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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Port Security: "'Occupy Oakland' Protesters Shut Down Port of Oakland

UPDATE: The Journal of Commerce reports Operations Resume at Oakland as Protest Eases

Original post follows:

Hat tip to Ace

Oakland  Port Area - Main Port at top, by Bay Bridge
'Occupy Oakland' Protesters Clash With Police Following Day Of Protests at Fox News:
Police estimated that a crowd of about 3,000 had gathered at the port at the height of the demonstration around dusk. Some had marched from the city's downtown, while others had been bused to the port.

The demonstrations in Oakland were largely peaceful until the evening skirmish.

The crowd disrupted port operations by overwhelming the area with people and blocking exits with chain-link fencing and illegally parked vehicles. The demonstrators also erected fences to block main streets to the port. No trucks were allowed into or out of the area.

Port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said evening operations had been "effectively shut down."

And later port officials released a statement saying that maritime activity would be cancelled indefinitely, but they hoped to resume the work day Thursday.

"Our hope is that the work day can resume tomorrow and that Port workers will be allowed to get to their jobs without incident," the statement read. "Continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region."
More from the San Francisco Chronicle here::
As many as 7,000 people, by police estimates, clogged the main port entrance on Middle Harbor Road and seven other gates as the sun went down, chanting slogans and halting all truck traffic going in or out.

"Whose port? Our port!" many yelled, while dozens climbed on top of the idled trucks and waved signs.

The few police officers within sight kept a considerable distance while the waterfront took on the air of a combination protest and street carnival, with everyone from office workers to gutter punks standing alongside each other denouncing inequality.
***
"It's a victory," exulted one protester, 21-year-old Oakland art student Umar Shareef. "To get all these people together as one unit is amazing."

Andrez Quintanilla, a 28-year-old truck driver, was trying to drop off a load at the port, but was forced to cool his engines outside the entrance.

"It's good what they're doing," he said. "They're trying to make sure everyone has their rights, but I wish they would let me go. I need to go home."

Occupy Oakland, the activists who have camped outside City Hall for nearly a month, originally targeted the port to show solidarity with union workers embroiled in a dispute in Longview, Wash. But to most of the thousands of protesters who flowed west from around Occupy Oakland's nerve center in Frank Ogawa Plaza, it was a finale to a long day of outrage at the widening economic divisions in America.
Before the "strike," an open letter from the Port of Oakland to the protest groups:

Open Letter to the Community of Oakland from the Port of Oakland
November 1, 2011

These are challenging times, with high unemployment and tremendous uncertainty in the economy. In such times, open, respectful, honest, and informed communication is essential. That is why we are writing to you today.
We understand that Occupy Oakland has voted for a general strike in Oakland tomorrow, November 2, 2011, and further plans to march to the Port of Oakland at 5 PM. We also understand that there will be participation from people who do not live and work in the City of Oakland, which is understandable given the global nature of the Occupy movement. At the same time, this is our home, and it is our responsibility to respect it and ensure that others do too.
It is our privilege, indeed our right in this country, to peacefully assemble and freely express our grievances to government. And it is our responsibility as Oaklanders to ensure that our city is a safe and peaceful place to live and work. Oakland has a long, honorable, and innovative tradition of social justice action. So it is understandable that the citizens of Oakland want to show solidarity with the worldwide movement for economic and social justice. It is also imperative that any and all expressions of protest be effective without being violent. Every individual on all sides of this event must take personal responsibility to ensure peace. Each one of us at the Port is committed to a peaceful and safe march for all involved.
As you may be aware, there are multiple layers of security governing our nation's ports, involving our local police department, regional, and federal agencies. Since becoming aware of the proposed march to the Port, we have been engaged with our public safety and security partners at the local, regional, state, and federal levels of government. We are all emphasizing the need for a peaceful and respectful assembly and expression of free speech.
We at the Port of Oakland understand the frustrations and issues at the heart of the Occupy movement:

We have over $1.4 billion in debt and annual debt service payments of over $100 million a year for the foreseeable future, constraining the jobs we can create and investments we can make.
Economic conditions at the Port have forced us to reduce our workforce by 40% over the last seven years.
Air passenger volume is down over 30% since 2008.
We are operating at just over 50% capacity at our seaport, while there is increasing competition from alternative shipping gateways around the country and the world.

Despite these challenges, Port activity generates over 73,000 jobs in the region, and every day we work to create more jobs. From our maintenance staff, to our custodial workers, our truckers, to office workers and dock workers, the Port is where the 99% work. It is essential for the economic development of the City and region that the perception and reality of Oakland is stability, safety, and inclusion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We hope it will contribute to the civic dialogue that the Occupy movement has initiated. For additional information about the Port, you can also find us on the Internet at www.portofoakland.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Respectfully,

Omar R. Benjamin
Executive Director

Pamela S. Calloway
President
From the Port, the announced plans for 3 Nov 11:
Update from the Port of Oakland and Port-Wide Activity
for Wednesday Nov. 2, 2011 as of 10:30 PM
Oakland, Calif.— November 2, 2011 — The Port of Oakland continues to emphasize the paramount importance of everyone's safety and security.
Based upon the most current information we have from the field, we can report that, as of right now, in the Port area, there have been no injuries, no property damage, and no major security problems.
We want to extend our appreciation to Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan, his officers, and to all of the people who participated in keeping the peace.
However, maritime operations remain effectively shut down, and the Port has been taking steps to help workers in the harbor area get home safely.
Maritime operations will not resume until it is safe and secure to do so.
Our hope is that the work day can resume tomorrow and that Port workers will be allowed to get to their jobs without incident. Continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region.

2 comments:

  1. This stuff happened all the time during the Vietnam War, somebody was always closing down Oakland, so it's pretty much old hat. They just don't have Reagan to call in the Blue Meanies (alameda county Sheriffs) anymore.

    Quite frankly, anyone who can't muster thousands of protestors to march a couple of miles from UC Berkeley is a complete failure as an organizer. It would be fairly easy to get people to protest the fact that the sun rises in the East, rather than the West, there.

    I would imagine that the shipping companies are already looking into re-routing cargo to less troublesome ports. Way to help the working folks of the Bay Area there, Zachary RunningWolf and company.

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  2. Anonymous2:55 PM

    I wonder what effect the widening of the Panama Canal will have on Oakland after this?

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