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PORTSIDE  November 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE November 2011, Week 1


Occupy Oakland protests and shuts port: 2 articles


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Thu, 3 Nov 2011 19:41:18 -0400





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Occupy Oakland : Two articles

1. Protesters rally in Oakland, shut port operations
Wed, Nov 2 2011

2. Occupy Oakland Shuts Port as Unions
Hustle to Keep Up November 3, 2011

Protesters rally in Oakland, shut port operations
Wed, Nov 2 2011 

By Dan Levine and Noel Randewich


OAKLAND, Calif (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters shut
down operations at Oakland's port and blocked traffic
on Wednesday to rally against economic inequality and
police brutality in demonstrations marred by scattered

The protest fell short of paralyzing the northern
California city that was catapulted to the forefront of
national anti-Wall Street protests after a former
Marine was badly wounded during a march and rally last

But as evening fell, an official said maritime
operations at the Oakland port, which handles about $39
billion a year in imports and exports, had been
"effectively shut down" by the thousands of marchers.

"At this time, maritime operations are effectively shut
down at the Port of Oakland. Maritime area operations
will resume when it is safe and secure to do so," the
port said in a written statement.

Port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said, however, that some
activity may continue at the port, which was typically
slower in the evening than during the day.

Protesters, who streamed across a freeway overpass to
gather in front of the port gates, stood atop
tractor-trailers stopped in the middle of the street.

Others climbed onto scaffolding over railroad tracks as
a band played a version of the Led Zeppelin song "Whole
Lotta Love," using amplifiers powered by stationary
bike generators.

The anti-Wall Street activists, who complain bitterly
about a financial system they believe benefits mainly
corporations and the wealthy, had aimed to disrupt
commerce with a special focus on banks and other
symbols of corporate America.

Other than the port and several downtown Oakland bank
branches and stores that closed, schools and most
businesses remained open and commerce largely carried
on as usual.

"A lot of the small businesses actually have closed,"
protest organizer Cat Brooks said, describing her view
of a response to a call for a general strike.

The demonstrations centered at Frank Ogawa Plaza
adjacent to city hall, scene of a tug-of-war last week
between police who cleared an Occupy Oakland encampment
there and protesters who sought to return, and
ultimately succeeded in doing so.

Protesters also blocked the downtown intersection of
14th street and Broadway, where ex-Marine Scott Olsen
was wounded during a clash with police on the night of
October 25.

Windows were smashed at several Oakland banks and a
Whole Foods market, with pictures of the damage posted
on Twitter.


Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said a group
of 60 to 70 people he described as anarchists were
responsible for the damage while the bulk of the
protesters, a crowd he estimated at 4,500 people, had
remained peaceful.

Few uniformed police officers were spotted at the
rallies, but Jordan said that demonstrators would not
be allowed to march beyond the gates of the port.

Local labor leaders, while generally sympathetic to the
protesters, said their contracts prohibited them from
proclaiming an official strike. Craig Merrilees, a
spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse
Union, said about 40 of 325 unionized port workers had
stayed off the job.

"There was no call for a strike by the union," he said.

Port employees were sent home at 3:30 p.m., the port
spokesman Kos-Read said, ahead of the planned port

Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint
said more than 300 teachers stayed home, most of those
having made formal requests the night before.

"We did have to scramble a little bit to cover the
extra absences," Flint said, adding that some classes
were combined but that no students were left

He said some students also missed school for the
protests but "we haven't heard of major absences beyond
the norm."

Other residents like Rebecca Leung, 33, who works at an
architectural lighting sales company, went about their
ordinary activities. Leung said she generally supported
the protests.

"I don't really feel striking is necessary. I work for
a small company, I don't work for Bank of America," she

The owner of a flower shop near the plaza, meanwhile,
said that the weeks of noisy rallies and ongoing
encampment had only served to hurt his small business.

"Business has not been the same. Everything has gone
downhill around here, the noise, the ambience and the
customers," the man, who identified himself as Usoro,
told Reuters. "I can't afford to close down."

It was the wounding of Olsen, a former Marine turned
peace activist who suffered a serious head injury
during protests last week, that seemed to galvanize
protesters and broadened their complaints to include
police brutality.

He remains in an Oakland hospital in fair condition.

Protest organizers say Olsen, 24, was struck by a tear
gas canister fired by police. Acting Police Chief
Jordan opened an investigation into the incident but
has not said how he believes Olsen was wounded.

Elsewhere, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told
Wall Street protesters he would take action if
circumstances warranted, saying that the encampments
and demonstrations were "really hurting small
businesses and families."

In downtown Seattle, about 300 rain-soaked protesters
blocked the street outside the Sheraton hotel where
Jamie Dimon, chief executive of the biggest U.S. bank,
JPMorgan Chase & Co, was scheduled to speak at an event
organized by the University of Washington's school of

Earlier in the day, five protesters were arrested for
trespassing after chaining themselves to fixtures
inside a Chase bank branch, the Seattle Police
Department said.

In Los Angeles, several hundred protesters marched
through downtown in solidarity with their counterparts
in Oakland.

In Virginia, protesters sought alarm whistles at their
encampment in a public park in Charlottesville because
women were concerned about their safety overnight.

