Today, more than two million public sector workers across the United Kingdom are on the picket lines, protesting planned cuts to their pensions and austerity measures. The strike includes transport workers, teachers, health workers and other government employees. Protests and occupations are taking place in cities across the country, which have closed the majority of schools and impacted health and transport services. This is being hailed as the largest strike for many sectors in more than thirty years.
We express solidarity with the workers of the United Kingdom. Anywhere the interests of the few are crushing the hard-work of the many, our struggle is the same, and we stand united calling for justice.
The tensest moments so far have come when dozens of protesters clustered in front of bank branches, which quickly shut their doors and let in only a few customers at a time. Demonstrators pounded on the doors, chanted slogans including, “Don’t feed the greed,” and drew graffiti with the same sentiments on windows and walls…
At another Wells Fargo branch, at Franklin Street near 20th Street, managers locked the doors at 12:30 p.m. as a crowd converged. Protesters drew “jail bankers” on the walls and covered the ATM with yellow caution tape. Later, other protesters came and washed off the graffiti.
“There’s been every effort to keep people peaceful while making our point that banks need to be held accountable,” Joshua Deutch, a 30-year-old Oakland gardener, said as he slammed his fists on the windows.
As Micky Randhawa, Wells Fargo regional president for the East Bay, lamented to a reporter that customers were having a hard time getting into his business, teacher Christine Martin, 30, handed him her ATM card. “I would like to close my account,” she said, adding that this was her way of joining the day’s demonstration.
Randhawa told her the branch was closed.
Coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle on the Occupy Oakland General Strike’s march on banks earlier this afternoon. (via carton-rouge)
Thousands of workers and students have taken to Oakland’s downtown streets today as part of a daylong general strike called by Occupy Oakland organizers to protest economic inequity and corporate greed.
The crowd, which has forced the closure of some downtown streets, has been peaceful and almost celebratory - a band played and walked with the group and a “flash mob” broke out in dance at one point. Traffic, including AC Transit buses, is being diverted from the area around Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Protesters plastered signs and blocked customers from using ATMs at downtown banks. Many downtown businesses closed for the day.
By noon, the crowd had swelled to 3,500 for a lunchtime rally at 14th and Broadway. Police reported no damage and no arrests but were girding for the possibility of unrest later in the day.
Here’s more of the day’s developments:
The Port of Oakland was severely delayed after many longshoremen walked off the job in support of the General Strike.
More than 360 Oakland Unified School District teachers did not show up for work today, along with 5% of city workers.
Banks were closed across the city, as Oakland officials recommended that the ones who were still open ‘only let customers in one at a time.’
Large marches were held around several bank branches including Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo.
Many (if not most) businesses downtown were closed.
There were a few reports of broken windows at the Lakeside Drive branch of Bank of America, and at a Chase branch. Others reported “anarchists” attempting to cause damage to a Whole Foods, but dozens of marchers surrounded them and forced them to stand down. The Whole Foods was targeted over rumours that their employees were not allowed to participate in today’s work stoppage.
We will have more as things continue into the evening.