Occupy Oakland

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Protestors at the Occupy Oakland demonstration

The Occupy Cleveland demonstration is a part of the Occupy Movement which began on Sept. 17, 2011 with the original Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City.



Affiliated Organizations

The following organizations have supported or joined with the Occupy Cleveland demonstration:[1]

Support

Individual organizers from:[3]

Legal Support

The National Lawyers Guild is serving as the arrestees' legal team.[4]

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

On Nov. 19, Tanya Dennis of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) spoke at a rally held at the downtown plaza which for over a month had housed the main Occupy Oakland camp. She told how with ACCE's help she fended off a foreclosure attempt earlier this year and won a modification of her mortgage. "So we can stand up to the banks and we can prevail!" she declared to loud applause. Dennis urged rally-goers to join in a Dec. 6 national day of action "where people are going to reoccupy homes that have been foreclosed."[5]

Organized Labor

On Oct. 28, 2011, the following put their names to a statement entitled "Defend Occupy Oakland with the Muscle of Organized Labour:[6]

The statement read:[6]

"Demonstrators in downtown Oakland protesting the bank-driven economic crisis were brutally attacked by police from 18 Bay Area agencies on Tuesday Oct. 25. Mayor Quan, who was supported by ILWU Local 10 in the recent elections, ordered this bloody assault. Cops used potentially lethal weapons to break up the occupation of Frank Ogawa (now renamed Oscar Grant) Plaza just as they did in the port against anti-war protesters in 2003. That police attack was even criticized by the UN Human Rights Commission and ended up costing Oakland over $2 million in civil suits.
Then-Local 10 longshoreman Billy Kepo'o was hit in the hand by a police Oakland teachers march in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, Oct. 26. tear gas canister causing a bloody mess. Now, Iraqi war vet, Scott Olsen, was hit in the head with a police projectile, causing a fracture and putting him in critical condition in Highland Hospital. This is exactly what killed one of the strikers in Seattle in the Big Strike of 1934. That history of police violence against strikers is why our Local 10 Constitution bans cops from membership in our union.
Last year, Local 10 shut down all ports to protest the police killing of young Oscar Grant. This year ILWU has been supporting Occupy Wall Street. Just last Monday the San Francisco Labor Council declared the Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Wall Street "sanctioned union strike lines" offering the protesters an umbrella of union protection.
ILWU is under attack from PMA employers, not just here in the port of Oakland but especially in Longview, Washington. Our jobs and the survival of the ILWU as a fighting union are at stake. We heard the report of our Longview Local 21 brothers at our union meeting last week and we pledged our solidarity, just as we did for other unions under attack, whether in Charleston, South Carolina or Madison, Wisconsin.
At the same time there is an outrage at the bankers and the capitalist crisis which has caused massive hardship on the working class. Occupy Oakland protesters have called for a General Strike on November 2. Whether this actually means real strike action by workers depends in large part on union participation. Local 10 has always been in the lead in the labor movement and all eyes are on us. As a first step, in defending our union and others against economic and political repression, we need to mobilize our members to participate in the rally and occupation November 2 in Oscar Grant Plaza. Shut it down!"

City Officials

On Oct. 26, 2011, Socialist Worker's Alessandro Tinonga reported on the eviction of the protestors:[3]

"At first, city officials expressed support for the demonstration and claimed to sympathize with its grievances. On the first night, one city council member spent the night. Even Democratic Mayor Jean Quan visited the camp and was on the speakers' list for a labor march planned for October 15."

After Occupy Albany protestor Scott Olsen was injured while attempting to trespass on the former Occupation campsite, Mayor Jean Quan apologized to him, an Oct. 26 People's World article reported,[7]

"Unions, their allies, and now Amnesty International have all condemned the use of tear gas as well as the actions of Oakland's mayor, Jean Quan, who initially said the police were justified because protesters threw rocks.
Since then the city administration has switched over to damage control. Quan vistited Olsen in the hospital where she shook his hand and apologized for what happened to him. Quan repeated yesterday her prior comments that Oakland is a "very progressive city" and that it supports the goals of Occupy Wall Street."

