Occupy shuts down morning shift at Port of Oakland

Photo by Luke Thomas, Fog City Journal

Usually, when significant events related to the Occupy movement occur in the pre-dawn hours, it means an encampment has been raided. But this morning, Occupy protesters were the ones carrying out a strategic plan before the sun came up.

A main objective of today's Port of Oakland shutdown -- the second in two months initiated by Occupy Oakland -- was to strike back against the police raids that dismantled their camps.

Protesters led by Occupy Oakland effectively shut down the morning shift at the Port of Oakland today, Dec. 12, as part of a Coordinated West Coast Port Blockade that Occupy groups from San Diego to Anchorage have been planning since Nov. 18, when Occupy Oakland's General Assembly unanimously approved the call to action.

Several hundred activists met up at the West Oakland BART station at 5:30 a.m. and proceeded to march down Seventh Street to the sprawling shipping hub, where they formed picket lines outside terminal entrances to prevent workers from entering the gates for the 7 a.m. shift. Shortly after they began picketing, truckers waiting to load or unload cargo began turning around to exit port property.

There were several busloads of protesters in addition to those who traveled to the port on foot, as well as a bicycle contingent. While most protesters filed through the streets in an uncharacteristically quiet march that seemed muted due to a lack of sleep, a few displayed gusto with a sound system, shiny homemade flags, and flashy outfits. Some showed up toting a life-sized cut-out of Lt. John Pike, the University of California Davis officer who became notorious for dispersing teargas into student protesters' eyes, with the face cut out so people could pose for photos.

Police arrived on the scene clad in riot gear, but did not attempt to prevent protesters from circling up around the gate entrances and forming picket lines. They stood in formations in front of the gates weilding batons and teargas launchers, though protesters had no intention of entering the gates and only sought to block them. Alameda County Sheriff buses circled the area as well.

Around 7 a.m., when the morning shift would have typically started, two ILWU dockworkers (who declined to give their names) stood near the Hanjin Shipping gate at berths 55 and 56, surveying the picket line. Past the gate, a cargo vessel which had likely come from Japan was berthed and waiting to unload.

"Ain't nobody going to cross it," one of the men offered. The other gestured toward protesters and said, "These are Americans wanting American jobs." Asked how he felt about the picket, he responded, "We don't support it, because it's not in our contract -- but I do see some issues, like we're hurting, too." The ILWU members said longshoremen turned away because of the picket line wouldn't be paid for the day, because they're only registered as having reported to work if they're physically on the terminal. They also noted that there was a relatively light workload at Oakland terminals on this particular day.

The official objectives of the port blockade, aside from showing resistance against crackdowns on Occupy encampments, were to demonstrate Occupy's solidarity with longshore workers and port truckers. The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21, based in Longview, Wash., has been locked in a legal dispute with Export Grain Terminal (EGT) stemming from what workers characterize as union-busting practices.

Port truckers, particularly in Los Angeles, have been unable to unionize due to their employment classification as independent contractors, and protesters sought to highlight their struggle as well. Picketers held signs declaring solidarity with the ILWU and truckers against the one percent -- global shipping companies owned in part by agribusiness giant Bunge, Ltd. and Goldman Sachs, respectively, who profit from their labor.

Speaking into a megaphone, organizer Barucha Peller announced that occupiers in southern Washington had shut down the Port of Longview, according to a text message from ILWU Local 21. Union members wanted to thank the movement for the show of support.

By around 10 a.m., an independent arbitrator had ruled that the picket posed a health and safety risk to longshore workers, so the dockworkers were sent home, effectively halting port activity for the first part of the day. "I'm really impressed that so many people got up at five o'clock in the morning," Anthony Lavierge, a steward with ILWU, said into the megaphone. "It's officially shut down. The longhshore labor is officially going home." However, protesters planned to return to the port later on to prevent the start of an evening shift.

Following the announcement that workers had gone home for the day, protesters marched back to West Oakland BART station. A second march to the port is planned for 4 p.m., leaving from 14th and Broadway streets in downtown Oakland following a 3 p.m. rally. A third march to the port is scheduled to leave the West Oakland BART station at 5 p.m.


Seems to me it is only harming the dock workers.

The more this "movement" goes on, the less focused and more random it appears to be.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

I think it is suppose to strike back at Goldman Sachs and not at the Police. Which is what the occupiers have been protesting against since their origination in September.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

"strategic plan before the sun came up . . . main objective of today's Port of Oakland shutdown -- the second in two months initiated by Occupy Oakland -- was to strike back against the police raids that dismantled their camps."

So it was a "strategic plan" to strike back at the police? Or the dockers? Or the city? Or the banks? Or the rich?

Or just everyone but the few hundred who were protesting?

This whole movement is failing because it is so non-specific. They just come across as whiney and unfocused.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

the protesters?

