Home US & World News NEWS: Thousands in 'largely peaceful' march as 'general strike' shuts down Port of Oakland

NEWS: Thousands in 'largely peaceful' march as 'general strike' shuts down Port of Oakland

E-mail Print

Occupy Oakland protesters called for a general strike and took to the streets on Wednesday, "the first event of its kind in Oakland since 1946," the San Jose Mercury News reported.[1]  --  "Protesters . . . effectively shut down maritime operations at the port [of Oakland] . . . as more than 4,500 people arrived at the gates," Kristin J. Bender, Cecily Burt, and Sean Maher said.  --  "Throughout the day, police kept a low profile as the demonstrators took over downtown streets and committed sporadic vandalism," they said.  --  The New York Times reported that "the crowd at the port was peaceful."[2]  --  USA Today, however, which is owned by the Gannett Company, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, painted a lurid scene:  "A group of about 300 protesters, many of them men wearing black, some covering their faces with bandanas and some carrying wooden sticks, smashed windows of a Wells Fargo bank branch."[3]  --  Bloomberg's reporting was measured:  "The protest was 'largely peaceful, with isolated incidents,' according to the police statement.  'Five businesses have been vandalized, mostly banks, and Whole Foods.'  No arrests were made.  One person was hurt by a rock thrown through a window, police said."[4]  --  Reuters noted that Oakland has been "catapulted to the forefront of the national anti-Wall Street protest movement after a former Marine was badly wounded during a march and rally last week."[5] ...


1.

PORT PROTESTERS SPLIT INTO GROUPS, SOME HEAD DOWNTOWN

By Kristin J. Bender, Cecily Burt, and Sean Maher

San Jose Mercury News

November 2, 2011

http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_19246904


OAKLAND -- The protesters remain at the Port of Oakland and have split into at least three groups of several hundred each and are controlling the passage of vehicles in and out of the port.

Other protesters are headed back downtown.

Earlier, at least one protester was hit by a car walking from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza to the Port of Oakland.  The victim's condition was not immediately known.

At the port, protesters are peaceful but determined as they beat drums, chant, and mill around at 7th Street and Maritime Road, 7th Street and Middle Harbor Road, and in a third location closer to downtown.

Some who do work with the port supported the strike while others had testy exchanges with the protesters as work crews tried to leave the port for the day.

"To me this is all (baloney)," said Sam, who declined to give his last name, but said he is a hauler for NevCal Trucking out of Reno and picked up a container at PortsAmerica terminal Wednesday afternoon.  When he tried to leave, the exit gate manned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection had closed early because of the impending protest.

"These people are out here trying to make a living.  I get paid per run, I don't get paid by the hour,'' he said.  "My personal opinion?  The 1 percent down here is protesting, the 99 percent is down here working."

At Maritime Street and Middle Harbor Road, another truck driver said he was angered by the dozen people who had occupied the roof of his trailer.  His shift began at 4:00 a.m. and he wanted to get home to San Jose.

"There are some truckers that are probably pretty cool with (the actions of protesters)," said protester Erica Lee.  "I saw some who were stoked.  But some people are probably getting annoyed."

The Pacific Maritime Association requested 200 stevedores to work the night shift at the port, and those workers are making every attempt to get work, said Craig Merriless, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Earlier Wednesday evening, vanloads of officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and unmarked SWAT vans arrived at the police command center at the port.

Protesters had effectively shut down maritime operations at the port, Director Omar Benjamin said, as more than 4,500 people arrived at the gates.

Police have taken a low-key approach to the protesters and no clashes have been reported.  About 50 police officers, many in riot gear and armed with tear-gas canisters, briefly formed a line at Maritime and Bataan roads shortly after marchers arrived, but quickly backed off.

The crowd of more than 4,500 arrived at the Port shortly after 5:00 p.m. and stretched several blocks down Middle Harbor Road leading into the port as they begin their attempt to shut down the port for start of the 7:00 p.m. night shift.

Benjamin pledged that normal port operations would resume when "it's safe and secure to do so."

"We ask that everyone remain calm, respectful, and safe.  Specifically, we ask that demonstrators allow port workers safe passage home.  Please allow our fellow 99 percent to get home safe to their families."

Starting at 4:00 p.m., two massive groups walked the mile from 14th Street and Broadway.  The crowd fanned out for a least a mile, climbed on trucks, and chanted.  "Whose city is it?  Our city!"  Police cars were parked on side streets but kept a low profile.  No injuries or arrests have been reported.