Her statement noted that "some members of Occupy Oakland" want to meet with her and the police chief. "We need to have direct communications between city staff and your representatives," she told the protesters.[8]

Speakers

The following have addressed the protestors:

  • Maria Gastelumendi, "owner of an area small business who expressed her wholehearted support for the occupy movement."[5]
  • Dan Coffman, president of ILWU Local 21 in Longview, Wash., "thanked Occupy Oakland for its solidarity with ILWU members' struggle against the corporate-owned EGT Development."[5]
  • Michael Moore, filmmaker - stated "We can expect no less from public officials and even from forces within the police department itself who recognize they are part of the "99 percent"" in reference to the incident when earlier in 2011, police escorted protestors into the state capitol so they could carry out a sit-in.[9]

Participants

Eviction

Oakland Police evicted the demonstrators early in the morning on Oct. 25.

Writing for the CPUSA's newspaper People's World, Marilyn Bechtel commented on the demonstrators' response to the eviction:[11]

"Soon after the eviction, the Alameda Labor Council posted a resolution on its web site, saying it "shares the outrage, frustration and resolve of the protesters, commits to the fight, and goes on record in support of the Occupy Oakland and the entire Occupy Wall Street movement." The resolution further backed protesters' right to peaceful assembly and opposed "any efforts to unreasonably evict protesters based on unsupported claims of public safety." It said the mayor and the City Council "are on the wrong side of history," and called on the city to drop charges against those arrested and restore the occupation. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United issued a similar statement, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network issued a petition calling on the mayor to stop police repression against the protesters...

...Speaking on public radio station KQED Oct. 26, City Council President Pro Tem Ignacio de la Fuente pointed out that Mayor Quan "tried from the beginning to establish a dialogue" with protesters and to allow them to use the plaza during the day, and noted what he called "the infiltration" of people totally opposed to the police."

Josie Camacho, a leader in the Alameda Labor Council, led a protest [the afternoon after the arrests] near police headquarters, condemning the camp's shutdown as "an unprovoked raid on peaceful protesters" and demanding everyone arrested be immediately released.[3]

Vigils for Scott Olsen

Writing for the CPUSA's newspaper People's World on Oct. 28, 2011, John Wojcik wrote of the vigils being held for Scott Olsen who had been injured by a tear gas canister thrown by police,[7]

"While Olsen's condition has improved, last night Occupy vigils were held in cities across the nation, including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, to which Olsen belongs, participated in the vigils…

Occupiers "Re-Take" Plaza

An article by William West and Richard Becker published in Liberation (newspaper of the Party for Socialism and Liberation) described the demonstrator's actions during the last week of October:[12]

"Occupiers retook Oscar Grant Plaza only two days after their camp was destroyed by police. The protesters tore down a fence that the police had erected around the supposedly public space and built a tower from the fence as a monument to their resolve. Within 48 hours of the attack, two dozen tents and two canopies had been restored to the Plaza. The occupiers' first action after retaking their camp was to hold a vigil for Scott Olsen. Having become the subject of negative press over nearly killing Olsen, the Oakland Police Department is so far not interfering with the re-establishment of the camp.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who helped plan the Oct. 25 attack against the encampment, attempted to address the Occupation at its General Assembly but was booed off the stage, with the Occupiers chanting “Go away!” as she attempted to speak."

It is notable that Quan is a former Maoist and a veteran of the student movement of the 1960's. She once "identified" with the defunct Maoist Communist Workers Party.[13]

Nov. 2 "Mass Day of Action"

Occupy Oakland's general assembly decided to stage a "Mass Day of Action" on Nov. 2, 2011, after the dismantling of the camp the week prior. Marilyn Bechtel, writing in the CPUSA's newspaper, People's World wrote of the action,[14]

"While organizers called for a "general strike to shut down Oakland and the 1 percent" they also said they recognized that not all workers would strike, and they welcomed "any form of participation which they feel is appropriate." Actions are slated for early morning, noon and evening, to encourage the greatest participation.
The Alameda Labor Council said its affiliated unions "stand in solidarity with Occupy Oakland and the 99 percent." It is encouraging unions and individual members "to take whatever solidarity actions they deem appropriate to support Occupy Oakland and draw attention to the need for good jobs, ethical banking practices, quality public services and a system where everyone, including the rich and corporations, pays their fair share." The Labor Council is serving dinner to all Day of Action participants starting at 4:30 p.m.
On the evening of Nov. 1, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) is holding a "Swag'n for Justice" concert and rally to press for quality jobs at the upcoming redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base. On Nov. 3, protesters will join the California Nurses Association in a late morning action in San Francisco in solidarity with international protests against the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors during their meeting in Nice, France. The nurses have been staffing the Oakland encampment's first aid facilities.
While pointing out that they are not asking members to strike, Teamsters Local 70 urged them to participate in the day of action during their off hours, wearing their "Teamsters gear." Dwight McElroy, president of SEIU Local 1021's Oakland chapter, said in a statement, "We are also part of the 99 percent. Our jobs have been cut, our people are unemployed, and our community has lost needed services in these hard times."
The Oakland Education Association endorsed the Nov. 2 actions, and is urging members "to participate in a variety of ways," including taking personal leave to join actions, doing informational picketing and holding teach-ins at school sites. The OEA has been funding the porta-potties at the camp site. Among the many community organizations participating is the disability rights organization CUIDO, which will hold a rally and teach-in to protest impending federal and state cuts impacting the disability community, as well as participating via van shuttle in the community picket at the port."