The action was clearly a strike against Wall Street capital, though perhaps indeed with overtones of the protesters showing the cops that they don't run the show in Oakland.

We do.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 12, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

Wall st. capital"?

It's the exact opposite - an attack against workers. Do you think anyone on Wall st. cared about yesterday's action?

Likewise, the cops are just working people. Occupy is picking the easy targets but not the right targets.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 7:12 am

The actions were a strike against Wall Street capital because Wall Street capital lost profits during the blockade. Pretty simple concept really. And the actions also expressly leveraged solidarity with Washington state workers who are fighting a battle against Wall Street elites.

A majority of the ILWU supported the action and honored the pickets.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 9:15 am

It hurt the workers who lost a days pay.

It hurt the passage of vital imports and exports.

I doubt anyone on Wall st even knew about it, let alone gave a crap.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 9:30 am

now that you have descended into the complete absurdity of claiming that Wall Street somehow didn't know about an action reported all over the place that threatened its profits, we are thankfully done

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 9:55 am

was even slightly bothered or affected in any way.

Occupy is attacking workers, policemen, municipalities and almost everyone except the bankers, who are getting ready for their annual bonus season again.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 11:34 am

..you are putting forth yet another stupid claim, this time trying to narrow it to only 'any individual Goldman Sachs stock trader' instead of all of Wall Street.

You are a joke.

Goldman Sachs sweats every time it loses a micro-penny.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 1:19 am

anything that happens in Oakland. Well, maybe the earnings of Clorox, but that's about it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 7:04 am

If they hadn't, The Wall St. Journal's MarketWatch wouldn't have bothered writing about it: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/occupy-protesters-to-continue-port-bloc...

Posted by rebecca on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 10:47 am

the question was whether bankers and traders were personally impacted by this. And I've seen no evidence that they were. Certainly the odd banker and investment guy I know just laughs off the whole thing as irrelevant.

Although I suspect they are happy that the protests are at the doc workers, the police, the city officials and almost everyone EXCEPT the banks.

The movement has lost it's way and it's focus, and you talking it up here doesn't change that at all.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 11:47 am

This is just flat out incorrect.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 7:21 am

"it seems". . . get off your butt and get down there and talk to workers, union folks and truckers and find out for yourself. while you are at it, talk to occupy folks, go to meetings, just observe and make your own decisions. if you don't, your just a parrot and not making any of your own decisions or opinions. maybe you prefer that?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 7:24 am

not entitled to hold an opinion about them?

Er, OK.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 8:27 am

rebecca writes:

A main objective of today's Port of Oakland shutdown -- the second in two months initiated by Occupy Oakland -- was to strike back against the police raids that dismantled their camps.

um, i wonder if the banks got scared in any way by today's actions along the west coast. lemme know if any of the folks behind today's anti-police demo at the Ports need my body and mouth for a same-day coordinated protest on the west coast against big banks.

Posted by MPetrelis on Dec. 12, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

Was this a White's-Only demonstration?

You know, WhiteFolks blocking truckdrivers of color from delivering their goods and getting paid?

Why not shut down the Bank of America building in San Francisco if you want to do something useful?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 10:22 am

Beginning at the 30 second mark of the following video you can see Clarence Thomas, African American leader of the ILWU, talking about the diversity and importance of the port actions.


Take your race baiting somewhere else punk.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 10:48 am

So do we add "of color" to all classifications?

Poets of color.

Journalists of color?

Dockworkers of color?

What a weird and prejudicial world you inhabit.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 11:29 am

Oc people may think they are doing the right thing but if you were to prevent me from doing my job and earning my living to support my family, you would undoubtedly wake up in the hospital.

Posted by Mike on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 10:21 am

It's the US Supreme Court that has said money equals free speech. And their 2009 Citizens United decision ACTUALLY ENCOURAGES corruption because now corporations can legally bribe any politician with as much $ as they want.

The 2008 financial collapse was due to the changing of the rules in 2000 by Congress. Congressmen and women passed it because they were getting lots of campaign contributions from financial corporations (legal bribery). Thus banks were no longer separate from investment banks and that was a big part of the problem.

If the US Supreme Court had not equated $ with free speech (made only worse by Citizens United), Congress couldn't be bought by the highest bidder so they wouldn't do things like what they did in 2000 to satisfy the wishes of Wall St.

Yet I haven't heard of one Occupy Supreme Court movement - they're the real cancer in the system. Until they do, they're completely missing who's really responsible.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

corporations can't vote, can't protest or "Occupy", and can't be politiclaly active. All they can do is use their money to try and restore that inbalance.

And SCOTUS exists to confer balance on a system otherwise subject to electoral whim. And the fact that not everyone likes their decisions is a testament to how difficult their job is and also how important it is.

