I just got back from Oakland. What a strange four days it's been! I rolled up in my little trailer on 11/1/11 and got off the freeway and found myself stuck in Oakland's China Town. I've been to Oakland once before but never in downtown. I found a semi-quite street to pull over on to get a feel for the place. I had to find a multi night resting spot for my little Toyota Tacoma and my "mattress on wheels" as I call it. After hitting a couple of parking structures to see if I could get late night access to my rig I realized the parking structure thing wasn't gonna happen and that I had to put something else together. So I got back on the road and literally canvased downtown to find Broadway & 14th, the meeting spot for the next days general strike rally. I found it. Homeless guy comes up to my window and asks " You gonna donate that trailer to the occupation?" I told him I am the occupation..., I'm the L.A. occupation! We had a laugh and I moved on to find my cosmo. campground. Sorry I'm not breaking this story down into proper paragraph, and other grammatical niceties, but I'm tired. Anyway, I found my spot three blocks away from the occupation, on 10th and Washington, on semi-quite street with a hip little bar just across the street from my trailer. I sat in my truck for a few minutes and then decided to pop into the pub, get an IPA and ask the bartender a few questions. 1. You think I can park there with my trailer and not get fucked with? He said "shouldn't be a problem". So I did. 2. I'm in town for the strike. Whats the vibe and are you supportive? He said "vibes a little tense after last weeks pitch battle, but we are in full support and closing for the day." I told him that the pitch battle and the call for a general strike is why I rolled up. "I think this is gonna be big." He said. Thanked him for his time, finished my IPA and headed up to the occupation.
I stolled into camp and noticed a few things different from OLA off the get go. The vibe of everyone in camp was sharp and focused after the previous weeks run-in with OPD. After the OPD tore down the camp the protesters procceded to completely rebuild and re-zone the area. They laid down hay on the floor of the whole plaza, they set in a network of wood pallets as a boardwalk so everyone could move freely through camp in multiple directions, they had three hundred plus tents back up within 8 hours, along with the food court, library, and welcome center! Impressive.
Occupy Oakland is pitched right in front of city hall. So I'm checking out the hall building when a guy rolls up and says to me with authority "Can I help you with anything?" I told him I rolled up for the strike and I'm from Occ. LA. and I wanted to check out your camp and say hello. He says, "No problem, we cool, just wanted to see what your about. We talk with everyone coming into camp to see who they are. We don't want any problems. All problems are handled outside of the occupation and our security team makes sure of that. Oakland PD isn't even allowed in here!" Final observation for that night: Oakland controls their occupation 100% and they don't answer to anyone, especially the Oakland PD! Things are running smoother then ever and everyone is collectively more focused. The next day they had a general strike that shut down the fifth largest port in the United States!