Occupy Oakland West Coast Port Blockade Press Conference, 12/09/11

Following "police repression" of the Occupy Movement across the country as well as the successful blockade of the Port of Oakland during the November 2nd General Strike, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly issued a call to shut down all West Coast Ports on December 12th.

This Monday "Wall Street on the Waterfront" will be confronted with coordinated port blockades in San Diego, LA, Oakland, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, and Houston. The same day, Occupy Anchorage, Occupy Denver, and Occupy Wall Street will be targeting Goldman Sachs and Walmart. Local organizers of the West Coast Port Blockade held a press conference just outside the Port of Oakland at Jack London Square on December 9th to announce the reasoning behind and the plans for the mass demonstrations in Oakland.

Speakers at the press conference were Tim Simmons of Occupy Oakland; Boots Riley of Occupy Oakland, The Coup, and Street Sweeper Social Club; Betty Olson-Jones of the Oakland Education Association; Clarence Thomas of the ILWU and the Million Worker March; Mike King of Occupy Oakland; Jenna Woloshyn of Teamsters Local 70; Kimberly Rojas, Oakland Branch President of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union; Eddie Falcon of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Steve Zeltzer of the Committee to Defend the ILWU; and Bob Mandel of the Oakland Education Association.[15].

Shutdown the port movement

One outgrowth of the Occupy Oakland movement, which tried to shut down the local, but very busy port of Oakland, was an attempt to organizer a wider, West Coast ports shutdown movement. This took place in December, 2011, with varying results, but some success in Oakland where the leftist city government led by old leftist Mayor Jean Quan, basically let the demonstrators do what they wanted despite weak protestations that they were disrupting the rest of the people, the "99%."

Quan was quoted in a CNN story, "Oakland Port reopens after protesters disrupt overnight operations"[16], saying that "They are saying ...they have to get the attention of the ruling class. I think the ruling class is probably laughing and people in this city will be crying this Christmas. It's really got to stop."

Among those identified a being some kind of leader of this movement were the following:

  • Robert McElrath - ILWU president, who said they the union "shares the Occupy movement's concerns about the future of the middle class and corporate abuses" but he urged the movement to stay out of its dispute with the port of Longview, Washington and warned against "outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda."

A more interesting and penetrating look at the "shut down movement" as versus the ILWU's labor disputes was found in the December 8, 2011 article by Lee Sustar in an online article for the Socialist Worker newspaper, of the International Socialist Organization (ISO). Entitled "Organzing for the port shutdown", "Lee Sustar challenges the assertion that the Occupy movement is trying to impose a shutdown of West Coast docs without support from port workers." (http://socialist worker.org/2011/12/08/organizing-for-the-port-shutdown).

Among the leftists and activists from both the Occupy movement and the ILWU who basically support the "shutdown" action were:

  • Scott Olsen - the injured former Marine and leftist icon, who wrote the following to the ILWU: "You do the work--THEY, the global maritime bosses, profit at your expense. Your safety and your jobs are always at stake."
  • Anthony Leviege - an ILWU member for 11 years who is active with Occupy Oakland. Handed out leaflets to dock workers, and "he estimated that about 50 percent of the workers he's talked to expressed some sympathy for the December 12 action."
  • David Villegas - a member of the ILWU Local 13 and former truck driver in the port, also reported a sympathetic reception for the flyers for December 12. "Everyone is wondering if they will stand for something, or fall for nothing", he said.
  • Jack Heyman - a retired member of ILWU Local 10 who is building support for the December 12 action. "Occupy is resonating very deeply within the ranks of labor."
  • Clarence Thomas - "In fact, veteran activists in Local 10, such as Clarence Thomas, have been publicly building support for the community picket line along with Occupy activist."
  • Victor Uno - business manager and financial secretary of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595, who is also a commissioner of the Port of Oakland, presented "a motion to disavow the action."""
  • Jenna Woloshyn - a member of Teamsters Local 70 in Oakland and a driver at UPS, explained that "a statement of opposition to the December 12 action would send the wrong message". She said "The Teamsters are not actively against the shutfown. Local 70 officials spoke against the proposal" but she pointed out that "They (the executive committee" failed to mention that just because they were not endorsing didn't mean they were coming out with positions against the action..."
  • Richard Mead - President, ILWU Local 10, "moved to postpone action on the resolution, effectively defeating it."

