Update on San Francisco Bay Area Occupations

… and remembering Chile Sept. 11, 1973 – Published on Dissident Voice, by Shepherd Bliss, October 29, 2011.

Occupy Oakland won a resounding October 26 victory by mobilizing 3000 people to respond to a police riot. They took down the police fence that exiled them from the plaza in front of city hall, set up tents again, and returned to dancing and receiving massage and acupuncture treatments. 

Some 1500 people later attended a daily General Assembly and voted for a general strike on November 2. It would be the first one in the United States since l946, which was also in Oakland. Such a strike calls on workers and students to stay home from work and school and try to shut down the city. Downtown banks were also encouraged to close and demonstrators vowed to enter them if they did not.

“The whole world is watching Oakland” chants can be heard at various occupations around the United States and read in their communications.

In Oakland’s police riot, shotguns fired projectiles and helicopters and armored personnel carriers were employed by the some 400 police officers. They created a martial law environment to intimidate unarmed citizens as they mobilized against multiple social injustices. Some described it as a “drill” for what could happen at other occupation sites. But this repression is stimulating more resistance around the Bay Area and elsewhere.

In San Francisco, police gathered on the morning of October 27 with their masks and riot gear, with the apparent intention of evicting occupiers. They were met by 1000 protestors and backed down. As with the threat by New York City’s mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who ordered police to evict Occupy Wall Street, there have now been three important coast-to-coast victories for the 99% in the growing struggle against the 1%.

Four San Francisco Board of Supervisors, a California state senator, and other elected officials joined the protestors. They called for negotiations with the occupiers, rather than force. In two weeks San Francisco will vote for mayor. The current interim Mayor Ed Lee is running. A failed attempt to evict the emboldened occupiers would doom his campaign … //

… Let’s not be naïve and innocent to expect that the 1% will give up their substantial wealth exploited from the labor of the rest of us and nature’s bounty. The struggle has only entered its next stages. There is likely to be setbacks, but victory is still possible.

“I have been haunted by voices from the other side of death,” wrote Chilean-American author Ariel Dorfman on October 10 as the Occupy movement unfolded. He wrote of “that other September 11th,” I have also been haunted by those voices, given the torture and assassination of my good friend Frank Teruggi by the Chilean military. If it is to successfully challenge power, the Occupy movement is likely to experience deaths, as we did in the l960s with the Kent State murders. Then what? Some will retreat to their private lives.

There is much to learn from defeat, as Dorfman writes. There have been “many who tried and failed.” They “gave their lives to change the world.”

Might the Occupy movement be a next step in the fall of the American Empire? After the mighty U.S. defeats in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Wounded beasts can be deadly. What might be left after such a fall? Could we return to the American Republic and its values of liberty, freedom, and equality for all?

“Go down fighting,” Dorfman advises. Better than groveling on one’s knees for crumbs. (full text).

(Shepherd Bliss owns Kokopelli, teaches at Sonoma State University, and has contributed to a couple of dozen books. He can be reached here. Read other articles by Shepherd, or visit Shepherd’s website).

Comments are closed.