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Intro: "Reporting from Oakland, Seattle and Long Beach - Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters blocked access to several major West Coast ports Monday in synchronized demonstrations that slowed business but fell short of what some protesters hoped would be a complete shutdown of coastal shipping."

Protesters square off against police at the Port of Long Beach in one of several West Coast demonstrations. (photo: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)
Protesters square off against police at the Port of Long Beach in one of several West Coast demonstrations. (photo: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)



Occupy Protesters Block West Coast Ports

By Lee Romney, Kim Murphy and Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

13 December 11

 

Demonstrators fail to shut down most shipping business. Rain in some areas hampered turnout.

housands of Occupy Wall Street protesters blocked access to several major West Coast ports Monday in synchronized demonstrations that slowed business but fell short of what some protesters hoped would be a complete shutdown of coastal shipping.

The protests stretched from San Diego to Anchorage, brought work to a standstill in Oakland and Longview, Wash., and led to the closure of a major marine terminal in Portland, Ore. Demonstrators caused smaller disruptions in Seattle and in Long Beach, where a driving rain and threats of arrest put a damper on an early morning picket line.

In many cities, protesters targeted terminals operated by SSA Marine, a shipping company that is locked in a labor dispute with some port truckers, and is partly owned by Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Others complained that the port protests hurt the working- and middle-class wage-earners the Occupy movement purports to represent.

In Oakland, where shipping terminal operators decided not to call workers in for a scheduled evening shift after a morning of protests, Mayor Jean Quan implored demonstrators to "respect the rights of the 99%" working at the port.

Occupy Oakland protesters successfully shut down the port on Nov. 2 in a boisterous demonstration that involved about 10,000 people. Monday's crowd peaked at several thousand.

Demonstrators claim that withholding labor sends a strong message to the 1% and is a meaningful way for the movement to telegraph its power and potential. A number of truckers who lost their day's wages, however, expressed anger that the decision was made without them.

Two shipping facilities in Portland closed early in the day when about 200 protesters marched in at dawn, setting up a tent and portable toilets. Occupy Portland organizer David Osborn said many port workers refused to cross their picket lines.

One protester waved a sign that apologized for the delay: "Sorry for any inconvenience while we fix our democracy."

The protests affected at least five ships and hundreds of trucks poised to load or offload goods at the docks, said Josh Thomas, a spokesman for Portland's shipyards.

Southern California protesters made a much smaller dent with their demonstration in Long Beach, where about 300 protesters gathered at 5 a.m. outside the SSA terminal.

For about 30 minutes, protesters blocked a roadway to an SSA pier, snarling traffic until police wielding batons ushered them into a nearby park. Protester Ami Todd was among them.

Todd said she thinks Occupy Wall Street appeals to a larger audience than anti-globalization protests of the 1990s because more Americans now are suffering financial hardships. "In the '90s I had a job, I had healthcare," she said, citing two things she no longer can claim.

In Seattle police used pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse protesters at the port there, where several hundred anti-corporate demonstrators briefly blockaded a major shipping terminal and then swarmed toward another. Port officials said the demonstration had minimal effect on port operations because most goods had been moved earlier in the day.

On Monday a spokesman for SSA Marine said it had been inaccurately portrayed by the Occupy movement, adding the majority of the company is family-owned, not held by Goldman Sachs.

"They're also claiming that we are unfair to our workers," said SSA Vice President Bob Watters. "We are the largest employer of ILWU members on the West Coast. We are a union shop, and we're proud we're providing them with family-wage jobs."

See Also: See Also: An Open Letter from America's Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports

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+9 # DPM 2011-12-13 15:17
99% are already suffering under the thumb of the 1% and it will only get worse. If we allow complaints of "You're only hurting your own." to stop us, then we'll never succeed. We may have to pay a little more of a price for our freedom, but we'll make the 1% start paying, too. And, continue paying. Auto and steel workers and miners never got anything "easily" and neither will we. The rich and powerful won't give up anything until they are "bloodied" over and over and over again! Occupy! Occupy!! OCCUPY!!!
 
 
-7 # sawatchboy 2011-12-13 15:41
I live in Seattle. The first I heard of this I thought, "Who thought this was a good idea?" All it can do is drive a wedge between what has been up to this point a well received movement and working people like longshoremen and truck drivers. Bad idea! And the interviews after the protests in Seattle and in Longview support my contention. Regular working complained about not being able to just go to work. Think before you act!
 
 
+7 # Kootenay Coyote 2011-12-13 17:31
Docks in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, were also Occupied.
 

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