others mentioned as being from various "Occupy" movements included:

  • Michael Novick - a retired LA teacher who has been active in the harbor community for years. Associated with Occupy LA.
  • Sarah Knopp - a member of United Teachers of Los Angeles. Affiliated with the Occupy LA and Occupy Long Beach movements, which were functioning together in supporting an organizing effort "of port drivers in the LA-Long Beach ports".
  • Leah Marinkovich- "a striking clerk" mentioned by Knopp as saying "Whatyou guys are doing in the Occupy Movement is helping us to put pressure on our bosses to settle."
  • Ernesto Nevarrez - "a harbor community activist who helped the drivers organize the total shutdown of the ports in 2004 and 2006." He said that port trucker activists are debating whether to carry out a port shutdown in LA and Long Beach on December 12.

SW writer Lee Sustar wrote an interesting observation about the December 12th port shutdown movement and its origins, which is reproduced below.

  • In fact, the idea for a protest on December 12 originated not with Occupy Oakland, but with immigrant rights and labor activists in Los Angeles who support the organizing efforts of port truck drivers in the LA-Long Beach ports.
  • When Occupy Los Angeles labor activists held a meeting November 6 to discuss how to broaden the movement, the idea of an action in the ports was natural. Some 26 drivers at the Toll Group had been fired a few days earlier for their efforts to organize with the Teamsters, and December 12 was a traditional day of protests in Southern California among Mexican immigrants, who commemorate Our Lady of Guadalupe on that date.
  • After discussions with labor activists in the harbor area, the Occupy LA group decided to focus their protests on SSA Marine, a terminal operator owned by Goldman Sachs and known for anti-labor practices towards port truckers and labor worldwide, said Michael Novick, a retired LA teacher who has been active in the harbor community for years.

Sustar ended his article by writing:

  • But by focusing on labor's potential power at the point of production, the December 12 actions point the way forward for the Occupy movement. Everyone who wants to see the revival of a fighting labor movement should support these actions.

Shut Down the Port Movement: Aftermath of Dec. 12-13th Confrontations

The Oakland police did not stop the two day blockade of the port of Oakland by the various merged "Occupy" groups, but the protest cost the city and dock workers over $4 million dollars in lost wages and $2.4 million in police overtime.

Several members of the Oakland City Council, particularly all four of the members of the Rules Committee, backed a measure/resolution that would mandate that the City Administrator Deanna Santana, to "use whatever lawful tools we have... to prevent future shutdowns or disruptions." They blamed Mayor Jean Quan, an old leftist, for failing to do this earlier on with her own powers.[17].

The measure's co-sponsors were Ignacio De La Fuente and Libby Schaaf.

Susan Piper was identified as a spokeswoman for Mayor Quan.

An Occupy Oakland "organizer", Omar Yassin, was quoted as saying "We have a right to manifest and to picket in public. The idea that free speech is too costly for the public won't fly."

Shut Down the Port Movement: Michele Malkin's Analysis

Syndicated columnist (Creators Syndicate) Michele Malkin wrote a piece entitled "Port whine and Big Labor's occu-punks" concerning the "West Coast Port Shutdown" actions by "Occupy" groups and other radical/activist organizations on Dec. 12-13, 2011.[18].

Malkin took the view that some of the Occupy movement's impetus came from the actions of the old, longtime Communist Party-led International Longshoremen & Warehouse Union ILWU in two earlier actions in 2011. The first was a July attack by ILWU members on a private piece of land owned by EGT Development, where a chain link fence was ripped down and a grain deliver by train was blocked, "a clear violation of the 1946 Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime to employ robbery or extortion to impede interstate commerce", according to Malkin.

Another act of violence also took place in Longview, Washington, in September when ILWU "longshoremen stormed the port and took a half-dozen guards hostage. They damaged railroad cars, dumped grain, smashed windows, cut rail brake lines and blocked a train for hours while the ILWU and AFL-CIO cheered them on", wrote Malkin.