The action is part of the general strike called by Occupy Oakland, which intended to shut down the city for the day in a rally cry against corporate greed, widespread unemployment and wage inequality.  The general strike is the first event of its kind in Oakland since 1946.

The worldwide Occupy movement decries the economic wealth of the very rich 1 percent while the remaining 99 percent of the population struggles in the down economy.

Oakland has called for extra officers from other jurisdictions for help dealing with the Occupy general strike, signaling possible concern from officials about what direction the mostly peaceful protest will take.

San Mateo County Sheriff's Lt. Ray Lunny confirmed that Alameda County has called for mutual aid from San Mateo County.  Oakland police Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said Tuesday the city would deal with the strike with its own officers, though he has said mutual was available if needed.  San Mateo County officers were instructed to bring gas masks and riot gear.

"We're facilitating roughly 5,000 people moving freely around Oakland," said Jordan.  "So it's possible some (other police) calls will not be handled immediately.  In a perfect world we'd have 5,000 cops here too."

Meanwhile, at Whole Foods at 27th and Bay Streets, a splinter group wearing all-black and face masks threw paint balls, left graffiti, tore up a fence, and broke a window before the larger crowd turned on them and forced them to stop.  There were about 75 people inside the store at the time.  No injuries were reported.

Of the crowd of thousands peppered around Oakland, Jordan said a small group of 60 or 70 people now identified as anarchists were responsible for the vandalism.

"We are aware of people bent on causing problems, and we're taking steps to address those problems," Jordan said.

A man who witnessed the attack on Whole Foods, but declined to give his name, said he was buying an organic orange when the vandalism started.

"I heard a thud as I walked out, and I looked and saw this whole parade of people walking toward the store," the man said.  "Most of them were holding signs, walking peacefully, but about three people ran out and kicked down the gate, so I turned to run away."

Joan Bechtel, of Pittsburg, said she and her friend were inside when the vandalism started and were held inside the store for 45 minutes.

"People were scared at first, and there was a lot of tension there for quite a while," Bechtel said.  "We heard they were coming back and the employees said they had to close the store, and they let us out."

Oakland City Council President Larry Reid took was not pleased with the destruction.

"Look at Whole Foods.  Look at Bank of America and the Kaiser Center.  Look at Chase Bank.  It's not even dark yet."  Asked if he thinks the city can control the vandalism, Reid sighed, and said simply, "No."

Occupy Oakland demonstrators turned their ire on big banks, the Port of Oakland, and corporations Wednesday by marching, blocking traffic, and chanting -- and in some cases, defacing ATMs and breaking windows -- at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase Bank branches around downtown Oakland.

At Bank of America, some protesters pounded on the locked doors, defaced ATMs, and broke a window before moving down the street to Wells Fargo.

Several windows were also broken at the Wells Fargo at 12th and Broadway by a splinter group as the majority of demonstrators urged them to stop.

Some bank branches were closed all day, including the Wells and Citibank outlets near Oakland City Center.

At least 200 city workers took Wednesday off, about 5 percent of the city's entire workforce.  Other city and port workers were sent home early as the crowd of demonstrators swelled to about 5,000 strong downtown.

Throughout the day, police kept a low profile as the demonstrators took over downtown streets and committed sporadic vandalism.  For much of the afternoon the large crowd split off into separate marches, with some staying at the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and participating in teach-ins and sit-ins, and others marching and protesting at various banks located near the Kaiser Center at 20th and Webster streets.

There was also festive parts of the Wednesday strike.

A crowd of more than 300 parents with babies, toddlers, and children of all ages marched from the main branch of the Oakland Public Library to 13th and Broadway as part of a "Children's Brigade."  Children led the march and chanted "Who are the 99?  We are the 99!" while parents with wagons, strollers, and infants in carriers marched behind them, toting snacks, crayons, chalk, and bubbles.

"I'm only 6.  I can't afford a lobbyist" read one sign.

Chris Specker, a Temescal resident who owns the "It's Your Move" game store on Telegraph Avenue, attended the march with her 5-year-old daughter Sarah, who is in kindergarten at Oakland Unified's Peralta Elementary.  Specker said she was one of several Peralta parents who signed her daughter out of school at lunch time Wednesday.

"The concept is easy:  everyone needs to share," said Specker, a single mom.  "I closed my store to support the strike, and I want my daughter to learn that activism is important."

Specker said she hoped that Oakland residents will support local businesses, and she planned to eat dinner with friends at a downtown restaurant before heading home.