You can't "occupy" everything you don't personally like. We have elections to achieve change. Sos tand on a platform of abolishing SCOTUS and see how you do.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 5:56 am

I understand the Citizens United decision - any restrictions on how an entity spends $ are unconstitutional. I mentioned corporation but this also frees up really rich people to use their outsized assets to have outsized influence. Thus to allow that is to allow something inherently undemocratic since the size of the assets equals the amount of influence a person or corporation has.

Corporations don't have to be able to vote - that's for the little people. What corporations and really rich folks can do is, in essence, control how a large % of an elected government body will vote on issues because the people in those govt bodies need $ to run their campaigns and outspend their election opponents. So those entities (corps and really rich folks like the Koch bros) that can provide that $ will thus have outsized influence.

There's no balance when it comes to power. It's completely UNBALANCED. That's why we need restrictions on the amount entities can give so that it's not so unbalanced.

When two single people (the Koch bros) can single-handedly decide so many elections such that they control to an extremely large extent what gets passed or not passed in the congress supposedly representing 350 million people, you call that balance???

And this Supreme Court consisting of several corrupt members (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts) encourages this unbalance with decisions like Citizens United and the Arizona public financing decision so you look like a dope when you talk about this Supreme Court representing "balance." Balance my ass - their decisions (due to the 5 appointees of Reagan, and the two George Bushes) are all about keeping the system as UNBALANCED as possible.

This isn't rocket science so no reason to play dumb about what's going on.

No one mentioned abolishing the SC but those members of it responsible for these inherently undemocratic and system-destroying decisions should be getting a lot more flak than they have been from the Occupy movement.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

The voters have numbers and the business entities have compensating funds. Sounds like a fair fight to me.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

Ponder what those "compensating funds" are used for. Hint 1) It's related to "the voters." Hint 2) Big money interests rarely give $ away. I've given you two big clues - see if you can figure it out.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

Everyone tries to work the system to their advantage, including unions.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 7:28 am

That's what results when the amt of $ spent determines election returns and legislation passed or not passed instead of its merits. That's why the Supreme Ct should be targeted since they encourage the corruption you're comfortable with and probably benefit from.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

man, if I had a dime for every comment on these and other blogs about how the Occupy movement is somehow paying attention to the wrong problem and would achieve nirvana if it would just refocus on a different one...

i'd have enough money to buy Wall Street and shut it down...

if these ideas of yours are the key (and indeed some of them may be important)

why don't you take them to the next general assembly and fully participate, instead of sitting at your keyboard pontificating about it...?

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 8:54 am

Working to get a Constitutional amendmt passed is more useful than participating in the Occupy movements which is exactly what I'm doing (working to get the CA passed). Unless the Occupy movements get to the real problem - the buying of our politicians via campaign contributions - they're not gonna get anywhere in addressing the real problem. And the root of the problem are recent (and not so recent) Supreme Court decisions so it's curious there's been no mention of the SC (they must chuckle that they've gotten no blame yet).

Anyone who's looked at the problem at all should know it's the $ given to the politicians that is the root of the problems the Occupy movement is apparently complaining about (though that may or may not be true since what exactly they want hasn't been defined very well though it has vaguely).

I'm not interested in talking to any group of Occupiers because I'd rather spend my time actually doing something about the problem - and that's working to get the above Constitutional amendmt passed. Meetings are going on all around the country in people's houses on that issue and that's where the attention should be put.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

passed is more democratic and relevant than mob rule.

But they are almost never passed, as I am sure you well know. I give you zero chance but applaud that you try using the system to achieve change.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

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Posted by Neonatalnurseschooling.Us on May. 26, 2013 @ 7:15 am

All they can do is have endless "deomcratic" meetings which result in nothing more than a few fuzzy objectives and an agrement to hold more meetings.

Everyone says Occupy is failing because it is unfocused because, well, it's failing because it's unfocused.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 11:07 am

i suppose an organized widespread action like that just happened by osmosis... no one successfully discussed and decided anything...

you live on what planet?

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 11:54 am

But where's the coherent focused strategy that makes Occupy more than just an anarchic mob of the usual suspects, under-employed "activists", petty criminals and hygenically-challenged street urchins?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

down the west coast ports is simple and required no high level coordination and effective organizing...

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

a business entity for a short period like a day. It can't be sustained - that is what would take real organization.

You really need to get a lot more ambitious if you want to have any real effect. And I don't think Occupy can because it is too few people and has too unfocused an agenda.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

'business entity' that can be easily shut down...?

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

be shut down. For a day anyway. So what?

Your ambition is to deprive working people of their pay? Way to go, you self-absorbed asshole.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

now that it has been made clear that your original point is bullshit.

Well guess what? Your new backpedal is of course, also bullshit.

Here's what those working people had to say about the port shut downs:


Longshore Workers:

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2011 @ 10:22 pm