Thousands of Oakland workers and students left their jobs and walked out of schools on Wednesday as part of a general strike intended to “shut down Oakland."
The groups converged on City Hall and joined with other protesters camped out at Frank Ogawa Plaza, recently renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by the Occupy Oakland demonstrators.
Early in the day, the protests at City Hall were peaceful and the police presence was minimal. Later in the afternoon, protesters marched to the Port of Oakland in hopes of shutting down operations by blocking entrances and creating havoc. Though they succeeded in shutting down port operations on Wednesday night, the port was up and running by Thursday.
Violence broke out in downtown Oakland later in the evening, after most of the protesters had left the port and returned to the plaza. By morning, 80 people had been arrested, and five civilians and three police officers had sustained injuries.
Young participants of the strike and walkout, interviewed by New America Media, had a number of issues on their minds, but education was at the forefront.
Michael Samson, 25, from Oakland, said he’d been waiting all of his life to see a protest of this magnitude.
“This is our future. If you’re graduating from college right now, you know what the situation’s like… For us, there’s nothing. We’re being hit with incredible amounts of student debt, in terms of loans.”
Samson said he has a friend who graduated from Stanford who is now over $150,000 in debt.
A group of students who participated in the walkout of Berkeley High School said they all worry about getting into college and finding a job after they graduate. One of the students, an 18-year-old who preferred to remain anonymous, held a sign that read, “My education is worth more than corporate profit!”
Gerome, 23, from Oakland, goes to Holy Names College in ...