Being at the Oakland General Strike/Day of Action for most of the day, you would think that you would be completely exhausted, but surprisingly, when 4 o’ clock rolled around to begin the march to the Port of Oakland the energy was high.
A large group had just returned from the march on the banks where the crowd had shut down the Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Crowds of people had gathered in front of banks singing, dancing and forming chains to prevent people from coming in, thus successfully shutting down the banks for the day.
We had all returned to the corner of 14th and Broadway to cheers, chants, music and excitement as we embarked on the nearly 3 mile march to the Port of Oakland to shut it down.
We all looked around and saw the diversity of the crowd from students, babies in strollers, teachers, union members, and even an 88 year old man with a cane named EJ who had traveled from San Francisco to march in solidarity. Walking side by side with this whole group you started to feel really connected with the strangers around you who were there for a common cause — to show that people power is a strong force to make positive change.
As we kept marching, we turned a corner to cross the bridge toward the port and as we did, there was a collective gasp from everyone turning that corner as we saw the amount of people that were there. As we continued to walk up the slope of the bridge, we kept looking forward and looking back at the crowd that we were part of and it was breathtaking. Throngs and throngs of people kept streaming in with no end. It was hard to tell where it all began or ended. As we looked forward toward those famous Oakland cranes, the sun was setting and everyone was soaking in the feeling of the dawn of something new. There were embraces, smiles, excited chattering and chills running through peoples bodies as we really began to grasp the strength of our numbers.
People were standing on top of rigs and scaffolding waving flags, cheering, singing and dancing. There were some truck drivers in their halted big rigs honking their horns in solidarity. There were drum circles, encouraging speeches being given and general joy throughout the crowd as the people shut down the Port of Oakland — the 5th largest port in the nation.
Darkness continued to set, and as 8PM approached, an announcement came through the crowd trying to mobilize more people to get to the end of the port to block the shift change. As the call came in, more people marched to the end of the port and successfully blocked the shift change and officially shut down the port that day. Success in mobilization.
As we returned to the Ogawa/Grant plaza, the energy was still high and people were reflecting on the events of the day. We all thought back on the crowds of people, the creativity of the movement and how well we all worked together to get our voices heard around the world in a peaceful manner.
Global Exchange had an amazing time connecting with our Oakland community and beyond to share in the common struggle for peace, social justice and economic equality. We are still trying to look through our loads of photos and videos and will be sharing them with you as we compile it all.
Thank you #OccupyOakland and everyone who made this possible. A new beginning is near.