Students and teachers from Berkeley and Laney College also marched downtown to join the strike after first stopping to serve a symbolic "eviction notice" at Oakland Unified School District headquarters.

Joel Velasquez, a parent of two children at Westlake school, said school board members are "on notice that they will be evicted from office in the next election for doing the dirty work of the 1 percent."

"They are part of institutional problems that cause hardship on low-income children," Velasquez said.

Several businesses, including Tullys, the Men's Wearhouse, and the Grand Lake Theater, closed to support the general strike to protest the inequality of wealth and power.

The U.C. Office of the President decided to have its more than 800 employees work from home today over concerns that BART might be shut down at some point.  About 1,300 people affiliated with UC work in the building, and all stayed away.

Sam K., owner of Jimmy's Deli said he decided to keep his delicatessen on Broadway closed all day.

"What can you do?  We have to close," said Sam, who asked that his last name not be used.  "Our regular customers don't want to come down here while this is going on," he said, gesturing to the demonstrators who had filled Broadway.

"It's getting to be too much to run a business in Oakland," Sam said.

Oaklandish, a T-shirt and accessories retailer, kept its doors closed.

"We wanted to show our solidarity with Occupy Oakland," said Angela Tsay, owner of Oaklandish.  Her store opened in July on Broadway.

Oaklandish decided to print free T-shirts that said "Working for Oakland 99 percent."  Tsay also arranged for a disc jockey to play music in front of the shuttered store.

Tsay said she paid her dozen employees for the day, despite the store being closed.

The general strike was planned after the city raided the Occupy Oakland camp in the early morning hours on Oct. 25.  Quan has since allowed the Occupy movement to rebuild the camp at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and about 100 tents have since popped up.

That night police fired tear gas and less than lethal projectiles at about 1,000 protesters who gathered downtown and blocked streets.

Several people were hit, and 24-year-old former Marine Scott Olsen of Daly City suffered a skull fracture when he fell to the ground after being hit with some type of object.

City leaders and police are hoping for a different outcome when Wednesday comes to a close.

"I want to reinforce what we need to ensure public safety in the streets: we need no fires, no vandalism, no throwing bottles or rocks or human waste at police officers," said City Administrator Deanna Santana.

"The world is watching Oakland tonight and we need to make this a safe place for everyone."

Check back for updates.

Staff writers Matt O'Brien, George Avalos, Thomas Peele, Josh Richman, Robert Salonga, Hannah Dreier, Katy Murphy, and Scott C. Johnson contributed to this story. Contact Cecily Burt at 510 208-6441. Follow her on Twitter.com/csburt.

2.

OAKLAND'S PORT SHUTS DOWN AS PROTESTERS MARCH ON WATERFRONT

By Malia Wollan

New York Times

November 2, 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/us/occupy-oakland-protesters-set-sights-on-closing-port.html

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters expanded their anti-Wall Street demonstrations on Wednesday, marching through downtown, picketing banks, and swarming the port.  By early evening, port authorities said maritime operations there were effectively shut down.

“Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so,” port officials said in a statement, asking marchers to “allow your fellow 99% to get home safe to their families.”

Despite the disruption of work, the crowd at the port was peaceful.

Protesters had called for a citywide general strike on Wednesday, and asked other demonstrators in cities across the country to do the same, after violent clashes with the police here last week that included tear gas barrages and injuries involving both police officers and protesters.

While the city was not shut down by the protest, many businesses chose to remain closed Wednesday.  Some that stayed open posted signs declaring their support for the marchers.

Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, a supporter of the movement who had nevertheless come under fire from the protesters after last week’s confrontations, had called for a minimal police presence on Wednesday.  The police did keep a very low profile throughout the afternoon as the crowd grew and as splinter groups of hundreds of protesters broke off from the main body and pushed into surrounding streets.

“We support many of the demands, particularly the focus on foreclosures, fair lending practices and making capital available to low-income communities,” Ms. Quan said at a news conference.

Police officers needed to be on hand, she said, to protect everyone’s free-speech rights in balance with legitimate public safety concerns.

Some of the protesters blocked entrances to branches of Chase and Wells Fargo banks shouting:  “Banks got bailed out.  We got sold out.”

For more than a week, protesters had circulated strike posters and leaflets throughout the city reading “No Work.  No school.  Occupy Everywhere” and “Liberate Oakland and shut down the 1 Percent.”

