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Occupy's General Strike Draws Thousands

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Caitlin Esch/KQED

Broken window at 20th St. and Webster St. in downtown Oakland.

 

Cy Musiker: Thousands of people have answered Occupy Oakland's call for a general strike. The city has not shut down, but hundreds of teachers, nurses and city workers took the day off to join in the day of protests. And a diverse array of others including school children took part in a series of demonstrations that began this morning, focused on a host of issues ranging from income inequality to police brutality. The general strike is culminating at this hour with a march to the Port of Oakland.

Late this afternoon the protests were marred by several episodes where small groups broke away and smashed windows at several banks, small businesses, and at the Whole Foods Market at 27th and Harrison Streets. That led to heated exchanges between the small group of window smashers and the mass of protesters trying to keep the event non-violent. Zach Voorhees tackled one of the window breakers and said vandalism would defeat the purpose of today's actions.

Voorhees: This is about changing the system. And if people cause violence then they are going to disrupt the narrative and they are going to take focus away and they are going to give police the justification to crackdown. Violence does not change. Non-violence is the most powerful weapon that we have as citizens.

Musiker: Police kept a low profile throughout the afternoon protests and no arrests have been reported at this hour. Those episodes of unrest were very different in character from the celebratory mood at noon as about 250 children, parents and teachers marched from Oakland's Main Library to an Occupy Oakland rally outside City Hall.

Esperanza Terbelan-Delmont is with the civic engagement group Oakland Rising. She marched with her four-year-old son to show him that families can band together in the face of financial struggles.

Terbelan-Delmont: This year the Halloween costume has to be made instead of purchased. And so to be able to have that conversation in a bigger context I think provides kids with an opportunity to be OK with what's happening, to really have a community of folks around them who are also struggling.

Musiker: And sixth grader Aaron Bendich from the East Bay School For Boys was carrying a sign that read "The 99 percent generation."

Bendich: It seems like this could be something really big that this could really change the world. And in a good way, so I'm happy about that.

Musiker: For many kids it was a first taste of public protest, but their parents are hoping that families will become a major part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

 

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