Occupy Oakland builds bonfire, trashes Whole Foods, banks, clashes with police overnight
It was not exactly insurrection, but the rowdies gathered in Oakland for a grandiosely-named "general strike" Wednesday, finally got the street action they wanted after nightfall, building a bonfire in a downtown street with flames 15 feet high (pictures here), requiring police action to prevent damage and injury to property and buildings nearby. When missiles were thrown at police and hit some, the police moved in with tear gas and percussion grenades. At about 1 AM,
on a street adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza, a group of 200 to 300 officers faced off against 150 protesters, many of whom were carrying makeshift shields and taunting officers. At one point, the officers split into two groups. Protesters followed the officers, who ordered them to disperse.
Police then went around a building, surrounded the demonstrators and began firing tear gas.
Lots of "action" for those demonstrators romantically craving their own version of the 1960s antiwar movement.
Earlier, marchers walked from downtown to the nearby Port of Oakland (some of the lest athletic reportedly boarded chartered buses) and succeeded in shutting down that major seaport, costing ship owners money, and potentially endangering the smooth flow of producers goods (such as automotive components) needed for just in time manufacturing operations, not to mention the flow of Chinese goods to Walmart and other retailers stocking up for the Christmas season.
Update: More on the port, from Terence Chea and Lisa Leff of Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
The protests were expected to culminate with a march to the Port of Oakland, where organizers said the goal would be to stop work there for the 7 p.m. shift. Organizers say they want to halt "the flow of capital" at the port.
It is the only West coast port that exports more than it imports, according to port spokesman Issac Kos-Read. About 55 percent of the goods it handles are for export. Much of California's agricultural production flows through to foreign markets, including wines from Napa and Sonoma valleys, fruits and nuts from the Central Valley and rice from farms near Sacramento.
About 70 percent of the port's trade is with Asia. Seventeen percent is domestic and military cargo, 10 percent is European trade. The port imports electronics, apparel and manufacturing equipment, mostly from Asia. The port also handles imported cars and car parts from Asian carmakers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai.
On Wednesday morning, the port was operating as normal and most longshoremen had shown up for work, according to port and union officials.
Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said its members were not being called to strike. The union cannot sanction a strike in support of Occupy Oakland under the terms of its contract, he said.
"The general message is that the ILWU and other unions are supporting the concerns raised by Occupy Oakland and the Occupy movement to speak up for the 99 percent and against the corporate greed that is wrecking America," Merrilees said.
Windows were smashed at a Whole Foods store and a bank, and graffiti were scrawled on ATMs and other commercial properties. A vacant 2 story building formerly occupied by Travelers Aid was taken over. (Is Travelers Aid a symbol of capitalist oppression? Are the demonstrators in favor of stranding distressed travelers?)
At the peak, as many as 7000 people were on the streets as demonstrators, according to the interim Oakland police chief.
The local Bay Area media are bending over backwards in order to find positive things to say about these miscreants. "Mostly peaceful" -- which in my book means that it was it was violent, "the feces quotient is minimal" -- how much feces is acceptable to you?, and the like. This sort of propaganda brings to mind the old joke, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"
Update: Another march on the port is promised today. The weather forecast is for rain to be developing laterr today.