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Occupy Oakland, city prepping for general strike
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) ' Anti-Wall Street demonstrators and Oakland city officials on Monday were preparing for a midweek strike by protesters that would include a possible shutdown of the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest shipping container port in the U.S.
Organizers for Occupy Oakland said during an afternoon news conference that in addition to the port disruption on Wednesday, they also plan to march outside banks, corporations, foreclosed homes, schools and libraries in what they are calling a broad-based call to action.
According to its website, the local Service Employees International Union is encouraging members to seek time off work to stand in support of Occupy Oakland.
"Capitalism is pitting different people in different places. We all have really different experiences of how our lives are falling apart because of this system," said Louise Michel, an Occupy Oakland organizer. "The key is there is no one answer. We are looking for a lot of different things."
Another organizer, Boots Riley, said Oakland has become a flashpoint for the anti-Wall Street movement as he expects thousands to participate in the strike.
"All over the world people are marching in solidary with and looking to Oakland," Riley said. "People are looking at Oakland, California. You know why? It's become clear that some people in the United States have made a radical, militant connection between capitalism and labor.
"We want to show that for this one day, we can take it back if we want to."
The port will be open for maritime operations on Wednesday, port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur said Monday.
"We understand there could be some disruption. We will be monitoring the situation closely," she said. "We support everyone's right to free speech. We hope for a peaceful and safe march for all involved."
The Port of Oakland was where more than 40 people were injured after police used less-lethal ammunition on crowds of anti-war protesters in 2003. Oakland officials later adopted new crowd control rules defining when and what types of less than lethal ammunition can be used.
Late Monday, Oakland city officials released a bulletin advising businesses and merchants that police will be on hand Wednesday in case demonstrations become unlawful.
"Oakland is open for business. We are not urging businesses to close on Wednesday. Instead, we advise that you use common sense precautions and convey a sense of calm to your employees and customers," the bulletin said. "This is a fluid situation with many organizations participating in various actions in different manners."
Also Monday, city officials returned medical supplies to Occupy Oakland's medical tent that were confiscated during last week's police raid of the encampment that led to more than 100 arrests and an Iraq war veteran hospitalized with a fractured skull after a clash with officers.
The medical supplies return came a day after an apparent notice from protesters threatening a sit-in outside at Mayor Jean Quan's office at City Hall if the materials weren't given back. Occupy organizers, however, deny any connection with that notice.
Protesters reclaimed their camp on the lawn outside Oakland's City Hall after police cleared the area in the raid and clash on Oct. 25. Nearly six dozen tents were at the site Monday. City officials reported that activities there were calm and peaceful.
Associated Press writer Terry Collins contributed from San Francisco.
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