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Scott Olsen Cannot Talk, General Strike Nov. 2!
Shut Down the 1%
[Photo: Scott Olsen]
Scott Olsen Cannot Talk Due to the Brain Injury Caused by Police Violence
General Strike and Mass Protest on Weds. Nov. 2!
Drop the Charges Against All Occupy Protesters!
By Steven Argue
On October 25, at about 5:00 AM, over 500 and cops including the Oakland Police and cops from 16 other jurisdictions attacked peaceful protesters at the Occupy Oakland encampment on 14th and Broadway. They moved in with armored vehicles and full riot gear and viciously attacked the Occupy Oakland protesters. Through the day the number of protesters grew to about 3,000 people despite continued police violence with protests moving to a number of locations. The protests were repeatedly attacked by the police, who clubbed demonstrators, fired concussion grenades, fired tear gas at least four different times, and shot protesters with wooden slugs, bean bag canisters, and possibly rubber bullets. Eighty five people were arrested.
Scott Olsen, a 24 year-old Iraq War veteran and member of Iraq War Veterans Against the War, was shot in the head by the police with a projectile. Scott was seriously injured and was knocked out in critical condition with swelling on his brain. He has now woken up, but cannot talk due to the brain injury caused by police violence. He has sustained an injury to the speech center of his brain.
Police forces across the country have been carrying out repression against the Occupy protesters with brutality and arrests in New York, Denver, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, and elsewhere. Unarmed protesters have been repeatedly beaten, maced, tear gassed, and arrested for exercising their right to free speech. Meanwhile, armed Tea Party protesters who have pushed an extreme rightwing agenda of austerity for the working class have showed up at protests armed, but are not touched by the police.
There is no question that there has been a brutal response by America’s rulers to working class people and students demanding change to benefit the majority. It is a mass movement has emerged because people are fed up with a society run by and for the wealthy. We are fed up with a society where a CEO’s salary is 475 times higher than the wages of the average worker, where unemployment has gone through the roof with official figures a lie and the real numbers at 17%, where the Democrats and Republicans are spending trillions of dollars on imperialist wars and dictators that are terrorizing the people of the world, where the Republicans are blaming Social Security and Medicare instead of war for the debt and Obama goes along with it putting “everything on the table” for cuts, everything that is except the war budget, a society where much of the working class is without health care and without a job, where Wall Street is bailed out but Obama waits for a Republican controlled congress and a looming election to unveil a half ass jobs program that now predictably has not passed, where youth who go to college face a depressingly downwardly mobile future, where U.S. corporations are making record profits at a projected 1.6 trillion dollars this year but the majority does not benefit, where the planet is in a deep crisis with climate change but Obama and the Republicans are easing environmental restrictions and not even considering the actions needed to save our world, where innocent people like Troy Davis are put to death, where Bradley Manning sits in prison for allegedly exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq, and where the average person has absolutely no voice in mainstream politics and the mainstream media.
The capitalist government’s response to the protests? Typical violence and repression. At the heart of the capitalist system is a police force whose job it is to abuse labor, people of color, the poor, the homeless, and leftists. It is their job as professional thugs to protect Wall Street from the 99%. The hierarchies of police forces have purposely protected and promoted the most brutal police with the least connection to humanity in order to have a police force that is always loyal to the capitalist government and capitalist class at times like this. They work for the wealthy 1%, not us.
General Strike and Mass Protest on November 2nd
In response to the Oakland violence, on Wednesday October 26, 2011 nearly 2,000 people reclaimed the square that police violence drove them from, renamed it Oscar Grant Plaza, and voted for a general strike and mass demonstration to be held on November 2nd.
Oscar Grant square is a fitting name. Oscar Grant was a working class Black man and father of a young daughter who was handcuffed and executed by an Oakland Bart cop while laying face down in 2009. The BART cop who murdered Oscar Grant is named Johannes Mehserle. It was only due to cell phone footage and mass protests that Mehserle was finally charged with murder. Yet, the criminal injustice system, which is routinely unfair to people who aren’t rich, unfair to people of color, and unfair to people who are leftists, let Johannes Mehserle off the hook despite overwhelming evidence murder. Mesherle was given a slap on the wrist and convicted of “involuntary man slaughter”. He did lose his job, which is unusual in cases of police violence, but he walks free today.
At renamed and retaken Oscar Grant Square 1607 people voted on the resolution for a general strike and mass protest on November 2nd. The vote tallies were 1484 in favor of the resolution, 77 abstained, and 46 voted against it. This passed the proposal with 96.9% voting in favor. The Oakland General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.
Some claimed this was not the decision of a union so it had little meaning. Yet, with polls showing the current popularity of the Occupy movement at 37% combined with the shock and anger caused by police brutality and repression, this call for a general strike was far more than some empty gesture. Unions are indeed taking it seriously.
