Occupy Oakland is at the forefront of a grass-roots movement against injustice that is sweeping the country. Oakland’s massive marches and encampments have gained national significance. This chronology of the first month of demonstrations is a record of the amazing accomplishments of this people’s movement for social justice.
Occupy Oakland galvanized thousands of people to march through the city and shut down its major banks. These determined activists then marched several miles to shut down the Port of Oakland, an amazing feat that showed this movement was so bold as to challenge the global reach of transnational corporations.
The 99 Percent came to San Francisco’s financial district to call a halt to bank theft and corporate corruption perpetrated by the One Percent – the big bankers hoarding our nation’s wealth and corporate CEOs receiving enormous bonuses while the poor, unemployed, and homeless suffer in the midst of affluence.
The marchers joined hands on the Golden Gate Bridge, their upraised arms connected by pink ribbons. They faced the ocean, and stood silently mourning victims of U.S. wars. Then each person in the human chain proclaimed, one after another: “These are not our wars. The people demand peace!”
After the police beat an unarmed homeless man to death, a jury awarded $4,575,000 to his five-year-old daughter and father. Police officers kicked him, battered him with a baton and pepper-sprayed him. They kneed his organs and pounded his skull on the concrete, then refused to give him medical care.
Six police officers beat the homeless man to death. He died from brain injuries and broken bones in his head and ribs, and was shocked repeatedly by police tasers on his head and face. As he died, he cried out in pain-filled pleas: “I’m sorry. I can’t breathe. Help, Dad!”
The message of the demonstrators is populist and passionate: “We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.”
Richard Singer, a Tiburon millionaire and owner of slum hotels, was sent to prison for hiring an arsonist to torch his own hotel. Singer told an informant that since there were no fire alarms or fire escapes in the substandard hotel, the arson plot would be easier to carry out.
This towering new mural is a passionate statement from the youth that politicians cannot ignore. It depicts indigenous symbols, the crosses of those who died tragically while trying to cross the border, and a vibrant central image of immigrant youth leading a renewed movement for justice.
Unions have said little, even as their own members were fired in “silent raids” instigated by the Department of Homeland Security, and immigrant workers have been afraid to speak out. Over the last few months, however, a wave of protest is starting to break that silence.
Nearly 4,000 inmates in the Security Housing Units in California’s prisons endure harrowing conditions of extreme isolation for years and even decades in concrete, soundproof cells measuring only six feet by eight feet, leaving only to exercise for about an hour a day in windowless “dog runs.”
Several hundred people attended the first Bay Area Care Congress in San Francisco. In the face of massive federal and state budget cuts, the Care Congress was held to launch a bold new campaign for quality care and support and a dignified quality of life for all Americans, across generations.