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Activist Communique: Occupy Oakland calls a general strike today

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Note: Occupy Toronto is having a march in solidarity with Oakland's general strike on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. Meet at St. James Park (King Street and Jarvis Street) at 4:00 p.m.

The first Occupy demonstration occurred in New York -- Occupy Wall Street -- on September 17, 2011. 

Occupy demonstrations have been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities in the U.S. Other "Occupy" protests modelled after Occupy Wall Street have occurred in over 900 cities worldwide. Occupy Wall Street was originally a Canadian idea, launched by Canadian publishing and culture-jamming group Adbusters who made the first Occupy Wall Street call out on July 13, 2011.

Occupy Canada officially launched across Canada on October 15, 2011, with 34 cities declaring their participation one month after the Occupy Wall Street movement took off in the U.S. -- 21 of these occupations are ongoing.

In recent news of the movement's strength, Occupy Oakland has declared a one-day general strike across the city for Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

While there are numerous issues represented in the Occupy movement in the United States, the general strike call in Oakland was influenced by two events.

The first being a manifestation of public anger and disappointment directed towards the Oakland institutions responsible for policing the Occupy Oakland demonstrations and the Occupy parks (Frank Ogawa Plaza and Snow Park).

This includes the Oakland police department and the mayor. I should note here that at the start of the Oakland Occupy demonstrations, Major Quan was openly hostile towards the Occupy movement. But as time past and stakes were raised on both sides, Mayor Quan was quoted as saying she was "deeply saddened" when she heard the news of Iraqi Marine Veteran, Scott Olsen's serious injury after being shot in the head at close range by a police projectile. "It was not what anyone hoped for. Ultimately, it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened," she added.

Which brings us to the second event that triggered the outpouring of anger that sparked the November 2, 2011 general strike.

Iraq vet and former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen was struck in the head at close range by a police projectile on October 25, 2011, while attending an Occupy Oakland demonstration.

On October 25, 2011, the two Occupy sites in Oakland were dismantled by police early in the morning, though demonstrators tried to reclaim these sites throughout the day. More than hundred people were arrested during the clashes. It was during the evening on October 25, 2011, that Scott Olsen was struck by a police projectile at close ranger. During a rescue attempt by fellow activists, police threw a tear gas canister into the group, temporarily forcing them back from Olsen's body. Bravely, they returned and pulled Olsen from the scene.

Sparked by these incidents -- along with other, ongoing important U.S. Occupy demands -- at the next day's General Assembly, Occupy Oakland activists proposed and agreed to a Wednesday, November 2, 2011, by a vote of 1,484 to 46.

Here is the statement from Occupy Oakland regarding the strike: 

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighbourhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let's show them what is possible.

The general strike call out spread quickly through the city and endorsed by a number of the city's large unions, especially among their rank and file, as well as a student walk-out. While because of contracts that prevented major unions from directly participating in the general strike, union officials speculated that many of their members would take vacation or sick days to participate or get involved in other solidarity actions.

Follow #OccupyOakland for live tweet updates, see this link for the Occupy Oakland live stream or their website at http://www.occupyoakland.org/

Also, Occupy Toronto is having a march in solidarity with Occupy Oakland's general strike. Meet at 4:00 p.m. at St. James Park -- King Street and Jarvis Street.

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