A few posts back, I was afraid that Occupy Oakland was setting itself up to look bad by calling for a General Strike without actually organizing a General Strike. Well, work did carry on in Oakland, but by all accounts, hundreds of people walked off the job that day. And the march was huge and peaceful–the word I keep hearing from participants and the media is “jubilant.” Most amazing, they shut down the fifth-largest port in the country–mostly to the cheers of the affected truckers (I note that this was because that union does have a clause about honoring other picket lines, I believe for 24 hours). I don’t recommend shutting down any port long-term as a strategy, but the show of strength was impressive. On a normal day, almost 90 million dollars passes through that port. You can bet the 1% are paying attention now. They don’t want that to happen to the ports where they move their goods. This is one of those times I’m happy to eat crow.
The vandalism that night was really distressing, but carried out by so few people that the main story was still “Seven thousand people protested peacefully.” At least, that’s what they said on NPR and KQED that night. I wasn’t listening to Fox, nor to Forum, where my colleague Jeremy Nickel called in to correct the focus (that blog entry of his is inspiring, by the way, so do click). I like what someone–might have been Jeremy–said on Facebook: if your actions are indistinguishable from a right-wing agent provocateur’s, stop.
Here on Move Your Money Day, I’ll also note that the 99% Movement (we really have to stop calling ourselves Occupiers–who the heck wants to live under occupation? though I like the twist of occupying your own damn country) can claim credit for the big banks’ dropping their plans to charge $5/month for debit cards. It is not the systemic change we need; they are throwing down a few crumbs, hoping we will stop demanding a fair slice of the pie. But since people have been grumbling about bank fees for years without the banks taking any notice, it’s a measure of the power of this movement that this time, they backed off.