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Oakland Protesters Call for General Strike Against City

by Peter Henderson

An Iraq war veteran badly wounded in clashes between protesters and police remained in hospital on Thursday morning as activists called for a general strike against the Bay Area city.

Occupy Oakland protester Scott Olsen, a former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran, is carried away after being injured during a demonstration in Oakland, California October 25, 2011. (Credit: REUTERS/Jay Finneburgh) Occupy Oakland organizers said they had voted to stage the strike next week, intending to shut down the city following what a spokeswoman called the "brutal and vicious" treatment of protesters, including former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen.

Olsen, 24, has become a rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement nationwide.

"We mean nobody goes to work, nobody goes to school, we shut the city down," organizer Cat Brooks said. "The only thing they seem to care about is money and they don't understand that it's our money they need. We don't need them, they need us."

Here's the full Occupy Oakland statement, that was passed by their General Assembly with a 96.9% majority:

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

The Strike Coordinating Council will begin meeting everyday at 5pm in Oscar Grant Plaza before the daily General Assembly at 7pm. All strike participants are invited. Stay tuned for much more information and see you next Wednesday.

Spokeswomen for the city of Oakland and Mayor Jean Quan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Brooks said a general strike was a "natural progression" following a crackdown by the city of Oakland early on Tuesday morning in which protesters were evicted from a plaza near city hall and 85 people were arrested.

Protesters sought to re-take that plaza on Tuesday night and were repeatedly driven back by police using stun grenades and tear gas. It was during one of those clashes that protesters say Olsen was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police.

A spokesman for Highland General Hospital in Oakland has confirmed Olsen was listed in critical condition from injuries sustained during the protest, but could not say how he was hurt.

Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told a news conference his department was investigating the incident.

Olsen is believed to be the most seriously wounded person yet in confrontations between police and activists since Occupy Wall Street protests began last month in New York.

News of his injury ignited a furor among supporters of the protests. Activists in Oakland and elsewhere took to Twitter and other social media urging demonstrators back into the streets en masse.

More than 1,000 protesters moved onto the streets of Oakland again on Wednesday night as police largely kept their distance.

Friends say Olsen had been active in several anti-war veterans groups and had joined Oakland protesters in a gesture of solidarity after learning of the police crackdown there.

Keith Shannon, 24, who said he served with Olsen in Iraq, told Reuters his friend suffered a two-inch skull fracture and brain swelling and had been sedated and placed on a respirator in the hospital's emergency room trauma center while neurosurgeons decided whether to operate.

Olsen served two tours in Iraq from 2006 to 2010 with the 3rd battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Shannon said, adding that he and Olsen deployed together and were assigned to a tactical communications unit.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Ben Berkowitz, Emmett Berg and Mary Slosson; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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