Occupy protesters try to disrupt Calif. ports

By Terry Collins

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 12 2011 12:01 p.m. MST

Christy Wong, of San Jose, chants at police officers after blocking an entrance to the Port of Oakland, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. Anti-Wall Street protesters along the West Coast joined an effort Monday to blockade some of the nation's busiest docks, with the idea that if they cut off the ports, they cut into corporate profits.

Beck Diefenbach, Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — Crowds of anti-Wall Street protesters stopped truck traffic Monday at two busy Port of Oakland gates as the movement converged on West Coast ports.

Several hundred people began picketing at the Port of Oakland before dawn and blocked at least two entrances. A long line of big rigs sat outside the gates, unable to drive into the port.

Police in riot gear monitored the scene as protesters marched in an oval and carried signs with messages such as "Labor and Occupy Unite," an invitation to the powerful dockworkers union join their push against corporate greed.

No major clashes with police were reported.

Longshoremen arriving for the morning shift at the two affected port terminals did not try to enter due to what union officials said were safety concerns. Some said they weren't willing to cross the demonstrators' picket lines.

Port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said the protests were causing sporadic disruptions but all port terminals remained in operation.

The actions were part of a coordinated effort by the Occupy Wall Street movement to shut down major ports along the West Coast and cut into corporate profits.

In Southern California, as many as 400 demonstrators gathered in a park then marched in heavy rain to the Port of Long Beach. Before most dispersed about 9 a.m., they targeted a dock facility leased by SSA Marine, a shipping company partially owned by giant investment firm Goldman Sachs.

Beating drums and waving flags, dozens of protesters, gathered outside a fenced area at the port, part of a sprawling complex that spans parts of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Police repeatedly warned that they faced arrest if they crossed the fenced area. Officers later started pushing the protesters further back. They spilled into the street, blocking access to the pier and holding up truck traffic. At least one person was taken into custody.

Protesters mostly remained in a parking lot so there were no major disruptions to operations, port spokesman John Pope said.

In Ventura County, about 150 protesters picketed outside the entrance to the Port of Hueneme. No arrests were reported.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents longshoremen up and down the West Coast, has said it didn't support the attempted shutdowns. Port workers and truck drivers have said the protests will hurt the incomes of people who have little connection to Wall Street.

"I'm pissed. This is joke. What are they protesting?" Christian Vega, 32, who sat in his truck at the Port of Oakland carrying a load of recycled paper from Pittsburgh said Monday morning. He said the delay was costing him $600.

"It only hurts me and the other drivers. We have jobs and families to support and feed. Most of them don't," Vega said.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan also urged protesters to consider the impact on port workers.

"Thousands of people work at the Port of Oakland every day. Thousands more in agriculture and other industries also depend on the Port of Oakland for their daily wages," Quan said.

Oakland protester Alex Schmaus, 26, said he believed the attempted shutdown was for the greater good of workers.

"We're trying to make things better for them," Schmaus said.

Associated Press writer Robert Jablon and Christina Hoag in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS