Occupy Oakland takes over Port of Oakland: photos

Occupy Oakland demonstrators sit on top of a trailer truck outside the Port of Oakland during the Occupy movements' attempts to shut down West Coast ports in Oakland, California on Monday, December 12, 2011. OWS activists trying to shut down West Coast ports on Monday managed to close several terminals and encountered forceful responses from police, but fell short of mounting the full-scale cargo blockade they planned. Below, an Occupy Oakland demonstrator wears a tent and an "Anonymous" mask during the action. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)


        1. I’m not exactly sure how to respond to that, so I’m just going to leave this here and see if you can put the pieces together.

          1. Oh, I thought bingo was adding to the irony. If so, the responses add yet more irony, which is ironic. Or is it?

  1. I support the Occupy movement, but I gotta say I’m not sure trying to shut down the ports is what I would have thought of as the Next Logical Step.  It just seems like the ones this will hurt most are the port workers, truck drivers, ship pilots– you know, the 99%?  Maybe I’m wrong, but if you’re trying to hurt the multinational corporations and oligarchs, I think the banks are a much better target.  

    1. Port of Houston Authority Alec Dreyer resigned today. Just one day after the #D12 event in Houston. We shut down one set of gates at the port for three hours right near the Port Authority office, Dreyer resigns. Coincidence? I don’t think so.  We bagged him. VICTORY! How’s that for targeting an oligarch?

      That red tent thing was scary. There was no gas, contrary to rumors. Officers in the tent had no gas masks. But the tent scared the crap out of everyone. I think that was the intention. Almost everyone on the ramp is still in jail. No report back from legal that much excessive force happened in the tent. I think the tent was half psyops (it worked) and half a way to keep the firefighters cutting apart the lock boxes linking the blockaders from being distracted while they used their saws. There should be an official press release when more people get out of jail tomorrow.

      This was the wildest freakiest day of my life, thank you Occupy. And thank you HPD for being a crafty and worthy foe.

      1. Yeah, probably had nothing to do with the county attorney’s investigation of him that took most of this year.

        1.  Yeah, Dreyer had been on the ropes for a while. I think we put forth so major an effort that he just said “Screw it, I quit”. Our direct action was big enough that it discouraged him rather than making him bolder. Dreyer is gone. We tipped the balance.

          We considered assembling at the San Jacinto Battleground and hitting Morgan’s Point, a bigger terminal with a better choke point, and we could have shut down the Lynchburg Ferry, but that was too far from downtown and would have put us up against PAPD and DHS. Striking next to Dreyer’s office worked. And a few Occupiers went to the Port Authority public comment meeting Tuesday morning at eight. Mondays radical action and Tuesday’s comment meeting broke him. We Won

          On D12, DHS stormtroopers with their Han Solo thigh holsters watched us from the top of the levee behind their perimeter fence. They stayed for about 30 minutes and did not attempt to intervene.

          1. Your optimism in the face of contradicting evidence is refreshing.  Most people would give up trying to take credit for something someone else did.

          2. Right, and what about the lost wages you cost those people who need to feed their families. Way to win over the hearts and minds, just so you can play activist jock.

    2. It’s not something you would have thought of as the Next Logical Step because… you think that every historical success of labour has come from drum circles in a park?

      1. I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are you implying that OWS attempting to blockade the ports was an attempt to help organized labor? The people who can most help organized labor are the laborers themselves. If they are picketing, by all means go down there and join them. (Better yet, ask them how you can help.) This nonsense, in Oakland and what Incipient Madness is talking about up there, is the definition of not helping.

        1. Then why did almost all of the truckers honk and wave as they were diverted from the gates when we were up on the earthworks of the 610 bridge?

          We tried to enlist the help of the Seafarers and Teamsters. They said they could not decline to cross our picket unless they were in contract negotiations. They were not in negotiations, so they wouldn’t help us block the port. But they sure honked in support as they drove by.

          You weren’t there. You do not know what happened. I was not in Oakland, which was a much bigger action at a smaller port. I do not know how labor feels about what happened there. I am impressed by what they were able to do. We were a smaller group at a bigger port.  Even so, we shut down a set of gates for 2-3 hours and truckers loved it.

  2. Shutting down a port, staffed mainly by low-wage workers is misguided at best.  Just more inane hooliganism brought to you by the lovely city of Oakland.  I’m also eagerly anticipating the day when these impassioned dolts actually figure out what Guy Fawkes was all about (hint–it wasn’t fashionable masks or oligarchs).  Just rubbish all around.

    1.  They’ll still have jobs next week and some of them will score overtime.  Occupy the West Coast and #D12 Houston (Was there a bigger event outside of the west coast bigger than this? I’d like to read about it) mostly gave some truckers extra pay.