She summed up the demands of the ILWU concerning EGT's efforts to operate "a $200 million grain terminal in Longview" that is "a state-of-the-art facility with unprecedented automation features that will speed unloading, increase shipping capacity and bring in tens of millions of dollars in lease and tax payments to the region." Malkin criticized the ILWU, "who have ruled West Coast ports since the 1930s" for "demanding a monopoly on the company's master control system, control over the work hour structure, excessive mandatory breaks and extionist man-hour 'premiums' to bail out the union's underfunded pension."

She also told of how this violence financially hurt other port workers, especially the truck drivers who were supported to deliver and bring in cargo.

[KW: This was one of only a few articles about the Occupy Movement that put its' actions into a labor-management context, which, while regional, was a microcosm of the wider "shut-down" aspects of the American economy as a whole].

Occupy Oakland arrestee faces deportation

One of the Occupy Oakland protesters who was arrested on Nov. 15th, faces deportation back to Mexico, apparently because he deliberately overstayed his student visa (the article implies this but does not explictly say it). Francisco "Pancho" Ramos Stierle, 36, of Oakland was arrested on two misdemeanor charges, refusing to disperse and loitering.

  • "Footage of the early morning police raid shows Stierle being arrested while meditating and refusing to leave Frank Ogawa Plaza. He was one of 32 people arrested during the sweep."

The article, "Occupy Oakland arrestee faces deportation", Demian Bulwa, SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle) staff writer, wrote that: "Stierle describes himself online as a human rights activist who came to the United States about six years ago to study astrophysics at UC Berkeley but dropped out after two years because he opposed nuclear weapons development."[19]

Deaths

Kayode Foster was shot in the head and died outside of the Occupy Oakland site on November 11, 2011.[20][21]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 People's World: Police evict Occupy Oakland, Oct. 25, 2011 (accessed on Oct. 25, 2011)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 People's World: Occupy Oaklanders wake up the town, Oct. 24, 2011 (accessed on Oct. 25, 2011)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Socialist Worker: Police attack Occupy Oakland, Oct. 26, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 21, 2011)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Inter Press Service: Police Tear Down Occupy Oakland; Protesters Say It's Not Over, Oct. 26, 2011 (accessed on Nov. 2, 2011)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 People's World: Occupy movement takes up new challenges, Nov. 22, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 8, 2011)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 International Journal of Socialist Renewal: Graphic eyewitness photo essay: Police attack Occupy Oakland, Oct. 25, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 21, 2011)
  7. 7.0 7.1 People's World: Attacks on protesters backfire as Occupy raises the heat on banks, Oct. 28, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 21, 2011)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 People's World: Occupy Oaklanders vigil for injured vet, Oct. 28, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 21, 2011)
  9. 9.0 9.1 People's World: Occupy movement can win with nonviolence, Oct. 31, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 21, 2011)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Oakland Tribune: Oakland Occupy residents struggle with internal security issues, Oct. 19, 2011 by Scott Johnson (accessed on Dec. 21, 2011)
  11. People's World: Oakland demos spark call for nonviolence & end to repression, Oct. 26, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 13, 2011)
  12. Liberation: Victories in Bay Area Occupy movements, Nov. 1, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 12, 2011)
  13. {http://www.bolshevik.org/statements/ibt_20111030_Occupy%20Oakland-General%20Strike.html, ‘Occupy Oakland’ Calls for General Strike to Protest Cop Attack' IBT Bulletin, november 2011}
  14. People's World: Mass Day of Action gains broad support in Oakland, Nov. 1, 2011 (accessed on Dec. 13, 2011)
  15. [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/09/18702297.php. East Bay Indymedia, Occupy Oakland West Coast Port Blockade Press Conference, 12/09/11: photos by Dave Id, Friday Dec 9th, 2011 11:23 PM]
  16. http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/13/us/occupy-ports/index.html?eref=rss_topstories
  17. "Oakland may turn police loose on Occupy blockades", http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f-/c/a/2011/12/19/MNB51MEFHQ.DTL&type..." (www.SFGate.com), 12/19/2011, by Kevin Fagan, Matthai Kuruvila (Chronicle staff writers), post on www.freerepublic.com the same day
  18. Port white and Big Labor's occu-punks", Washington Examiner, Dec. 16, 2011
  19. [Source: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/15/BAGCI1LVES1.DTL]
  20. San Francisco Chronicle "Occupy Oakland campers defy city demand to leave," November 12, 2011
  21. Oakland North "Oakland man charged with murder in shooting death near former Occupy Oakland encampment," December 2, 2011