Thousands of protesters blocked the Port of Oakland Nov. 2, bringing work there to a halt. "Maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland," port authorities said in a statement. "Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so." Protesters, who streamed across a freeway overpass to mass at the port gates, stood atop tractor-trailers stopped in the middle of the street. Others climbed onto scaffolding over railroad tracks as a rock band played using amplifiers powered by stationary bike generators. Protesters also blocked streets near City Hall. The general strike was called by Occupy Oakland and supported by residents, a few small businesses, teachers and nurses with the California Nurses Association. The Oakland Education Association (OEA) executive board unanimously endorsed Occupy Oakland's "General Strike/Mass Day of Action" call, urging members to participate by "taking personal leave to join actions at Frank Ogawa Plaza, doing informational picketing at school sites, and holding teach-ins on the history of general strikes and organizing for economic justice." The general strike is the first event of its kind in Oakland since 1946.
Police fired tear gas late Oct. 25 into a crowd of several hundred protesters backing the Occupy movement who had attempted to retake an encampment outside Oakland City Hall that officers had cleared 12 hours earlier. Police forces from throughout the Bay Area were mobilized for the pre-dawn eviction, which was carried out with smoke grenades, with 75 arrested. Authorities cited "sanitary and public safety concerns" in the eviction. In the evening, hundreds of protesters met outside the public library, a few blocks to the east, and then marched on the police-held Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall—which the protesters had renamed Oscar Grant Plaza. An online video shows police repeatedly firing tear-gas canisters into the crowd. As we write, the plaza remains in police hands, with helicopters circling above, while protesters are regrouping again at San Pablo Ave. to the west. (Gawker, San Francisco Chronicle, IndyBay, Oct. 25)
In an Oct. 12 podcast from Death Row at SCI-Greene "super-max" state prison in western Pennsylvania, Mumia Abu-Jamal issued a statement of support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and its sibling encampment in Philadelphia. In the statement, online via Prison Radio, Abu-Jamal compares the Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Philly demonstrations to the revolution in Egypt, as well as this year's political protests in Wisconsin:
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Oct. 14 temporarily blocked portions of a controversial Alabama immigration law. The ruling came in response to a motion filed last week by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and a coalition of immigrants rights groups after a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama twice refused to block the law from taking effect. The appeals court granted the DoJ's motion to block Section 28, which requires immigration status checks of public school students, and Section 10, which makes it a misdemeanor for an undocumented resident not to have immigration papers. The appeals court refused to block provisions that require police to check the immigration status of suspected undocumented aliens, bar state courts from enforcing contracts involving undocumented immigrants and make it a felony for undocumented immigrants to enter into a "business transaction" or apply for a driver's license. The injunction will remain in effect until the Eleventh Circuit hears oral arguments and issues a ruling on the constitutional questions presented by the case.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a motion in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta Oct. 7 to halt enforcement of a controversial Alabama law that expands restrictions on undocumented immigrants. The law requires school officials to verify the immigration status of children and parents, authorizes police to detain an individual and ask for papers if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" that the driver is in the country illegally, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to determine whether potential employees are legal residents.
Oklahoma's constitutional amendment that bars the state's judges form considering sharia law is heading to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, after Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled it unconstitutional, saying "the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals." Oklahomans voted up the amendment last year by 70%, but Muneer Awad from the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a suit to keep it from going into effect. The district court found that the amendment amounted to an official disapproval of Islam by the state of Oklahoma, curtailing Muslims' political rights and violating the First Amendment. Oklahoma's Attorney General has appealed the decision. (KFOR, Oklahoma City, Sept. 9; WP, Sept. 8)
California's Legislative Analyst's Office released a status report on Aug. 5 concluding that California is unlikely to meet the US Supreme Court's two-year deadline to reduce the state's prison population by 34,000 inmates. California's prisoner realignment plan, which entails shifting thousands of low-level offenders to county jails, could reduce the prison population by 32,000 inmates—still a few thousand inmates short of decreasing the 180% prison capacity to the mandated 137.5% capacity, by June 27, 2013. The report states that despite statutory sentencing changes, out-of-state transfers, the construction of new prisons, and the realignment of certain adult offenders and parolees, California is urged to request additional time to comply with the order. The number of inmates currently in California prisons is approximately 143,500, about a 19,000 inmate reduction from 2006.
An immigrant family on Aug. 1 accused federal immigration officials of brutalizing a 46-year-old woman during a drug raid on a their home in Norco, Calif., where they had moved less than three weeks before. Carmen Bonilla told reporters in Spanish at a press conference at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles that roughly 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stormed the house on July 19, pointing guns at her and threatening to shoot. They said "shut up or we'll shoot," said Bonilla, before the agents shoved her to the floor and began kicking her. Bonilla said she and her daugter-in-law were held face-down on the floor with guns to their heads as agents searched the house, apparently for drugs. She said she later went to a hospital for treatment of scratches and bruises. "This family suffered an unjust attack by the authorities and had nothing to do with the drugs they were looking for," said immigration lawyer Jessica Domínguez, who represented the family at the press conference. Since the raid, the Bonillas say deportation proceedings have been brought against all undocumented family members. (LA Weekly's Informer blog, AP, EFE, NBC LA, Aug. 1)