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.