of votes under this system. Already rightists, including former Dellums supporters, are trying to remove her from office.
Thus Quan, like Ron Dellums before her, and like Obama in many respects, is now a former darling of the left who has shown by her actions that holding executive office in this reactionary capitalist system gives no relief and holds no options for the working people. Though you may be attacked from both the right and the left, once in office, that's it: you're a figurehead for the ruling class, even at the local level.
-- Chris Kinder