"You're seeing people who don't really care about the
Occupy movement, who are doing their own thing," Zac
Fabian, a spokesman for Occupy Charlottesville, said.
"Safety is an issue at night when we have every drunk
person in the area strolling by and threatening to
start fights or burn down tents."

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Mary Slosson,
Emmett Berg, Matthew Ward and Bill Rigby; Writing by
Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia


Occupy Oakland Shuts Port as Unions
Hustle to Keep Up 

Eduardo Soriano-Castillo | 

November 3, 2011

[A massive "day of action" in Oakland closed businesses
in the city's downtown core and halted traffic at the
nation's fifth-largest port. Unions hustled to rally
members, building a healthy response for the first
occupy action where success required other
organizations to mobilize. Photo: Adam Hefty.]

A massive "day of action" in Oakland closed businesses
in the city's downtown core and halted traffic at the
nation's fifth-largest port.

About 7,000 marchers took part, mainly occupiers and
other folks marginalized by an out-of-whack economic
system and drawn to participate with the rest of the 99

Union members--Oakland teachers, SEIU home health care
aides and service workers, public sector workers, NUHW
nurses, CWA Verizon workers, Teamster drivers, UAW grad
students, and Laborers--came out in smaller but
noticeable numbers.

The unions had just a week to activate members in
response to the call from Occupy Oakland to walk out,
in protest of a police raid on the encampment last week
that left protester and Iraq war vet Scott Olsen
hospitalized with a fractured skull.

Although the demonstration was far short of the general
strike called for by the occupiers, the response was
healthy for the first action where success required
other organizations to mobilize.

"My union called for member participation," said David
Norris, a fourth-grade teacher at Acorn Woodland in
Oakland, one of about 300 teachers to skip work
yesterday. "Teachers are under attack and that means
our students are under attack." The Oakland Education
Association urged members to join the protest after

SEIU Local 1021, the mammoth public sector union,
dispatched member organizers to its worksites to
motivate members. It sent out robocalls encouraging
members to participate. At the Laborers' hiring halls,
the union directed members toward the mobilization if
there was no work for them that day.

"I realize that the reason I don't always have work,
like today, is because the banks ran us into the
ground," said Laborer Kevin Smith. "I'm unemployed,
frustrated, and mad like everyone should be if you're
in the bottom of the 99 percent."

Unions have been helping pay for toilets, food, hay for
the muddy encampment, and bottled water. The
Communications Workers paid for Occupy Oakland placards
and the Alameda Central Labor Council fed occupiers on
the day of action. Shutting Banks, Sharing Stories

Cultural, political, and community groups like Causa
Justa/Just Cause and Alliance of Californians for
Community Empowerment led 1,000 on a march snaking
between Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo. "We
were planning to occupy these banks but when they saw
the size of the wave heading their way they locked
themselves in," said Nell Myhand, a member of Just

The bank protesters proceeded to furnish the street
with a couch and other furniture where they sat and
shared stories about home loss and being taken
advantage of by predatory lending and toxic home loans.

"To me this looks like a mass movement and as
unionists--and part of the 99 percent--we must support
it," said Herb Klar, a social worker in the Kaiser
Permanente hospital chain and an NUHW member.

The sunny day started with large crowds of activists
that were as diverse as they were energetic. From kids
to old folks, the camp was bustling with activity as
people made signs, prepared meals, engaged in political
discussions, and danced to a DJ.

The occupiers were joined by 300 parents with a
children's brigade, 200 students from UC Berkeley, and
an anti-capitalist contingent that vandalized a Whole
Foods store and broke bank windows.

As the hours passed the encampment swelled. By 3 p.m.
the "Share Your Story" tent was covered with hundreds
of stories ranging from the student deep in debt to
teachers facing the hardships of teaching in
overcrowded classrooms with gutted budgets to folks
facing foreclosure. Blockades at the Port

Longshore workers with ILWU Local 10 had announced
earlier in the week that if Occupy Oakland put down
pickets they would honor them.

Because of contract terms, the union asked members to
go to work and join the occupiers in the evening. But
about 40 longshoremen showed up to the hall in the
morning and refused to take work, effectively slowing
work at the port. Non-union port truck drivers were
backed up for miles.

The occupiers shut the port completely when they
converged there at 7 p.m. The march leading to the port
seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, with
dancing, chanting, and bikers intermingling. Marching
bands and portable sound systems helped activists keep
a steady pace.

Groups of about 200-300 stopped at each port gate and
set up blockades. Protestors climbed train light
towers, hung banners, and physically blocked port
trucks from entering.

The scene was electric as protestors realized that they
indeed had the numbers needed to shut it down.

The port asked protesters to let workers leave to go
home, and ILWU officials said night-shift workers
wouldn't try to make it through the barricades.

As the night wore on, a sort of block party broke out,
with younger protesters blockading both sides of the
street with burning trash bins. When they broke into a
building for an impromptu party, police arrested about

"As long as we can steer away from the street fighting
and not get too narrow with our demands, this movement
will keep going," said Peter Olney of ILWU. "The occupy
movement represents a reawakening. We're just trying to
keep up here."


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