Protesters in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia also marched on Wednesday, some expressing solidarity with Oakland’s event.

The protesters here marched late Wednesday afternoon to Oakland’s waterfront, home to the fifth-busiest shipping port in the country, to try to shut it down.  Rumors circulated through the crowd earlier in the day that port workers had failed to show up for their morning shifts, but port officials said that was not the case and that all seven maritime terminals were operating during the day.

About 40 port workers out of 325 did not report for work on Wednesday, said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which did not authorize a strike.

But by early evening, Mr. Merrilees said, the port was shut down.

“Nothing is coming in or out of here right now" he said.

He said workers were en route for the 7:00 p.m. shift, but he “highly doubts” they would be able to get through protesters.

The port has been closed for several hours in the past during similar mass protests, he said.

City offices remained open on Wednesday, though city officials reported that 5 percent of workers were absent and believed to be participating in the strike.  About 300 of the Oakland Unified School District’s 2,000 teachers also took the day off and schools reported small increases in student absences, according to district officials.

The marquee of the Grand Lake theater replaced movie titles with a statement reading:  “We proudly support the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Closed Wed. to support the strike.”

Ms. Quan, meanwhile, urged protesters to patronize and not penalize the downtown businesses that remained open.  The mood at the protest remained jovial throughout the day as ice cream vendors, pushing their carts, joined the marchers, though some graffiti appeared on the walls of banks and there were reports of several broken windows at banks and other businesses.

Police officials said no arrests had been made as of Wednesday afternoon.

In addition to the city residents who took part in the protest, people drove in from across the state to participate.

Lenore McAllister, 30, arrived from Danville, about 22 miles east, with her three children, ages 4, 3 and 1. Her 4-year-old daughter held a sign that read, “Toddlers are the 99 percent and even we share.”

Her children thought they were at a parade, Ms. McAllister said.  “I support the Occupy Oakland movement,” she added.  “I’m here to teach my children to share by teaching the banks to share.”

3.

OCCUPY PROTESTS RATCHETED UP, TRY TO SHUT DOWN OAKLAND PORT

By Elizabeth Weise

USA Today

November 2, 2011

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-11-02/occupy-wall-street-veterans/51046142/1


OAKLAND -- Protesters blocked streets near City Hall, smashed windows at a bank, and gathered by the thousands in an attempt to shut down the nation's fifth-busiest port Wednesday.

The Occupy Oakland protest was the largest in a series of rallies in several cities as the Occupy Wall Street movement that began Sept. 17 tried to grab national attention.

A group of about 300 protesters, many of them men wearing black, some covering their faces with bandanas and some carrying wooden sticks, smashed windows of a Wells Fargo bank branch while chanting "Banks got bailed out. We got sold out."

The protesters spray-painted an expletive on the exterior wall of the bank and blocked the front door of a branch of Citibank, forcing customers to use a rear door.

"We want to see justice for the criminals on Wall Street," said Caroline Pincus, 53, of San Francisco.

Protesters and city officials said beforehand that they believed the activities would be peaceful, despite lingering anger from last week's injury of an Iraq War veteran in a clash between demonstrators and police.

Mayor Jean Quan, a Democrat who has been criticized for her handling of the protests, said she supports the goals of the movement, which began in New York City six weeks ago and has spread to dozens of other cities.

Protesters say 1% of the population controls a disproportionate amount of the nation's wealth and power.

"It's pretty impossible to change things when our elected representatives are beholden to the people that pay for the campaigns that get them elected," said Susan Tate, 63, a retiree from Oakland.

In New York City, about 30 military veterans who called themselves "part of the 99%" marched to the park encampment where the Occupy Wall Street movement began.  They chanted slogans such as "Corporate profits on the rise/soldiers have to bleed and die" and held signs, including one that read, "Never leave a man behind/I stand with Scott Olsen."

Olsen's skull was fractured when he was hit by a projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest last week.  The 24-year-old former Marine is hospitalized and expected to recover.

George Weber of New York City, a Navy Vietnam War veteran, said the vets -- many of whom who wore parts of their service uniforms -- were "here to support Occupy Wall Street and demand accountability from our financial institutions.  You can say this won't do any good, but where would we be if the Founding Fathers took that attitude? . . . We took an oath to support the Constitution.  That's what we're doing."

The veterans marched past the New York Stock Exchange, stopped for a moment of silence for Olsen outside Trinity Church on Wall Street, and arrived at the park, where Occupy Wall Streeters cheered their arrival.

