If protesting for weeks on end were not enough, Occupy Oakland is now organizing a general strike to "liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%" -- and sadly, Mayor Jean Quan seems to be on board. The City of Oakland has advised all businesses to "leave the cash drawer empty and open after business hours" and has even given all city employees off -- except the police that is.
The understandably confounded Oakland Police Officers Association posted the following open letter to Quan on their site, questioning why the city plans to beef up its police presence at strike-related events while giving other city workers an opportunity to participate in the strikes themselves.
"Is it the City's intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?" the letter said.
On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.
Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.
To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.
That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?
It is all very confusing to us.
According to the AP, city offices are set to remain open during the strike and Quan's office has urged businesses not to close.
Protesters say they are heading to the port - one of the country's largest - to block "the flow of capital."
To make matters worse, in a memo written on Friday, City Administrator Deanna Santana said workers can use vacation or other paid time off to participate in the strike.
Below is a CNNMoney report from inside Occupy Oakland:
Quan said in a statement Tuesday that she hoped Wednesday's strike would be peaceful and that she was working with interim Police Chief Howard Jordan to ensure that the protesters issues are "front and center."
"The pro-99 percent activists - whose cause I support - will have the freedom to get their message across without the conflict that marred last week's events," Quan said. "Although getting the balance right is never an easy task, in Oakland we are committed to honoring free speech and protecting public safety."
Police are understandably upset, given that they were asked to clear the protesters' encampment a mere week ago, only to have Quan allow the protesters to reclaim the camp a day later.
Meanwhile, last Tuesday's raid along with the riot-standoff that evening cost the city $1 million, said Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland police union.
Arotzarena said that the officers, who also view themselves as part of the "99%," are now confused about Quan's stance heading into Wednesday's strike.
"What was last Tuesday all about? The mayor is painting us as the bad guys in all of this," he told The Associated Press. "We get one order one day and then she flip-flops the next day. We're going to be seen as the establishment, and it's not fair to the police, it's not fair to anyone.
"We're set to fail on this."
The mayor, a self-proclaimed civil rights activist in San Francisco's progressive movement, has only been in office for less than a year, and already struggles to formulate a coherent response to the Occupy which she says she and the city "supports."
"It was sort of remarkable that she was able to alienate both sides," said University of San Francisco political scientist Corey Cook of Quan's relationship with protesters and police. "She has no friends at this point."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.