By Shawn Gaynor and Rebecca Bowe
Following a rally and march from downtown Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza that may have been more than 2,000 strong, activists with Occupy Oakland tore down a fence that had been erected around Fox Square Park at 19th and Telegraph, the site organizers had announced would be the home of their new encampment, and began setting up tents.
The fence was in place when activists reached the park, and a line of police were positioned nearby. However, activists managed to tear down the fence, and police moved away from the park but were still standing by.
As of 5:45 p.m. Nov. 19, there were more than a dozen tents set up. Music was playing and occupiers were holding a dance party in the park. Shouts of "we need more tents!" could be heard.
The former site of the Occupy Oakland encampment -- Frank Ogawa Plaza, which was renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by occupiers -- has been muddied by sprinklers that are spraying water on the bare ground in frequent intervals. Police removed the encampment in a pre-dawn raid Nov. 14.
Speaking at a 2 p.m. rally, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21 president Dan Coffman said, "The hedge fund managers and the bankers have been getting away with robbery. Where are the Justice Department indictments? The recession will only worsen unless we fight."
ILWU Local 21 is engaged in a struggle against international grain exporter EGT in Longview, Washington. Occupy Oakland voted Nov. 18 to call for a port shutdown along the entire West Coast on Dec. 12.
According to the proposal that was passed unanimously by the Occupy Oakland general assembly last night, "The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US. During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview. Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast."
In terms of the still relatively young and action-packed life of the Occupy movement, Dec. 12 is ages from now. For today, Nov. 19, the question will be whether the activists can hold their ground at the new encampment.