T.J. Buonomo of Washington, an Army veteran who served 14 months on active duty in 2006-07, said he had to smile when he heard someone in the encampment yell, "Hey, police!  The military's here, and they're on our side!"

There was little friction with the police.  Although mounted officers briefly confronted the marchers outside the Stock Exchange, an area that has been off limits to Occupy demonstrators, they allowed the protesters to pass.

In Philadelphia, dozens of protesters converged on the downtown headquarters of cable giant Comcast.  Some sat down in the lobby; others demonstrated on the sidewalk.

Interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said police planned "to redirect traffic around the areas so we have the minimal interruption on businesses or people commuting into the area."

Oakland city officials said about 5% of city employees appeared to have stayed home from work.  Many took leave or furlough days to do so.

Several dozen members of the longshoremen's union at the port did not show up for work Wednesday, out of a workforce of 300, said Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The workers cannot sanction a strike in support of Occupy Oakland under the terms of the union's contract, Merrilees said.

Port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur said that while the port "supports everyone's right of speech, we do plan to operate the seaport."

City and police officials seemed confused about the appropriate response. In an open letter to residents, the Oakland Police Officers' Association said officers were confused by what the letter said were mixed messages from the city.

The letter noted that on Oct. 25, Mayor Quan ordered police to clear the encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza, where Occupy Oakland protesters have camped out since Oct. 11.

That early-morning episode turned violent, resulting in arrests and provoking more marches.

"We performed the job that the mayor's administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence, and destruction of property," the association wrote.

--Contributing: Rick Hampson in New York City


4.

THOUSANDS MARCH IN OAKLAND SHUTTING DOWN FIFTH BUSIEST U.S. PORT

By Christopher Palmeri and Alison Vekshin

Bloomberg
November 3, 2011 (posted Nov. 2)

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-03/thousands-march-in-oakland-shutting-down-fifth-busiest-u-s-port.html

Protesters from the Occupy Oakland movement flooded the California city’s port, the fifth-busiest container-handler in the U.S., shutting it down in a show of strength.

About 4,500 people assembled in a downtown plaza yesterday, according to a police estimate, before thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets, chanting and carrying signs.

“Operations are effectively shut down in the maritime area of the Port of Oakland,” according to a port statement late yesterday.  “Operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so.”

Occupy Oakland, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York Sept. 17 and spread to other cities, had called for a general strike.  The demonstrations prompted hundreds of downtown workers to stay home or leave their jobs early.

The protest was “largely peaceful, with isolated incidents,” according to the police statement.  “Five businesses have been vandalized, mostly banks, and Whole Foods.”  No arrests were made.  One person was hurt by a rock thrown through a window, police said.

Few police officers were on hand, in contrast to an Oct. 25 confrontation when authorities lobbed tear gas at protesters as they dismantled an encampment and made more than 100 arrests, according to the *Oakland Tribune*.

The protesters at the port disrupted the night shift, spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur said by e-mail, without providing specifics.  “Some of the terminals that were expecting ship operations have not been able to do so,” she said.

BLOCKING TRAFFIC


As the crowd in the downtown Frank Ogawa Plaza assembled yesterday, it blocked traffic in all directions and forced the rerouting of buses, according to a media advisory from the city.

“I’m still in a huge amount of educational debt and I’m here to stand up against that,” said Lily Sturgis, 28, of Oakland, one of the protesters.  “I have law school debt over $200,000 and I work at a non-profit.  I will never pay that off.  I’d like to see job creation and a little equality when it comes to taxation.”

Municipal employees were told to go home about 3:15 p.m. to reduce congestion for downtown commuters.  Office staffers at the Port of Oakland also left early.

“I want to thank all of those who have worked to prevent vandalism,” Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement yesterday.  “Right now, we’re focusing on finishing the day peacefully and we are doing everything we can do to maintain safety.”

UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES


More than 1,200 employees of the University of California’s Office of the President were told to work from home.

“The main concerns involved commute issues: arriving and leaving the building,” said Peter King, a spokesman for the university system, in an e-mail.

About 300 of the city’s 2,000 teachers asked for yesterday off or called in sick, according to Troy Flint, a spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District.  Schools summoned substitutes, drew workers from other departments and in a small number of cases consolidated classes to make up for the missing teachers.

Maria Lepe, 26, an algebra teacher at an Oakland middle school who lives in San Francisco, said she was demonstrating for “more support for teachers” and smaller class sizes.

