Occupy Protesters Target Port Of Oakland Amid Call For General Strike
OAKLAND (CBS SF)– Occupy Oakland organizers said Monday that they are calling for work stoppages, school walkouts and the closure of banks and corporations during a general strike and mass day of action that’s planned for Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland, which was the center of the city’s last general strike in 1946, Louise Michel said there has been “an overwhelming consensus” by the group’s members to call a general strike.
Michel said the strike goals are “solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement, ending police attacks on our communities and defending Oakland schools and libraries.”
She said the fourth goal is opposing what she described as “an economic system built on imperialism, inequality and corporate power that perpetuates all forms of oppression and the destruction of the environment.”
Tim Simmons of Occupy Oakland said demonstrations will converge at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway at three different times to make the day of action as accessible to as many workers as possible: 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.
Rapper Boots Riley of The Coup and the Street Sweeper Social Club said the 5 p.m. action is a march to the Port to Oakland “to blockade the flow of capital” and to show solidarity with longshore workers in their struggle in Longview, Wash., whom he said are involved in a labor dispute with the grain exporter EGT.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
Riley said, “The entire world is fed up and the strike is a warning shot to the 1 percent whose wealth only exists because it takes it from the 99 percent.”
Riley vowed, “We’re going to shut down the Port” and said “tens of thousands of people” might march on the Port.
Asked what protesters would do if police try to stop them from shutting down the Port, Riley said, “I’m assuming the police won’t stop democracy.”
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Former Oakland high school teacher Javier Armas said he’s upset that Oakland Unified School District officials have decided to close five elementary schools in East Oakland, an action he said will “destabilize the community.”
Armas said, “We will take over the schools and run them ourselves.”
Crystalee Crain, a political science and sociology teacher at De Anza College and the College of Alameda, said she will participate in the general strike because, “I cannot lead by example and still say that capitalism is OK and complacency is acceptable.”
Crain said she will invite her students to join her in the strike.
Joseph Haraburda, the president and chief executive of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, said he’s concerned about Occupy Oakland’s statement on its posters and pamphlets that “all banks and corporations must close down for the day or demonstrators will march on them,” saying he thinks such a comment is a threat.
Haraburda said, “It’s ill-conceived to threaten businesses” and he doesn’t think strike organizers have a coherent message and goal.
“Cool heads need to prevail. If they have issues, bring them forward and get them resolved,” he said.
Haraburda also expressed frustration that the city’s leadership hasn’t clearly said how it will respond to the general strike and day of action, asking, “What’s the city going to do?”
He said, “We need to hear a message from the city.”
The office of Mayor Jean Quan issued a statement late in the day on Monday saying city offices and services will remain open on Wednesday and “we are not urging businesses to close.”
Instead, businesses should “use common sense precautions,” Quan’s office said.
The mayor’s office said, “Keeping peace on our streets and protecting Oakland businesses and residents is our top priority” but didn’t cite any specific actions it will take.
Quan’s office said, “This is a fluid situation” and it’s asking businesses and the public to sign up for alerts by email or wireless devices.
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