Oakland protesters plan march, mayor apologizes
Calls for a general strike in Oakland by protesters against economic inequality gathered force on Friday as activists voted to march to the city’s busy port next week to disrupt cargo traffic there.
The Oakland demonstrators allied with the so-called Occupy Wall Street movement decided on the port action during a “general assembly” meeting by hundreds of activists gathered at an outdoor plaza near City Hall.
The group already had called for a citywide strike to be held next Wednesday, urging workers and students to stay at home for the day, to protest what they have called “brutal and vicious” treatment of demonstrators by the police and city officials.
But marching to the Port of Oakland, the nation’s fourth busiest container port by volume, raised the prospect of transforming what essentially has been a stationary protest confined to a city square into a large-scale disruption of commerce.
“At 5 p.m. (on Wednesday) the strikers are going to march from downtown Oakland to the Port of Oakland to shut it down,” said Tim Simmons, an Occupy Oakland organizer, after the group voted by acclamation.
Plans for the port march emerged a day after Mayor Jean Quan, booed out of the square by protesters on Thursday night, apologized for a clash between police and protesters this week that badly injured an ex-Marine.
Quan, who has drawn criticism for her handling of tensions caused by the Occupy Oakland protesters, said in a written statement that she had met with ex-Marine Scott Olsen and his parents and was concerned about his recovery.
Olsen, 24, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired on Tuesday by police, protest organizers said. His injury has become a rallying cry for the Occupy protesters nationwide.