On November 2nd, 2011, the “Occupy Oakland” movement (which grew out of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in NYC) organized a city-wide general strike. The goal was to disrupt banks, corporations and the port of Oakland. By virtue of the numbers of people and their quick mobilization, I’d say they were largely successful.
Oakland has been a unique focal point for the nation, as the persistence shown by the protesters in the face of a large police response has made headlines in the media.
I’m not from Oakland, (or even the bay area), but Downtown Oakland is where I currently live and work, and is the very center of the Occupy Oakland movement. Oakland residents are not strangers to social movements disrupting their city, but for me, the whole scene is fairly surreal. The constant news helicopters, the grafiti/art that’s covering the walls and streets, and the crowds of people are all taking place around the places I work, eat lunch or grab a beer at. An ATM I used on Monday night was taped up by Tuesday afternoon, and the Whole Foods a block away had the words STRIKE written across it’s front windows.
Regardless of what you feel – whether you think you are in the 99% , the 20% or whatever – this is something I feel is worth watching and recording. I see people who are genuinely frustrated and angry with the where their country, state and city is headed, or already is.
Ultimately these are my neighbors; and they want to be heard. They don’t have the luxury of scheduling a press conference, a business luncheon or a commercial.
What they do have are markers, cardboard, wit, twitter and a few wannabe photojournalists like me.