In Oakland, California on October 25th, 2011 an Occupy Wall Street protest turned into a confrontation between the protestors and the Oakland Police. As Marc Ash can tell you in Remember What They Did in Oakland that "no one really saw it coming. We should have."
Civil unrest, civil resistance, a paranoid, uneducated - and far too heavily armed - police force, governmental officials with no experience in managing para-military forces under their control. It was all there, flame lit, waiting to boil over.
Can anyone see it still? It's there, right there in the picture ... look closely. It's an Oakland police officer standing in broad daylight in the middle of an American city leveling a shotgun at American citizens and firing at them as they run for their lives. Think Kent State, think Chicago 1968. This happened. Mark the day, rue the day.
To the credit of the protesters, they provoked but did not engage or reciprocate in the violence. The Oakland Police Department, however, gave the United States an abject lesson in why compromising civil liberties for the sake of national security is a decision that will eventually blow up in your face.
Scott Olsen and Joshua Shepherd were trained - they thought - by the Marine Corps and the Navy, respectively, to defend freedom. Both served overseas until they realized that the real fight for American freedom is, and really has been, here in the land we call home. So they stood side by side facing down freedom's oldest enemies: fear, ignorance and authoritarianism. The police opened fire on them and Scott Olsen fell critically wounded. Not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but here. He is now in an Oakland hospital fighting for his life. He and all of those who were there with him that night in Oakland, and every city in America now occupied by Americans standing up to injustice, need our support.
What are they fighting for?
Like all revolutionary political movements the Occupy Movement is a spontaneous eruption. It was not scripted or planned in advance. It is rather, the stifled voice of the oppressed, silent no more. To understand what they want we must ask, what do we want? And we must listen to what they say, and to what is in our hearts.
The common theme is "justice." Economic justice, earth environmental justice and social justice. Do those goals sound familiar? They should. They have been at the forefront of every political demonstration in history. However, on a slightly more specific note, if you are looking for things to watch for you will probably be hearing more about the abolishment of the Federal Reserve System in the days, weeks and months to come. Perhaps growing demands for legal prosecution of financial industry managers, maybe some - real - healthcare reform, a little solidarity with our fellow citizens of earth who do not want an American military base in their back yard. Stuff like that.
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 neighborhoods, 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.
Change may have been a campaign slogan. Now is is a reality!