Occupy Oakland protesters march through streets of Downtown Oakland, vote to strike

Kevin Foote/Staff
An Occupy Oakland protester was arrested at the 12th Street BART Station in Oakland.

Several thousand Occupy Oakland protesters met peacefully in Downtown Oakland Wednesday night — the day after clashes with police led to to the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, flash-bang canisters and several arrests and injuries.

At about 6 p.m., the protesters, who occupied the Frank Ogawa Plaza starting Oct. 10 until their tent city was dismantled by police early Tuesday morning, met in the amphitheater between city hall and the plaza for their daily general assembly meeting during which they decided to hold a general strike next Wednesday. The proposal to strike was approved by 1,484 of the protesters present — well over the 90 percent required votes.

Details of the strike —  in which protesters plan to encourage workers throughout Oakland to leave work and march with them, as well as students and those who are unemployed or homeless —  will be sorted out at Thursday’s 5 p.m. meeting and over the course of the week.

Although the plaza was fenced off at the beginning of the night after being cleared and sanitized by city officials, protesters quickly removed the fences and neatly stacked them around the area.

Oakland resident Jhumpa Bhattacharya, 34, attended Wednesday night’s meeting saying she hoped to march with protesters for the first time after seeing the images of violence from the night before.

“The police brutality last night emboldened me to come out and see what was happening,” Bhattacharya said.

After the meeting, many participants headed to San Francisco after hearing that the Occupy SF camp located at Justin Herman Plaza might be raided by police later in the night, while others marched through the streets of Downtown Oakland for several hours to show solidarity for the Occupy movement that has been sweeping the nation and world.

Throughout the night, speakers in Oakland reminded the crowd that Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City were marching in solidarity with the Oakland movement, and that the entire world was watching Oakland. Prior to the general assembly meeting, a speaker announced that Occupy Wall Street had voted to donate $20,000 to Occupy Oakland.

“This is a really pivotal moment,” said UC Berkeley senior Elizabeth Graham, one of the organizers of Occupy Berkeley who attended Occupy Oakland last night. “It’s important for people to come out and support each other’s occupations.”

Graham and several other Occupy Berkeley protesters headed to San Francisco after the meeting to support the occupation there.

By the end of the night, at least four protesters had set up a tent and blankets on the plaza, saying they planned to spend the night and restart the occupation.

Officers from the Oakland Police Department were present throughout the night in the vicinity around the protest, but had little direct interaction besides one instance when two people were arrested in the 12th St. Oakland City Center Station BART station after protesters tried to raise the gate to enter the station. Nearby BART stations were temporarily shut down until later in the night.