8:12 PM: Oakland emergency officials are responding to a report of a vehicle that struck a pedestrian tonight near 11th Street and Broadway, where protesters continue to march.

Further information regarding extent of injuries and what caused the crash was not immediately available.

Thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters continue to demonstrate at the Port of Oakland, effectively shutting down operations at the Port tonight.

Ben Bruso, 23, a direct service provider for developmentally disabled individuals, is one of hundreds blocking the Port’s Gate One, where the demonstration has a party-like feel, complete with a brass band.

Bruso said he is there because he thinks we need to get rid of lobbying in government.
“Our government is being bought by corporations,” said Bruso, a Service Employees International Union member, who came to the march of his own accord.

“The middle class and lower class are being subjugated,” he said.

On the closure of the Port, Bruso said, “Obviously it sends a message to the corporate world that we’re not going to sit by and take it anymore.”

Colin Holtzinger, 24, a mental health counselor, said he’s at the Port because he believes “we need to tax the rich and get rid of the barriers of entry to small businesses.”

Holtzinger also said, “I feel great. This is the largest movement I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

A group of several hundred demonstrators gathered to block entrances to the Port at Maritime and Seventh streets.

“I support the occupy movement and the 99 percent. The priorities of this country need to be re-examined and re-ordered,” said Marti Mogensen, 63, a teacher at Berkeley High School Berkwood Hedge School.

Mogensen was formerly a teacher in the small town of Onalaska, Wis., the town where Scott Olsen, is from–Olsen is a former marine who was injured in last week’s demonstration.

“I think his case is interesting because it’s done a lot to move Occupy Oakland into international attention. I really think it’s tragic,” she said.

She said some of the teachers at Berkeley High School Berkwood
did “teach-ins” today to support the general strike.

On closing the Port tonight, she said, “I think it really shows that people want change and they want to organize and these tactics do work.”

Jessica Hendricks, 27, a chair of the Berkeley chapter of the ACLU, said, “I’m here exercising my freedom of speech and making sure the rest can do so peacefully.”

On closing the Port she said, “I think it shows the strength and power of the people.”
The group at Maritime and Seventh streets has been blocking trucks from entering and exiting the Port all night and the numbers appear to be growing.

Any truck that tries to exit with cargo is forced to turn around, however, drivers who attempt to leave without cargo are allowed to pass.

One big-rig driver who was trapped by the crowd tonight said, “I just wanna go home. Why are they on top of my truck?”

Though there have been rumors of police action, there was minimal police presence by the Port’s gates as of 7:30 p.m.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

6:23 PM: Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said that he believes a small group of anarchists is responsible for vandalism that struck five businesses in Oakland today.

The vandalism occurred at a Whole Foods store and several banks, he said.

Jordan said the police believe about 4,500 people participated in the general strike today. He said most protesters were peaceful but that about 60 to 70 anarchists, who he said “were bent on creating problems,” caused the vandalism.

He said the anarchists dressed distinctively and wore all-black clothing and handkerchiefs.

Jordan said police believe they know who those responsible are, but no one has been arrested so far.

Jordan estimated that about 3,000 protesters are marching on the Port of Oakland tonight.

Some protesters at the Port climbed atop big-rig trucks and began dancing while others hung a banner from scaffolding that read, “This is what democracy looks like.”

Port Executive Director Omar Benjamin said that as a result of the protest, “maritime operations are effectively shut down.”

He said the maritime operations will only resume “when it is safe and secure to do so.”
Benjamin said protesters are blocking truckers at the port from leaving.

Benjamin said “we are asking that everyone remain calm, respectful and safe and ask that port worker be allowed to get home safely.”

5:12 PM: Protesters participating in Occupy Oakland’s daylong general strike have started moving toward the Port of Oakland, which they will attempt to shut down tonight.

The protesters have filled 14th Street and are marching toward the port as more protesters continue to converge on the downtown, which is the meeting spot for a contingent that will begin marching at 5 p.m.

A large purple United Healthcare Workers West bus was waiting at 14th Street and Broadway to take a load of protesters to the port.

No police officers could be seen near Frank Ogawa Plaza.

About 100 children, parents, and teachers arrived at Frank Ogawa Plaza shortly before 5 p.m. after marching from the city’s main library, chanting “We are the 99 percent.”

Environmental activist Annie Leonard, 47, was among them.

“I just get so happy to see this many people standing up for justice,” she said.

“This really feels different because it’s too big to put back in the bottle,” she said.

Leonard said that she had just visited Australia last week and visited some of the Occupy movements going on there. “Everybody asked me about Oakland. It was all over the news,” she said.

During the protests earlier in the day, a festive mood prevailed among most participants in downtown Oakland as several thousand people joined the day of action, which espouses a wide variety of causes.

The cheerfulness was contrasted by vandalism later in the day at businesses including several banks and the Whole Foods off of Grand Avenue.

This morning, protesters blocked the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway and adjacent streets in the heart of the city’s downtown, and there were speakers and music from two podiums in the area.

