As OccupySF attracts support, Oakland gets ready for a general strike

Chinatown community members with the Chinese Progressive Association rally as part of the 99 percent movement.

At a rally of some 2,000 activists held in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza Oct. 26 -- the day after a brutal police crackdown left 24-year-old war veteran Scott Olsen in critical condition from a skull fracture inflicted by a police projectile -- Occupy Oakland's general assembly reached a 96 percent consensus agreement to call for a general strike to be held Nov. 2.

"We have the chance to write the next chapter of this worldwide occupation movement," an activist announced before bringing the idea to the table. Then the official proposal was read: "To liberate Oakland and shut down the one percent with a citywide general strike." Cheers arose.

Over the next half hour or so, activists approached the group with clarifying questions. "If the national guard comes, what do we do?" someone asked. (This concern could be addressed at one of the general strike planning meetings, the facilitator answered, if the group approved moving forward with the plan.)

Since that evening, plans for a citywide general strike have gained momentum as the Oakland Education Association and other public sector unions have voiced support for the idea.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan wrote in a Twitter update, "It's my hope that the general strike is peaceful and places the issues of the 99% front and center." In another post, she wrote, "I am working w/ OPD chief to ensure general strikers get message across w/o conflict that marred last week's events."

But the Oakland Police Officers' Association stated in an open letter that police were "confused" by the mayor's actions with regard to Occupy Oakland, and by a memo Quan released to city employees granting permission for all but police to take the day off.

An Occupy Oakland press release announced that tomorrow's demonstrations would converge at three different times: 9 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. at the intersection of 14th and Broadway, near the entrance of the encampment (and the place where Olsen was struck). Activists have renamed the square Oscar Grant Plaza in memory of a 22-year-old police shooting victim.

At 5 p.m., groups planned to converge at 14th and Broadway for a march to the Port of Oakland to shut it down in advance of the 7 p.m. shift.

"This is being done in order to blockade the flow of capital on the day of the general strike, as well as to show solidarity with the Longshore workers in their struggle against EGT in Longview, Washington," said Oakland hip-hop artist and community organizer Boots Riley.

The Guardian will attend the day's events and plans to post updates to Twitter. You can follow city editor Steven T. Jones here, reporter Rebecca Bowe here, and SFBG here.

Meanwhile, momentum surrounding the Occupy movement has remained strong in San Francisco. On Oct. 30, more than 150 residents of Chinatown attended a "We are the 99 Percent" rally at Portsmouth Square oraganized by the Chinese Progressive Association. A group of about 50 marched down Clay Street to Justin Herman Plaza, where the OccupySF encampment continues to grow.

“I used to be a restaurant worker, but because of a work injury, I haven’t been able to work for the past 4 years," a Chinatown community member who identified herself as Mrs. Rong said about her experience in America. "We rely entirely on my husband’s income. My daughter already graduated from college, and although she already found work, she has to pay students loans every month. We don’t know how long we will be paying those loans. We don’t have anything. We are the 99 percent and we have to work together.”

Stephanie Chan, a high school student whose parents are Chinese immigrants, described her experience in San Francisco.  “My dad works for more than 13 hours a day, and my mom works two jobs, but my family is still low-income. I currently have healthcare, but I will lose it once I turn 18. I can't help but wonder, what will happen when it is time for me and my little brother to attend college? How will we afford the high price of college tuition? That’s why people are protesting right now, and why we are the 99 percent.”


There's virtually no business there anyway. A city of 400,000 with virtually no retail, no Fortune 500 companies (OK, there's Clorox but they've been leaving town for a while now) and one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Oh, and then there's the crime . .

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

This is the second time an Oakland hater has come out in response to my coverage of Occupy Oakland, so I feel the need to respond. Quit hating on Oakland. I used to live there and it's a great city.

BTW, I just searched #standwithoakland on Twitter and learned that activists in Chicago, Denver, Boston, New York, Portland, and San Jose have ALL noticed the upcoming Oakland General Strike.

Posted by rebecca on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

Your defense of the city is noble and, I'm sure, well-meaning. But it has largely been abandoned by the middle classes as taxes have risen, deficits has grown, businesses have closed down and of course crime has sky-rocketed.

And I note that you no longer choose to live there. So you're really not walking the talk, are you?

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

The only reason I moved was because of the time it took to commute to SF. It was time consuming to bike and take BART in addition to working 8 - 9 hour days. If it weren't for that, I'd still be there.

Posted by rebecca on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

You'd abandon a "great town" for an extra 8 minutes?

I don't blame anyone for leaving a city with the 6th worst crime rate in the nation. But you should try and leave your personal feelings out of it if and when seeking credibility for a story about Oakland.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

and trains leave every second, it only would have taken 8 minutes to traverse the Bay.

Now that is using your head!

And by the way- it takes longer than 8 minutes:
"It takes 30 minutes or less to reach downtown San Francisco... from Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART Station"

So, yeah, you're full of shit.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

There are trains, buses and ferries. anyone who truly "loves" Oakland could easily commute. The truth is that the place is a failing crime-infested dump, and we have nothing to learn from it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 7:32 am

You are full of shit.
The end.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 7:46 am

I used to live there, too. Great city, beautiful people. All eyes in the Occupy movement are on Oaktown right now.

Oakland, you rock!!!

Posted by Lisa on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

I always found Jerry Brown's comment about refusing to accept the original design of the eastern Bay Bridge replacement because "it makes Oakland look like a second-class city" to be somewhat ironic. Because Oakland, especially compared to San Francisco, IS a second (or third) class city. No one plans a vacation in Oakland, people don't come into Oakland to have dinner or go out for the night. Biotech workers don't endeavor to live in Oakland. Oakland's not a leader on anything, or at least - anything good.

People in Oakland complain about Jean Quan but you know what's funny - you get the political leadership you vote for.

I have noticed a continual exodus into Oakland of lesbians priced out of the Mission - which is a harbinger of good things to come. Queer gentrification is almost always a good thing and bears good tidings for the future.

Posted by guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

what if anything can arrest that. Useless Mayors like Dellums and Quan don't help but, as you say, when the most discriminating voters are alld riven out of town, then you're left with those who can't leave, and a dwindling tax base.

SF has the same problems but has business, tourism, conventions, universities and a world-class presence. Oakland only has a decent port and airport, and the departing pro team sports franchises.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

maybe they could take some time to Lysol the STD's out of their sleeping bags.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 11:50 am