The goal this morning was to shut down the Oakland port, and the thousands who marched through the city streets on Wednesday were successful. The Occupy Oakland protesters flooded the port area, causing officials to temporarily shut down maritime activities, according to The New York Times. Unlike the previous week when Oakland police used tear gas and made over one hundred arrests during the city's Occupy Wall Street protests, Wednesday's march was peaceful and police presence was minimal. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan did ask the police to scale back their activity.
All in all, it seems the movement was huge, the crowd was positive, and the result, well the port was closed. Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a symbolic gesture, as huge as it is, that probably will not convince any banks to give their bailout money back or change lending practices or any 1% members to convert to a more socialist view of the world.
What Do the Oakland Protesters Want?
The focus of the march in Oakland, as well as the wave of Occupy Wall Street protests that have sprung up across the country, is to put economic focus on the 99%, rather than the 1%. It is a movement for the working man, the middle class, everyone in the country that is not a member of the top economic 1%. That is a lot of people.
A big issue is the billion-dollar bank bailouts that were supposed to hold up the economy, but never benefited anyone except for the banks. Now the message is that the government is out of cash and cuts are necessary everywhereÂ—in education, health care, and even the FDA. Mayor Quan said she respected many of the demands of the Occupy Oakland protesters, including fair lending practices and capital for low-income communities.
How Was Oakland Affected?
Aside from the Oakland port being shut down early Wednesday evening, many businesses did stay open. Schools were open, although many students and 2,000 teachers were not in attendance. City offices were open, with about 5% of employees absent and likely marching. Some businesses closed in support of Occupy Wall Street, and others profited, selling ice cream to the marchers. This may have not been a full strike, but it is probably enough to keep the movement going.