Live on the Scene at the Oakland General Strike
by the FourStory Staff
[This post was written by Oakland Occupier and paranormal mystery writer Juliet Blackwell.]
Wednesday’s General Strike, called by OccupyOakland, was the first such strike in Oakland since 1946. And it was a huge success.
By and large, we Oaklanders aren’t strikers—like most Americans, we prefer to sit on our asses and grumble. But this time, thousands of people showed up: in addition to the revolutionaries, there were musicians, jugglers, children, flower garlands, a lot of pot smokers, and a whole contingent of knitters. There were storytimes, consensus-building sessions, and lots of cookies.
We occupied our downtown, big time. And whether or not all of the citizenry agreed with, much less complied with, the strike, we got their attention. It felt a lot like an urban, anti-capitalist barn-raising. And then we marched on the Port of Oakland, the third busiest port in California, and shut that baby down. It was all done through non-violent resistance, Martin Luther King-style.
But Oaklanders tend to be a bit kick-ass, and I wasn’t surprised when I read this headline in the Huffington Post this morning: Peaceful Occupy Protests Degenerate Into Chaos. After an entire day of protest that drew a crowd of three-to-ten thousand (depending on whose estimate you believe), a handful of young men broke a window at Whole Foods grocery store after hearing an untrue rumor that management had threatened any employees who didn’t show up for work. It’s important to note that other protestors, not the police or the store security, intervened to stop the violence.
Much later—after the port shut-down, well after the vast majority of marchers (including me) had tucked themselves into bed—a group of a few hundred, at most, took over an abandoned office building downtown, intent on setting it up as a community center. The OPD moved in with tear gas and flash bombs, as is their wont. People were hurt, on both sides.
But I don’t want people to focus that part. I want them to know that we took an entire day from work, marched arm in arm, played music, shared food and laughs, and remembered what this protest is all about … each other.
photo: Ethan B. Cohan