Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mother Lode Residents Attend Occupy Oakland General Strike

By Alan Willard

The whole world was definitely watching.  The Oakland mayor, cops, talking heads and general population found out just how much.  When the Occupy community in Oakland withstood the onslaught and then REBUILT, it was a true wakeup call to the 1%,  just how much the world cared. 

Thousands of people came in solidarity to show Oakland Occupy they didn’t stand alone.  Our foothill contingent came armed with bicycles, music, signs, and cameras but we did not know what to expect. 

Would the police redouble their efforts to crush Occupy Oakland?  Would the people of the 99% in California respond to this outrage with violence?
This was not the case.  I saw no uniformed police all day.  It was an atmosphere of re-birth.  It was neat, tidy, organized and peaceful.  There was art, children, people of every color, food, gardens, and a determination to follow through with this movement until this alternative community is taken seriously and voices are heard.  When the chokehold on our economy and our government by the 1% is broken, then, these Occupy community members will disperse like dandelion seeds, bringing a needed breath of fresh air back to their communities of origin. 
Those of us from the foothill towns that were able to make this journey on our big ol’ school bus found downtown Oakland a bit quiet, it was a subdued, almost deserted.  No hustle bustle like one might expect in the middle of a large city, late morning, midweek.  We caught a glimpse of activity in Frank Ogawa Park, which is right in front of City Hall, the site of Occupy Oakland.  Parking only two blocks away, it only took us a few minutes to begin understanding the scope of the situation. 
Media satellite trucks were one indication.  Sound systems, this was new.  In Sacramento and other Occupy locations, the human megaphone was synonymous with the 99%.  Amplified sound system regulation and restrictions prevented the people from communicating to large crowds without innovative solutions. 
Not so at this park, at least not today.  A couple of large systems were up and running, and not only in Frank Ogawa but now Oscar Grant Park. It was a very full park and in addition, the surrounding streets were full and blocked off.  KPFA was there with a semi-permanent booth.  Other groups were represented; like the Black Panthers, IWW, SEIU, and a plethora of other groups presenting material in their own booths.
The little tent town of Oscar Grant had walkways, childcare, a doctor’s office, a store, gardens; a real sense of “here for the long haul”.  There were speeches, signs, and banners. 
Oscar Grant Plaza tent town

More people arrived and we marched on the banks just a few blocks a way.  All the way chanting, “We are the 99%”.  Banners were hung from light poles, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” 
Chase, Wells Fargo, B of A, City Bank - all of them, as organizations, are guilty of criminal acts from the bundling of credit default swaps to illegal foreclosures.  It is possible we will never know the full extent of their betrayal. 
The people were responding and it must have been a bit disconcerting to see thousands of people surrounding those edifices, people who knew what the chosen organization had done.  So, it was in Oakland on November 2, 2011 and it was the same for hundreds of cities across the country and world. 

The midday marchers returned to Oscar Grant.  The midday turned to afternoon.  Music, words and conversations with people from all over California were taking place throughout the park.  There were thousands of people and unlike the big anti-war protests before Iraq this was a much broader coalition of people with a very wide stretch of issues.  This movement is what we need to bring about a reordering of priorities. 

The BIG march was about to happen; going to the port of Oakland with the purpose of shutting it down.  I caught it at the shift change with 10,000 (a conservative police estimate) marchers.  This was the response to the all out war declared by Oakland police - General Strike in one of the biggest ports in the USA.  The dockworkers were in solidarity, the truckers were in solidarity, unions, students, teachers, unemployed, and yes, the 99% from the Sierras to the sea were in solidarity in the port of Oakland.  And we shut it down!  Night shift sent home...with pay!!

In Solidarity,
Alan Willard

No comments:

Post a Comment