Some people danced in the street and others marched on downtown banks, most of which were closed for the all or part of the day.

Police Chief Howard Jordan said there hadn’t been any arrests as of 12:30 p.m.

A large banner proclaimed “Death to Capitalism, Occupy Everything” and a man carried a sign that read, “Capitalism Is Organized Crime.”

Protesters carried signs with anti-bank slogans as they blocked the entrance of the Citibank branch office at 1333 Broadway, including one that read, “We got tossed out, they got bailed out.”

As of 4:30 p.m., there was spray paint all over the Wells Fargo bank at 12th and Broadway, and the bank’s front windows were smashed.

Some of the graffiti read, “F— the bank,” and “Don’t feed the greed.”

The Wells Fargo and a Comerica Bank branch nearby were closed.

A sign at Comerica stated, “This office is closed due to an emergency” and advised customers to go to other branch offices in Alameda and San Leandro.

A Walgreens drugstore at 14th and Broadway was open part of the morning but was closed in the afternoon. The Rite Aid drugstore on the opposite side of the intersection was closed.

Among the other businesses near 14th Street and Broadway that were closed were the Men’s Wearhouse, Footlocker, Pizza Man, Tully’s Coffee and Broadway Beauty.

But some businesses remained open, including Payless Shoes, Burger King and De Lauer’s newsstand.

Most businesses in the Oakland City Center shopping mall also remained open.

Whole Foods shut down for the day after windows were smashed and paint was thrown on the storefront.

The word “strike” was painted in large letters across the front windows of the store, located at 230 Bay Place off of Grand Avenue, shortly before 3 p.m., an employee at a 7-Eleven across the street said.

Rumors had spread on Facebook and Twitter earlier today that Whole Foods employees would be penalized for participating in today’s protests.

“That’s totally false,” Whole Foods spokeswoman Jennifer Marples said. “Team members were totally supported in going, and were not going to lose their job if they supported the Occupy Oakland protests.”

“All the team members were spoken to and everyone was supported and no one was going to lose their jobs as a result,” Marples said.

She said no one was hurt during the vandalism.

Among the causes espoused by Occupy Oakland protesters in their general strike were stopping banks from foreclosing on homes and directing more money to schools and libraries.

A librarian carried a sign saying, “When librarians are marching, you know something is wrong.”

One man carried a sign saying, “End Oil Subsidies” and another handed out flyers asking that Mumia Abu Jamal, who was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, be freed.

Several socialist and communist groups set up bookstands and distributed leaflets, including the Workers Vanguard, the International Bolshevik Tendency and the Socialist Workers Campaign.

The International Socialist Organization distributed fliers for a Marxism conference that will be held at the University of California at Berkeley campus on Saturday.

Jeff Shuttleworth/ScottMorris, Bay City News

Copyright © 2011 by Bay City News, Inc.–Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse
without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

4:05 PM: Whole Foods in Oakland is shutting down for the day after windows were smashed and paint was thrown on the storefront during protests related to the Occupy Oakland’s general strike today, a Whole Foods spokeswoman said.

The word “strike” was painted in large letters across the front windows of the store, located at 230 Bay Place off of Grand Avenue, shortly before 3 p.m. today, an employee at a 7-Eleven across the street said.

Rumors had spread on Facebook and Twitter earlier today that Whole Foods employees would be penalized for participating in today’s protests.

“That’s totally false,” Whole Foods spokeswoman Jennifer Marples said. “Team members were totally supported in going, and were not going to lose their job if they supported the Occupy Oakland protests.”

“All the team members were spoken to and everyone was supported and no one was going to lose their jobs as a result,” Marples said.

She said no one was hurt during the vandalism, which occurred during one of many marches through the streets of Oakland today.

3:32 PM: Protesters marching toward Oakland’s Lake Merritt today vandalized a Whole Foods store at 230 Bay Place, off of Grand Avenue.

The word “strike” was painted in large letters across the store’s front windows shortly before 3 p.m. today, an employee at a 7-Eleven across the street said.

Rumors had circulated on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere that Whole Foods employees risked termination if they participated in today’s general strike.

Whole Foods Oakland posted a statement on its Facebook page at around 2:30 p.m. denying the rumors.

1:35 PM: Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said this afternoon that the general strike organized by Occupy Oakland has been peaceful so far, and that there have not been any arrests.

Jordan estimated that about 1,000 people were participating in rallies this morning in downtown Oakland, in the area of 14th Street and Broadway.

He said there is a small group of people he thinks is looking to have a confrontation with police. But he said police will try to avoid such confrontations so that they can “prevent a hostile crowd reaction.”

Mayor Jean Quan said this afternoon, “I want to thank the citizens of Oakland and the demonstrators for keeping it peaceful and orderly.”

Port of Oakland Director of External Affairs Isaac Kos-Read said all seven marine terminals at the port are at least partially operational today.

Jordan said it has been estimated that some 5,000 people will march on the port later today and that police will facilitate the march to help the group get to their destination safely.

