Oakland braces for strike, marches. Can Occupy protesters close the port?
Oakland, Calif., is braced Wednesday for a general strike, called by Occupy Oakland. The city has seen some of the Occupy movement’s worst violence so far, but union participation in the strike may have a pacifying effect.
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The call for a general strike follows a violent clash last week after law enforcement officers moved on Occupy Oakland protesters to dismantle the local tent encampment in downtown Oakland, firing tear gas into the crowds. An Iraq war veteran was severely injured when he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister, sending him to the hospital.Skip to next paragraph
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“We have people in our town who can’t allow their children out at night, not because of gangs, but out of fear of police actions,” says Brill. He is quick to add that “we consider the police part of the working 99 percent, but we want accountability for those few who think they are outside the law and can act without oversight.”
Over at Oaklanders Assistance Center, a community liaison group between the mayor’s office and residents, liaison officer Linda Teixeira says detailed preparations are being made, with an emphasis on preventing violence.
The mood in the city is calm, Ms. Teixeira says, adding that many businesses have phoned her office for help on how to be ready. She notes that there appears to be widespread support for the mass action in the community. The participation of the large unions actually might help to calm things down a bit because they are very organized and used to doing big strikes,” she says.
The list of organizations endorsing Wednesday’s general strike includes teachers and carpenters unions as well as the local UAW. The numbers have been growing daily, according to a list at the Occupy Oakland website.
Observers from across the country suggest the Oakland general strike may help to broaden the larger Occupy movement’s impact.
“This will certainly kick the Occupy movement into a larger gear,” says Heather Gautney, assistant sociology professor at Fordham University in New York City. The issues being highlighted in the Oakland action – from bringing accountability to public officials as well as concerns over great wealth inequities and corporate malfeasance – lie at the heart of the larger Occupy movement, she notes. “This day will certainly push awareness of issues of inequality … to another level,” she says.
Organizers are invoking history in their effort to raise the profile of their call to action.
At a Monday press conference announcing the Wednesday action, organizer Louise Michel referenced local history, saying, “we stand here at the intersection of Telegraph and Broadway, this is the epicenter of the Oakland General Strike of 1946, the last general strike in the indigenous lands now occupied by the United States.”
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