Occupy Oakland 2-Year Anniversary Marked with Downtown Rally - NBC Bay Area

Occupy Oakland 2-Year Anniversary Marked with Downtown Rally



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    Occupy Wall Street protesters raise their hands and chant after they were dispersed by police deploying tear gas at 14th and Broadway Streets in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)

    Thursday marks two years since the Occupy movement set up camp in downtown Oakland, and an anniversary event this afternoon will honor the political activism spurred by the movement.

    Occupy Oakland built a camp at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2011 as part of the then-burgeoning Occupy Wall Street campaign.

    One of the group's first actions was to dub the site "Oscar Grant Plaza."

    The camp was officially dismantled about a month later after several violent confrontations between police and protesters.

    "Occupy" began in New York City and spread across the country and world as a way to protest economic disparity and the plight of the so-called "99 percent."

    In the years since, its members have taken on various issues from environmental degradation to immigrants' rights and beyond.

    At Thursday's anniversary event, the theme will revolve around the California prisoners' hunger strike that started in July and related issues, organizer JP Massar said.

    Starting at 2 p.m., music will entertain attendees, followed by a series of guest speakers.

    Sarah Shourd, a UC Berkeley graduate who was detained in Iran with her now-husband and friend after they crossed the border while hiking in Iraq on July 31, 2009, will address the crowd.

    Shourd will speak about her work as an activist since her return. She and the rest of the trio were accused of espionage and entering the country illegally. Shourd was held for more than a year in an Iranian prison.

    Massar said the Occupy anniversary event will be a chance to review the work done by activists, who have continued to meet at the plaza every Sunday.

    There will be an hour devoted to various "spin-off" committees to report what they have been working on and what they are planning for future action.

    The groups include those advocating for the family of 18-year-old Alan Blueford, who was fatally shot by Oakland police in May 2012, and those protesting the closure of the Berkeley post office.

    The anniversary event will also be an opportunity for attendees to "reaffirm our solidarity with the BART workers," event organizers Mike Wilson said.

    A transit strike may be announced at midnight, which Wilson said Occupy has vowed to support.

    Once the sun goes down, documentaries about Occupy Oakland and other groups will be screened.

    There will be donated food provided at the celebration.

    "It's not to wax nostalgic but to have a good time and come together," Massar said.

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