Some “Occupy Oakland” protesters have vowed to shut down the port tonight, but Kos-Read declined to say what action would be taken to prevent that.

“We’ll deal with that situation if it comes up,” he said.

In an open letter to the community of Oakland issued on Tuesday, port officials stressed that workers at the port are also part of the 99 percent, and that the port is interested in contributing to the civic dialogue initiated by the Occupy Oakland movement.

12:05 PM: One Wells Fargo branch has been shut down because of the general strike in Oakland today.

“We have closed one store today at 14th and Broadway,” Wells Fargo spokeswoman Holly Rockwood said.

That branch, located in the heart of downtown, did not open its doors at all today, she said.

Wells Fargo has nine branches in Oakland and the decision to close the one branch was a result of the proximity of demonstrators to the store, Rockwood said.

“We are deeply committed to the city of Oakland and are one of the top private employers in the city. We contributed to 120 nonprofits in 2010,” Rockwood said.

Occupy Oakland protesters had threatened to march on financial institutions that didn’t close today.

“We are open to discussing issues with Occupy Oakland leaders in the community,” Rockwood said.

11:55 AM: Hundreds of parents, students and teachers are participating in the general strike in Oakland today.

A group of families is expected to meet at noon and again at 3 p.m. today outside the main branch of the Oakland Public Library, said Kevin Christensen, an Oakland parent helping to organize the event.

Christensen, an avid supporter of the Occupy Oakland movement, hopes that the presence of children and families will discourage violence at the general strike. He plans to bring his 3-year-old daughter.

Christensen said he spent 22 hours in jail last week for ‘failure to disperse at the scene of a riot’ after police raided the encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Amanda Cooper, of Oakland, is also among those planning take her children to the protest.

“As a parent, I am concerned about opportunities for my children,” Cooper said. “If we continue to have unemployment levels this high, there’s less chance for young people and children. There’s hopelessness.”

Hundreds of East Bay teachers are also participating in today’s rallies.

Troy Flint, spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District, said Tuesday that 268 teachers have requested leave for today.

Flint said this morning that it appears that even more than that will be absent, but that all schools will remain open.

Many teachers plan to gather at the state building at 4 p.m., said Fred Glass, spokesman for the California Federation of Teachers, which supports the Occupy movement.

“There are cuts to education, and no one but Occupy Oakland is talking about these problems. It severely impacts our ability to deliver education to students,” Glass said.

The California Federation of Teachers supports raising taxes for the wealthy, tighter regulation of banks, reforming home foreclosure rules, and enacting a speculation tax to fund education, Glass said.

“Reinvest in our public infrastructure,” he said. “It’s the 1 percent that has the ability to do that, but have been shifting investments offshore. We don’t have tax money coming in from property, income and corporate taxes like we once had from working Americans.”

The Oakland Education Association endorsed the Occupy Oakland general strike and is urging members to attend the protest and hold teach-ins on the history of general strikes, OEA president Betty Olson-Jones said.

11:21 AM: AC Transit is having to redirect a number of its buses as protesters participating in today’s general strike gather in downtown Oakland, disrupting bus routes.

“AC Transit buses are being completely rerouted around the area to streets that generally run parallel to Broadway,” AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said.

Most buses have been running along Martin Luther King Way to avoid the downtown area since around 9 a.m. Buses are generally not running between 12th and 20th streets in downtown Oakland, he said.

A BART spokeswoman said there are no closures or delays on BART this morning.

10:15 AM: Oakland city officials held a media briefing this morning as a general strike organized by Occupy Oakland got under way.

“We’re looking forward to a day of peaceful protest,” Mayor Jean Quan said.

Quan told reporters at the briefing, held at the city’s Emergency Operations Center, “We’re hoping to give you a boring day.”

City Administrator Deanna Santana said the strike’s impact on the city’s operations has been “low,” and libraries, parks and business centers are open for business today.

Quan said that at this point, fewer than 5 percent of the city’s employees are participating in the strike and the only city service that has been affected is Head Start.

Police Chief Howard Jordan said, “We anticipate the protests will be peaceful and we don’t anticipate the need for enforcement actions.”

Jordan said the department would ask for mutual aid from other law enforcement agencies if it becomes necessary, and that Oakland police “are prepared to protect people and property if the need arises.”

“Occupy Oakland” protesters started blocking traffic at 14th and Broadway, the heart of Oakland’s downtown, shortly before 9 a.m., and there was at least one confrontation between a motorist and a demonstrator.

Jordan said, traffic may be interrupted by the protests and said police might redirect cars “so there are minimal disruptions.”

Yvette Felarca, who is associated with the activist group By Any Means Necessary and is one of those blocking traffic, said protesters are in the intersection because “these streets are our streets.”

Felarca said many motorists are supporting the demonstration and “are giving us a lot of love.”

Photo from Occupy Oakland General Strike: Susie Cagle

Jeff Shuttleworth/Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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