Occupy Oakland has big plans for its general strike Wednesday, hoping to completely shut down the city for the day with anti-capitalist rallies and a march to the Port of Oakland.
Calling for people to “occupy everywhere,” Oakland demonstration organizers are calling for students to walk out of school, employees to leave work, and banks and other corporations to shut down for the day to show the nation’s wealthiest that the people can shut down a major American city.
“The wealth of the 1 percent is produced by the work of the 99 percent,” Occupy Oakland organizer Louise Michel said during a news conference at Broadway and Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland. “The people are awake and don’t want to allow the chokehold capitalism has on our lives anymore.”
The general strike is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., and it would be the first time in 75 years that a mass gathering of labor forces stood together for change. The last general strike in the U.S. was in Oakland in 1946.
Events and political speakers are scheduled throughout the day because the group understands not everyone can leave work, even though Occupy organizers would like that to happen.
Mayor Jean Quan’s office issued a statement Monday saying city offices and services will remain open Wednesday and “we are not urging businesses to close.”
The office said, “This is a fluid situation,” and it’s asking businesses and the public to sign up for alerts by email or wireless devices.
Demonstrators who have built a camp in the Frank Ogawa Plaza are aligned with the growing Occupy movement, which has a presence in hundreds of cities nationwide and began with Occupy Wall Street in New York City in mid-September to protest income disparity in the U.S. and the influence of big business on politics.
Oakland’s camp was established Oct. 10. Last week, violence between police and protesters broke out in downtown after the camp was raided. Police reportedly fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into the crowd of protesters, seriously injuring Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, and dozens were arrested.
The following day, the plaza was reoccupied by protesters and city officials have since said they would let the demonstrators stay.
How things will play out during the general strike remains to be seen, but organizers hope there will be no violence.
“We are the people,” said Boots Riley of the band Street Sweeper Social Club. “Hopefully the police will step aside and let the people express themselves.”
Bay City News contributed to this report.