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Occupy Oakland plans general strike

A small shrine is set up for injured Iraqi war veteran Scott Olsen at a new encampment in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California on October 28, 2011. Olsen suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a projectile fired by police during the Occupy Oakland protests. UPI/Terry Schmitt
A small shrine is set up for injured Iraqi war veteran Scott Olsen at a new encampment in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California on October 28, 2011. Olsen suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a projectile fired by police during the Occupy Oakland protests. UPI/Terry Schmitt | License Photo

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Occupy Oakland demonstrators expect tens of thousands of people to participate in a general strike Wednesday in the California city, an organizer said.

Flyers announcing the strike said "all banks and corporations must close down for the day or we will march on them." The flyers called for solidarity with the global Occupy movement, an end to police aggression and pledged support for local schools and libraries.

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Organizer Tim Simons said organized labor plans to participate.

Simons said the general strike would be "the largest organization project any of us have ever been involved in," and tens of thousands of people were expected to participate, the Oakland Tribune reported Monday.

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Because of the diversity of perspectives, "there won't be one center of gravity driving the whole thing," Simons said.

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The strike has received support from local labor leaders and union members. Unions had yet voted to officially support the strike but organizers said they expect a high level of participation, the Tribune reported.

Sue Piper, a spokeswoman for Mayor Nancy Quan, said city employees who want to support the strike can ask their supervisors for permission to use leave time, a floating unpaid furlough day, or a day off without pay on Wednesday.

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In Portland, Ore., Occupy protesters vowed to expand where they protest after the mayor told them to focus on their goals instead of the real estate they occupy.

"I hope in its next phase of growth it gets back to its core mission. The Occupy movement is not about expanding the takeover of local parks in cities like Portland where the mayor and the City Council are very supportive of the founding purpose of Occupy Wall Street," Mayor Sam Adams was quoted in The (Portland) Oregonian as saying.

"If this becomes about picking fights with local governments that are generally supportive of its founding purpose, I think it will lose its way," he said.

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Cameron Whitten, 20 -- among 27 Occupy Portland activists arrested in a heated encounter with police early Sunday for refusing to leave a city park after a midnight curfew -- said protesters intended to expand their efforts beyond their downtown encampment in the wealthy Pearl District's Jamison Square park.

In Austin, Texas, officials asked activists to appoint leaders to work out new rules for the occupation after police arrested 37 demonstrators early Sunday for violating new rules forbidding a food-distribution table at the encampment from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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The food table does not violate city ordinances but officials thought prohibiting it would weed out troublemakers who have infiltrated the protest, Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald was quoted in the Austin American-Statesman as saying.

Working with a steering committee of occupiers would allow for more consistent, efficient decision-making, Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

The Occupy Austin activists had no immediate response.

In Tennessee, Occupy Nashville protesters arrested during the weekend for refusing to leave a public park after curfew were freed by a judge who said the state had no authority to impose the curfew.

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Gov. Bill Haslam's administration imposed a curfew in the encampment park. citing safety concerns, and police took 29 activists into custody early Friday and then 26 more early Saturday.

Night Court Magistrate Thomas Nelson released the activists both times, refusing to sign arrest warrants for which he found no legal basis.

"For three weeks they've sat up there and protested, under no admonition whatsoever that they are violating state policy with regard to camping out ... or that they are committing a crime," WKRN-TV, Nashville, said Nelson told a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer. The highway patrol made the arrests.

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"When the state issued its memorandum imposing a curfew and changing the rules, right in the middle of a protest, they can do that, but they have to give them adequate time to comply with those rules," he said.

The highway patrol issued a statement Sunday saying "the curfew remains in effect."

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