Protests shut down Port of Oakland

Thousands of protesters blocked the Port of Oakland Nov. 2, bringing work there to a halt. “Maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland,” port authorities said in a statement. “Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so.” Protesters, who streamed across a freeway overpass to mass at the port gates, stood atop tractor-trailers stopped in the middle of the street. Others climbed onto scaffolding over railroad tracks as a rock band played using amplifiers powered by stationary bike generators. Protesters also blocked streets near City Hall. The general strike was called by Occupy Oakland and supported by residents, a few small businesses, teachers and nurses with the California Nurses Association. The Oakland Education Association (OEA) executive board unanimously endorsed Occupy Oakland’s “General Strike/Mass Day of Action” call, urging members to participate by “taking personal leave to join actions at Frank Ogawa Plaza, doing informational picketing at school sites, and holding teach-ins on the history of general strikes and organizing for economic justice.” The general strike is the first event of its kind in Oakland since 1946.

Protesters have also taken over a vacant building, the former home of the Traveler’s Aid Society, on the 500 block of 16th Street in Downtown. A party is said to be underway there as we write. A group of some 300 protesters, many wearing black and face masks, smashed windows at a Wells Fargo bank branch while chanting “Banks got bailed out. We got sold out.” Other banks and a Whole Foods Market were also vandalized.

There was also an outburst of pathological car culture that claimed casualties. Reports the Oakland Tribune:

About 8 p.m., a man and a woman were struck by a car at 11th Street and Broadway. The male driver of a silver Mercedes ran a red light and struck the pair, said Joe Jackson, 37, of Oakland, who witnessed the incident.

Onlookers said the driver deliberately ran over the protesters, and accelerated after a man hit the hood of the car. The windshield was splattered with what appeared to be a milkshake. After the car stopped at the other end of the intersection, the driver switched seats with his female passenger. About 40 people gathered in the intersection and some pulled open the driver’s door.

The woman inside shouted: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” The injured man and woman were taken away in ambulances. Their conditions are not known, but both have non life-threatening injuries. Reports that the one of those struck had died are untrue. Police released the driver.

With officials still under fire for last week’s brutal police repression, law enforcement pulled back for the Nov. 2 mobilization. “It looks like this was a good day for the demonstrators and for the 99 percent movement,” Mayor Jean Quan said. “We will be trying to focus on moving ahead tomorrow for everybody.” But police ominously said they will release photos of some of the 60 to 70 people identified as “determined to cause trouble and instigate a confrontation with police.” Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said: “We are aware of people bent on causing problems, and we’re taking steps to address those problems.” (Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, Nov. 2; Occupy Oakland, Oct. 30)

Video online at BBC News.

See our last post on the struggle in Oakland.

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  1. Rubber bullets in Oakland?
    After a day of largely peaceful protests, riot police fired tear gas and clashed with occupiers who had taken over an abandoned building in downtown Oakland in the early hours of Nov. 3. More than 80 were arrested. As in the violence of Oct. 25, there were allegations—not confirmed by authorities—that police used rubber bullets. Sound grenades were also reportedly used. The Port of Oakland has resumed operations. (Reuters, Bloomberg, CSM, Salon, Bay Citizen, Daily Mail, AFP, Nov. 3)

    In New York, 16 were arrested as the marched in the Goldman Sachs building, following a mock tribunal at the OWS camp of the firm’s crimes, presided over by Cornell West. Protesters arrested earlier in the campaign also went to court. Of 78 arrested while marching near Union Square in September, the majority rejected a deal to have the charges dismissed if they weren’t arrested again in the next six months. Mayor Michael Bloomberg called efforts to self-police Zuccotti Park “despicable” in light of rape charges there. (WSJ, AM-NY, Nov. 3

    The facts of the incident are disputed by the Occupiers. “Bloomberg lied yesterday when he claimed that a sexual assault suspect was merely kicked out of the park, when in fact OWS security personnel forcibly removed the individual and handed him directly to the NYPD,” said Andrew Smith, a member of the OWS overnight Community Watch. “The Mayor should get his facts straight before he calls responsible citizens protecting our community ‘despicable.'” (OWS, Nov. 4)

  2. Another Iraq war vet wounded in Oakland
    A second Iraq War veteran was hospitalized following a confrontation between Occupy Oakland protesters and police. Army veteran Kayvan Sabeghi, 32, is in the intensive care unit of Highland Hospital, recovering from surgery for a ruptured spleen. Sabeghi said he sustained the injury at the hands of police as he was leaving an Occupy Oakland protest early the morning of Nov. 4. (Bay Citizen, Nov. 4)

  3. Fatal shooting near Occupy Oakland camp
    A young man was fatally shot at around 5 PM Nov. 10 outside the 12h St. BART station, within a block of the Occupy Oakland encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza. Protesters are denying the shooting has anything to do with them, while the Oakland police say they are investigating. (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 11)

  4. Eviction threatened in Oakland, cops go Orwellian in Berkeley
    Oakland police have been handing out notices from the City, titled “Demand to cease violations,” to campers at Oscar Grant Plaza. They read: “You must remove all tents, sleeping bags, tarps, cooking facilities and equipment and any other lodging material from the plaza immediately. Your continued use of the plaza for overnight lodging will subject you to arrest.” The Occupiers, of course, pledge to resist. (SF Chronicle, Nov. 11)

    Meanwhile, videos surfaced showing police repeatedly shoving and jabbing screaming students who locked arms to keep officers from dismantling a nascent Occupy encampment at the UC Berkeley campus. “The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence,” UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. “I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.” (SF Chronicle, Nov. 10)

    Uh-huh. Another one to file under “words-mean-whatever-we-say-they-mean“…

    1. Lewis Carroll in Berkeley
      ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

      —Through the Looking Glass

  5. The New Yorker disses anti-capitalists (surprise!)
    Hendrik Hertzberg writes for The New Yorker in typically lubricious style:

    If the weather and the cops pare the numbers in the camps, it’s far from unimaginable that ideologues in the mold of the Old New Left—people for whom the problem is “capitalism” per se, as opposed to a political economy rigged to benefit the rich at the expense of the rest—could end up dominant.

    A rather hilariously ironic sentence. What does Hertzberg think capitalism is, if not “a political economy rigged to benefit the rich at the expense of the rest”? Another example of the sophistries that are mandatory to obfuscate the simple truth. We should be so lucky that clear-headed anti-capitalists “end up dominant” in the Occupation movement.

  6. “Israelification” of US police state?
    Max Blumenthal uncovers some nasty coordination between Israeli and US police forces in the arts of domestic repression—especially regarding the recent repression in East Bay. But casting the problem as Israeli influence over US institutions is racist bunk. See full story at New Jewish Resistance.