Last night there was a large march in Oakland, CA, to protest the George Zimmerman verdict. Not only was it considerably larger than the previous one, but the people who were on the march were more representative of the Oakland population – especially the black community – than any protest in Oakland in decades.
The mood was electric.
From a rally at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th St. & Broadway), we marched down Broadway towards the police station. As we marched along, quite a few bystanders were taking photos and waving. For the first time in this participant’s experience (over many, many years), when the bystanders were urged to join the march, almost all of them did so.
Many drivers honked and waved in support also.
We marched down Broadway, stopped at the police station, and then a large segment of the marchers surged up onto the freeway.
As opposed to past such freeway “occupations”, this time the police simply waited for 15 minutes or so, and then ordered everybody off. In the past, they chased people down, beat them quite severely, and then arrested them. In general, this time, there was a very limited police presence in overall. That is because they recognize that a new movement seems to be growing and they didn’t want to do anything to fan the flames.
Such new movements inevitably will have growing pains. Action will be the basis of the new movement, but it can’t continue on a steady diet of action, action, action and nothing else. That should be a lesson from Occupy Oakland.
This new movement is part of the world rebellion against capitalism and the repression that is an inevitable part of the system. That means that it will need a larger program. Here are some thoughts as to what could be included:
- Oppose mass incarceration of black people.
- Oppose torture – from Guantanamo to the torture of solitary confinement in California prisons.
- For decent jobs, a $20 per hour minimum wage and union rights for all.
- For free education at all levels for all.
- Environmental justice; stop poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
- For socialized medicine
- For an alternative to the corporate-controlled Democratic and Republican Parties.
- For a democratic, socialist society, run by the workers themselves.
This is definitely not all, but it could be a start.
Another thing to think about is this: As always, the youth are in the forefront. That is true in this movement also. But the question is how this movement can now link up with wider layers of the working class. This includes the union workers in the Bay Area. In thinking about this, we have to realize that there is a huge divide between the union rank and file and their official leadership. We have to go directly to the rank and file, especially public sector workers, many of whom were just out on strike.
As this new movement develops, it will be a step forward for it to figure out how to elect its own official leadership. That can’t be done right away, but down the road it will be necessary if smaller groups, organized on their own, aren’t to make the decisions for the movement as a whole.
These are just some suggestions for this new, dynamic, growing movement – part of the world wide rebellion against capitalism.