Occupy Wall Street is now in its sixth week and has spawned clones in every major city in the US, and in many minor ones, as well as in hundreds of other cities throughout the rest of the world. The ruling class wants rid of it – a constant reminder to working people of the inequities of capitalism and the charade of capitalist ‘democracy’, and a constant reminder to the ruling class of the precariousness of their power. In their desperation to be rid of the movement they have tried ignoring it, dismissing it, patronising it, ridiculing it, sneering at it, condemning it, lying about it, and embracing it, trying to hug it to death. None of this has worked. People have had enough. So the ruling class has resorted to club rule.
In New York, San Francisco, in San Jose, in Nashville, Tennessee, in Rochester, New York, in Austin, Texas, in Portland Oregon, in Denver, Colorado and elsewhere, police have attacked and arrested demonstrators. But the most violent attack of all has come in Oakland, across the Bay from San Francisco. Police attacked a peaceful demonstration by Occupy Oakland with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. ‘Veteran for Peace’ Scott Olsen, who served two tours in Iraq without injury had his skull fractured by a tear gas canister hurled from behind police lines and has brain damage. This would have been outrageous enough anywhere, but Oakland, half black, half white, and birthplace of the Black Panthers, is tired of police brutality. In 1968, 17 year old Panther, Bobby Hutton, was killed by police as he was surrendering after a shoot-out. In 2003, it was uncovered that a posse of cops, the ‘Riders’, had been systematically beating, robbing and framing suspects. An anti-war demonstration was attacked by Oakland police with teargas, rubber bullets and ‘beanie bags’ (cloth bags full of lead shot). A dozen protestors and nine longshoremen(dockworkers) on their way to work were injured. An unarmed 20-year-old, Andrew Moppin-Buckskin was killed on New Year’s Eve 2007 and, a few months later, Mack “Jody” Woodfox. Both were fleeing traffic stops. In September 2007, unarmed 20 year old Gary King Jr. was roughed up, tasered and then shot twice at short range, killing him. Oscar Grant, a young black man, was shot in the back and killed by a police officer as he was restrained, face-down, on the platform of an Oakland subway station in the early hours of New Year’s day, 2009. Numerous demonstrations and riots against police brutality followed throughout 2009 and 2010. In March 2009, following the shooting of two police officers, the Oakland Police killed three more people and seriously injured two others. In 2010, Derrick Jones, a 37-year-old unarmed barber, was shot multiple times, killing him. These are just the most serious incidents. Last year 1,748 complaints were filed against the Oakland Police Department, but few were upheld.
Now Occupy Oakland has called a general strike on November 2nd against police brutality. The aim is to shut down the port and the city in protest. The Alameda Labor Council (the local Trades Council) has endorsed the strike call and all organisations are pulling out all the stops to mobilise support for the strike. Called with just a few days’ notice, the general strike is an ambitious step, but a necessary one, and represents a major step forward for the Occupy movement. Attacked by the state, the demonstrators have turned to the working class for support; confronted with a popular movement under attack, the workers’ organisations are stepping forward to join the struggle. It is not too much to say that the future course of the Occupy movement throughout the United States will be strongly influenced by the outcome of the general strike, which if successful will increase active support for the movement, push the movement into a closer alliance with the working class and energise the working class movement to become more aggressive in opposing the capitalists’ austerity plans. Oakland is the location where the last general strike was held in the United States in 1946 and it is fitting that it should be the first to launch a general strike this century.
End Police Brutality!
All out November 2nd!