Occupy Oakland General Strike and the Whole Foods Incident

STRIKE spraypainted on Oakland Whole Foods window during General Strike demonstrations
STRIKE spraypainted on Oakland Whole Foods window during General Strike demonstrations (Wendy Goodfriend)

I was taking photos to cover the Occupy movement's General Strike in Oakland for KQED News on 11/2/11. I followed a few smaller contingents to document their marches including the education protest at the University of California and the Anti-Capitalist March. Here is my perspective on the situation that occurred at the Oakland Whole Foods during the Anti-Capitalist March. I have also included a couple of graphic videos by others to reveal some of the activities that took place.

The Anti-Capitalist March that started from the main area surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza as part of the General Strike ended up including Oakland Whole Foods along their route. Why Whole Foods? I don't know if Whole Foods was originally planned as a protest destination along with financial institutions, but I got the impression that the marchers were following up on information shared by a speaker addressing the crowd at the General Strike in Frank Ogawa Plaza. The speaker told the crowd that a Whole Foods employee was told by management that his/her employment status would be jeopardized if he/she chose not to work to attend the General Strike. This information was circulating on Twitter (12:43pm) as well.

Tweet about Whole Foods Market and General Strike

[Update 11/5/11: whole foods oakland @wfm_oakland tweeted rumors are false at 2:07pm] Whole Foods Market Northern California dispelled this information as rumor on their Twitter feed (2:29pm) and Facebook page (at 2:28pm). I believe the protesters got to Whole Foods at approximately 2:40pm shortly after this information went out via social media.

Whole Foods NorCal tweet dispelling rumor about saying they would fire an employee for not working and attending General Strike

Anti-Capitalist march -- The Hunger Games
The Anti-Capitalist March before leaving the main protest area surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza. Note food reference: The Hunger Games (Wendy Goodfriend)
Anti-Capitalist March during Occupy Oakland General Strike
The Anti-Capitalist March en route. Note food reference: The Vegan Police (Wendy Goodfriend)

When the marchers got to Whole Foods one protester immediately started spray painting the window of Whole Foods with the word "STRIKE." Another protester attempted to break the window using the long pole with the black flag he/she was carrying. Conflict ensued as a protestor tried to physically stop the protester who had been trying to break the window. Andrew Stelzer reporting for KQED News shot video of this incident (see below). I moved to the periphery of the scene and took photos as a number of protesters in the contingent began to throw chairs and tables into the street, broke a window and spray painted the exterior of the building. Numerous other protesters mobilized and eventually got the protesters who were vandalizing Whole Foods to stop their activities (see TomVeeTV video below). During this incident I did not see any police in the area. This conflict was resolved within the group. The protesters regrouped, and the march moved on.

Protestor from the Anti-Capitalist March spray painting window at Oakland Whole Foods
Protestor from the Anti-Capitalist March spray painting window at Oakland Whole Foods (Wendy Goodfriend)

http://www.youtube.com/embed/rqoFR1MPSH0
Video shot by Andrew Stelzer of the incident at Oakland Whole Foods

Oakland Whole Food -- protesters throwing chairs, tables, spraypainting, breaking windows
Oakland Whole Food -- protesters throwing chairs, tables, spraypainting, breaking windows (Wendy Goodfriend)
The massive crowd of protesters at Whole Food in Oakland during the General Strike
The massive crowd of protesters at Whole Food in Oakland during the General Strike (Wendy Goodfriend)

http://www.youtube.com/embed/ZqYM_fNsndA
TomVeeTV's video is quite graphic and shows the conflict between the protesters. Whole Foods incident starts right after 2:25 minutes into video

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