Backing the call for the general strike is the 3,000 member Carpenters Local 713 that voted to join the strike and join protests at Oscar Grant Square. They passed a resolution that ends by saying they “resolve to support the call of the 2,000 Oaklanders at Occupy Oakland for a one-day strike in Oakland for Wednesday November 2nd, 2011, to protest our country’s rising inequality and the brutal actions of the police in the city of Oakland, California.”
Also supporting the strike are key leaders of the ILWU and IBU in the Bay Area who put out a statement titled, “Defend Occupy Oakland with the Power of Organized Labor”. They state, “As a first step, in defending our union and others against economic and political repression, we need to mobilize our members to participate in the rally and occupation November 2 in Oscar Grant Plaza. Shut it down!”
That ILWU / IBU statement also denounces other police violence including a 2003 Oakland Police attack on anti-war protesters using the same potentially lethal munitions as were just used. That police attack injured six longshoreman including Billy Kepo’s.
“Local 10 longshoreman Billy Kepo’o was hit in the hand by a police tear gas canister causing a bloody mess. Now, Iraqi war vet, Scott Olsen, was hit in the head with a police projectile, causing a fracture and putting him in critical condition in Highland Hospital. This is exactly what killed one of the strikers in Seattle in the Big Strike of 1934. That history of police violence against strikers is why our Local 10 Constitution bans cops from membership in our union.”
Further strengthening the coming strike on the Port of Oakland is a resolution passed unanimously by the Occupy Oakland strike assembly on Friday October 29 that calls for a march to blockade of the Port of Oakland. The statement reads:
“On Wednesday, November 2nd as part of the Oakland General Strike, we will march on the Port of Oakland and shut it down. We will converge at 5pm at 14th and Broadway and march to the port to shut it down before the 7pm night shift.
“We are doing this in order to blockade the flow of capital on the day of the General Strike, as well as to show our commitment to solidarity with Longshore workers in their struggle against EGT in Longview, Washington. EGT is an international grain exporter which is attempting to rupture longshore jurisdiction. The driving force behind EGT is Bunge LTD, a leading agribusiness and food company which reported 2.4 billion dollars in profit in 2010; this company has strong ties to Wall Street. This is but one example of Wall Street’s corporate attack on workers.
“The Oakland General Strike will demonstrate the wide reaching implications of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The entire world is fed up with the huge disparity of wealth caused by the present system. Now is the time that the people are doing something about it. The Oakland General Strike is a warning shot to the 1% – their wealth only exists because the 99% creates it for them.”
A shut down of the ports by the ILWU and IBU will be a powerful step in defense of democratic rights against the brutality being dished out by the Oakland Police and Mayor Jean Quan. The Port of Oakland is the fourth largest port in the United States and its shut down will be costly for the capitalists. In addition, this is an opening shot of proletarian power versus the repression of the capitalists and their state. The capitalists and their government want to avoid this type of action. Those in power would prefer the proletariat continue to feel helpless under a police state and two party system rather than begin to feel our power by shutting down production and transport.
It is no coincidence that after the General Assembly voted for a general strike Mayor Jean Quan tried to make an apology for her actions to an Occupy Oakland meeting the next day. She said, "Ultimately, it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened," and then claimed: "We can change America, but we must unite and not divide our city. I hope we can work together." Obviously she is feeling the pressure, but the fact she was willing to use police violence in the first place to shut down the constitutional rights of protesters indicates that she is a representative of the wealthy 1% who feels threatened by the Occupy movement. She was rightly booed out of Oscar Grant Square by people demanding she “resign!”
California Nurses Association Treasurer Martha Kuhl, an Oakland RN, rightly denounced this Democrat Party mayor saying, “This unwarranted attack on peaceful protesters places Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in shameful company with mayors like Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and other cities whose response to public expression of protest is repression rather than respect for the rights of free speech and assembly.”
On November 2nd we will teach the ruling capitalists and their government that needed respect by shutting them down. Join the general strike and mass march November 2nd.
Shut Down the 1%
General Strike & Mass Day of Action called for by Occupy Oakland
Everyone to the Streets!
No Work! No School!
Mass gatherings at 14th & Broadway:
9:00am • 12 noon • 5:00pm
5:00pm start at 14th and Broadway and march to the port to shut it down before the 7pm night shift
All banks and corporations must close down for the day or we will march on them
Liberation News joins the Oakland Occupy General Assembly in Demanding:
• Solidarity with the worldwide Occupy Movement
• End Police Attacks on Our Communities
• Defend Oakland Schools & Libraries
• Against an economic system built on inequality & corporate power that perpetuates racism, sexism & the destruction of the environment
And Liberation News adds the additional demand:
Drop The Charges Against All Occupy Protesters!
This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free.
Read About the 1934 San Francisco General Strike
The Big Strike, by Mike Quin