A demonstrator with the Occupy movement holds a sign November 2, 2011 in Oakland, California (Eric Thayer  / Getty Images / AFP)

A demonstrator with the Occupy movement holds a sign November 2, 2011 in Oakland, California (Eric Thayer / Getty Images / AFP)

 

Hundreds of teachers have called-in to work. Shops have locked their doors in solidarity.

Later this evening, today’s events will accumulate with a massive march in the Bay Area this evening.

Oakland has become an unlikely West Coast hub for the Occupy Wall Street movement nearly 50 days after the protests first started in New York City. While other cities across the United States and around the globe have waged Occupy-style demonstrations in the last few weeks, the assault by Oakland police officers on protester and war vet Scott Olsen last week resonated around the world. A non-lethal projectile fired by the Oakland PD left Olsen unable to speak after he suffered a skull fracture while attending last week’s demonstration. While still hospitalized preparing for a serious surgery, marches and protests in solidarity with the injured demonstrator have occurred across the world as protester rally in support of an unlikely icon for the movement. One week later, thousands are expected to show their support for Olsen and the Occupy movement in Oakland today by hosting the first general strike the city has seen in more than half a century.

Angela Davis speaking. Photo by Lucy Kafanov
Angela Davis speaking. Photo by Lucy Kafanov

­At around 9 a.m. this morning in Oakland, protesters held a general assembly in the first of several meetings of today. Activist Angela Davis told a crowd of thousands that “Our unity must be complex . . . It cannot be simplistic and oppressive.” before other organizer leaders took the microphone to offer speeches. 

Recorded October 30, 2011, 5pm. Dr. Angela Davis addresses the satellite Occupy Wall Street general assembly–Occupy Washington Square Park NYC–encouraging the movement to stay united (3:20) by quoting Audre Lorde, “Differences must not be merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic” (4:24).

At the end of the speech, Davis brings news from Occupy Oakland–in regards to the police action, and Scott Olsen –and Oakland’s call for a general strike on November 2, 2011 (6:14). “Decolonize Oakland, We are the 99%, We Stand United, November 2nd, 2011, General Strike, No work, No School, Occupy Everywhere.”

Around an hour later, protesters began a march to a local bank branch in an attempt to shut it down.

At 5 p.m. local time, the day’s events are expected to cumulate with a two-mile march to the Port of Oakland, one of the largest shipping hubs of its kind in the country. The day-shift at the port had already been halted due to the protests and demonstrators are hoping to keep the port shut down into the night as part of the movement.

With the optimism of the protesters merging with the confusion of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s handling of the ongoing movement, not even the demonstrators themselves are sure what today will bring.

Oakland has first general strike in 65 years. Photo by Lucy Kafanov
Oakland has first general strike in 65 years. Photo by Lucy Kafanov

­Yesterday Mayor Quan issued a statement saying, “It is my hope that tomorrow’s general strike is peaceful and places the issues of the 99% front and center. I am working with the police chief to make sure that the pro-99% activists — whose cause I support — will have the freedom to get their message across without the conflict that marred last week’s events.”

Though she offers her support today, a week ago she ordered that the encampments of the protesters in city parks by raided by police. Authorities from 17 different agencies aided in the crack-down, which led to at least one man, Scott Olsen, ending up in critical condition. The Iraqi War veteran has shown remarkable recovery in the days since, but what lies ahead for the Occupy movement still seems uncertain.

To Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Director Paul Junge, Mayor Quan isn’t helping.

An Occupy Oakland protester shows his wounds from the rubber bullets OPD supposedly weren′t using during the recent raid. Photo by Lucy Kafanov
An Occupy Oakland protester shows his wounds from the rubber bullets OPD supposedly weren’t using during the recent raid. Photo by Lucy Kafanov

“Your lack of clarity is putting our shared future in Oakland at risk,”

Junge wrote to the mayor in a letter this week

. “We want to be clear, should Wednesday’s planned protests go awry, someone will need to be held accountable.”

In an open letter from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association issued yesterday, they admit that they aren’t sure what to make of the mayor’s handling either.

“As your police officers, we are confused,” reads the letter. It goes on to note that all city workers, except for police officers, were told they could take November 2 off to participate in the general strike. “That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against ‘the establishment,’” the letter goes on. “But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?”

“It is all very confusing to us,” say the cops.

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