Three thousand miles away from California, students and faculty members gathered on College Green outside Van Pelt Library yesterday afternoon in solidarity with the Occupy Oakland movement.
This symbolic strike — which at its peak saw about 150 protesters — began at noon and lasted exactly 99 minutes, alluding to the Occupy movement’s “99 percent” tenet. English professor Ania Loomba, who was at the event, said they “had a lot of people coming and going,” estimating “several hundred” overall.
The solidarity event at Penn took place just as Occupy Philadelphia protesters in Center City began their own 99-minute strike.
In Center City, about 30 Occupy Philadelphia protesters marched into the Comcast Center earlier in the afternoon, sitting down in the building’s lobby in protest against the communications giant, which protesters called a symbol of corporate interests.
Yesterday, Occupy Oakland called for the first general strike in the country in 65 years. The Occupy Oakland movement has been one of the most violent Occupy locations to date.
Oakland protesters were met with tear gas from the police, with at least one protester suffering a life-threatening injury and more than 100 arrests made, according to The New York Times.
Army veteran Scott Olsen has become a uniting symbol for the Occupy Oakland movement. Photos of a wounded and bloody Olsen after being shot by what many news sources are calling a “police projectile” went viral throughout the Occupy movement. The irony behind a Marine veteran falling wounded not abroad at war, but at a peaceful protest in Oakland, California resonates strongly among Occupy protesters.
In Chicago, students from several universities, including University of Illinois, DePaul and Northwestern staged a walkout last night, leaving their classes at 5 p.m. and marching to City Hall by 6 p.m. One Chicago student evoked the image of the battered soldier as her motivation for marching, “What happens to one of us happens to us all,” she told Occupy Chicago. “We are all Scott Olsen.”
Some students didn’t know that the Van Pelt protest happened. “I wasn’t aware of the event,” said Wharton senior William Doyle, who was in class at the Colonial Penn Center on Locust Walk when the group gathered outside the library.
College junior Julia Graber heard of the event from a friend and stopped by after class. “From what I saw, people from the crowd were using the human mic to step up and make statements,” Graber wrote in an email.
Part of the discussion at the protest included plans for an Occupy Teach-in tomorrow at 2 p.m. outside of Huntsman Hall, featuring professors, graduate students and Occupy Philadelphia organizers, in addition to an open forum.