“I did not expect thousands and thousands of people,” Lepe said in an interview.  “The crowd keeps growing.  I’m glad the word has gotten out.  We’re all in this together to get our voice out.”

Susan George, 56, a holistic health practitioner who lives in West Oakland, carried a sign that read, “The people are too big to fail.”  She said she was taking part in the demonstrations to show solidarity with the movement.  George said she and another person bought a duplex that’s now worth $300,000 less than her mortgage.

“Our politicians have sold out to Wall Street interests,” she said.  “I’ve tried many times to sit down with Chase for a loan modification and they literally would not speak with me.”

--Editors: Pete Young, Paul Tighe

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Alison Vekshin in Oakland, California at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


5.

PROTESTERS RALLY IN OAKLAND, SHUT PORT OPERATIONS

By Dan Levine and Noel Randewich

Reuters
November 2, 2011

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/03/us-usa-protests-oakland-idUSTRE7A06KH20111103
(includes 1:09 videoclip]

Demonstrators on Wednesday shut down operations at the Port of Oakland, one of the largest container ports in the United States, in protests against economic inequality and corporate greed.

Thousands of protesters blocked a major Oakland streets in what they called a general strike against economic conditions and police brutality, but fell short of their stated aim of paralyzing the Northern California city.

Business in Oakland appeared to be largely normal, with most stores and businesses remaining open and workers going to their jobs.  The Occupy Oakland movement did succeed in shutting down the container port, which handles some $39 billion (24 billion pounds) a year in imports and exports.

"At this time, maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland.  Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so," the port said in a written statement to Reuters.

Protesters gathered at the port gates, stood on top of container trucks stranded in the street and climbed scaffolding as a band played Led Zeppelin's song "Whole Lotta Love" amplified by speakers.

Oakland was catapulted to the forefront of the national anti-Wall Street protest movement after a former Marine was badly wounded during a march and rally last week.

The protesters, who complain about a financial system they believe mainly benefits corporations and the wealthy, had aimed to disrupt Oakland commerce on Wednesday, with a special focus on banks and other symbols of corporate America.

"A lot of the small businesses actually have closed," organizer Cat Brooks said of the strike's effectiveness.  "A lot of the food places and other things, we appreciate them staying open (to feed protesters)."

UNIONS NOT IN PROTEST


Local labor leaders, while generally sympathetic to the protesters, said their contracts prohibited them from proclaiming an official strike.

Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said about 40 out of 325 unionized port workers had stayed off the job.

"There was no call for a strike by the union," he said.

Oakland schools and government offices remained open.

The focal point for the demonstration on Wednesday, which drew an estimated 1,000 people, was the intersection where ex-Marine Scott Olsen suffered a serious head injury last week when marchers clashed with police, an incident that galvanized protesters across the country.

Protest organizers say Olsen, 24, an Iraq veteran who was struck by a tear gas canister fired by police, is in an Oakland hospital in fair condition.  Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has opened an investigation into the incident but has not said how he believes Olsen was wounded.

"We stand in defense of Scott Olsen and in memory of Oscar Grant," Angela Davis, a radical leader prominent in the 1960s and '70s, said at a rally on Wednesday. Grant was shot dead by a policeman on an Oakland train platform in 2009.

In Los Angeles, several hundred protesters marched through downtown in solidarity with their counterparts in Oakland.

In downtown Seattle, about 300 rain-soaked protesters blocked the street outside the Sheraton hotel where Jamie Dimon, CEO of the biggest U.S. bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co , was to speak.

Earlier in the day, five protesters were arrested for trespassing after chaining themselves to fixtures inside a Chase bank branch, the Seattle Police Department said.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Wall Street protesters he would take action if circumstances warranted, saying the encampments and demonstrations were "really hurting small businesses and families."

More than 800 people have been arrested at anti-Wall Street rallies in New York City since protests began in September.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Mary Slosson, Emmett Berg, Matthew Ward and Bill Rigby; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton, Cynthia Johnston and Anthony Boadle)

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2011 04:44  

Upcoming

2014 PEACE PICNIC! -- Sun., Aug. 31, 2pm-dusk @ Gig Harbor viewpoint on 5 Mile Drive in Point Defiance Park. -- Potluck; UFPPC provides charcoal fire, hot dogs, & hamburgers (meat or veg). -- Games (bring some!), Peaceful Pie Contest w/ ribbons to winners. -- Free door prizes and raffle tickets sold for prizes. -- See you there!

Search