      I was up on the earthworks of the 610 bridge in Houston for part of #D12. Almost every trucker honked in support.  They rubbernecked and then HPD shut down the right lane for a while. Christmas bonus.

      1. Most OTR truckers are NOT paid hourly (or a salary). They are usually paid on delivery, so the more they can move and the quicker they can get in and out the better off they are financially.

    2. Huh. Port workers are not generally low paid. Some are, but lots of them are not. That said, “closing” the ports was silly and stupid. It proved . . . well, nothing. Closing one gate for three hours? Huh. Apparently you know NOTHING about logistics if you think that is worthwhile.

  3. I’m confused – why are we blocking ports? Does this include our exports as well as our imports?  I understand protesting the banks etc – but I am not sure what one is hoping to accomplish blocking ports?

    1. Yeah, I’m not quite getting it either. I was with (ideologically) OWS up until this. A bunch of longshoreman either couldn’t get to work (no pay for that day) or sent home early (no pay for lost hours). I’m not sure how this is sticking it to the man.

  4. I have no idea what they are trying to achieve by this.
    A friend works for a small manufacturing company which relies on delivery of raw materials on schedule. No raw materials – no work. No work – no pay (just before christmas). Also, in the current climate, if there’s enough disruption, the company could lose customers and go under.
    “Occupy” shutting down ports is just stupid.

      1. I think that’s right. It all rather reminds me of Father Ted and Father Dougal having placards reading “Down with this sort of thing” and “Careful now”. They’re cross about something but it seems like the detail is eluding them.

    1. I have a friend who works as a janitor for Goldman Sachs.  I have another friend who works as a maid at a CEO’s mansion.  I have another friend who bartends at an exclusive club for the ultra-rich. *

      If you inconsiderate Occupiers have their way, they’ll all be out of a job!  Oh, and need I remind you that my friends are part of the 99%?  And that they have families to feed?  With lots of cute little children and puppies, all of whom have cancer and are orphans?  Didn’t think of that, did you?  To busy fighting for economic justice and democracy to think about some cherry-picked examples, eh?

      Lower class people are held hostage by the economic elite.  “If anything happens to us” they threaten, “All these poor people are gonna suffer!”.  They are like terrorists, using our fear of what might happen to one of us to keep us all obedient to their demands.  But as any red-blooded American knows, that’s no way to deal with terrorists.  You don’t shrug and grant their demands, you don’t negotiate with them and hope for mercy.  That just makes them stronger, emboldens them for their next plot.  You destroy them, or at least their capacity to threaten anybody ever again.  And economic terrorists are less scary, because they don’t kill the hostages, they just rob them.  So even if some people get robbed, we can still take care of them and make sure they’re ok.  Especially if we win.

      * not really, but you get the idea

  5. This is why the political left has mostly kept their hands quite clear of this “movement”, the same with the anti-globalization movement in the 1990’s and the anti-war protests in the 2000’s.  Forty years of left wing protests have shown most of us that they’re pretty much run by idiots who end up shooting us all in the feet.  

    These morons could be out there helping to organize for a progressive politician working against Wall Street like say, Elizabeth Warren.  Or helping to phone bank for the Walker recall.  Or helping with ballot measures to address any number of things that are hurting the middle class.  Or even just marching up and down K-Street and outside Congress, doing something to bring attention to the influence buying that goes on.  Hell, they could go do something totally improbable and unlikely to succeed, like organizing around a constitutional amendment fixing the Citizen’s United decision…  

    But no.  They’re shutting down ports, shitting all over one of the last bastions of unionized labor in the country, and one of the few places where blue collar workers can still make a decent living.  Morans.  Seriously.

    1. Hm, why are the ports “one of the few places where blue collar workers can still make a decent living.”?

      Oh yeah, it’s because port workers have demonstrated the capacity to bring commerce to a standstill by shutting down the ports!  Workers get decent wages when they have a strong negotiating position.  A strong negotiating position derives from being able to make a threat that is both serious and credible.  “We will shut down your ports, causing disruption to your supply chain” is a serious threat.  Actions like just happened make it a credible threat.

  6. This is stupid.
    This is counter productive.
    This is wrong.
    The 99% attacking the 99%.
    The 1% are laughing.

  7. OWS is a global movement, and it ought to consider global perception of it. Ten thousand truckers could honk ten thousand honks of support, and it would mean doodley-squat. The truckers are not getting out of their trucks.

    I don’t see a clear cause>effect relationship between shutting down ports and holding plutocrats accountable for hijacking government and wrecking the economy. Neither will most people who hear of this action, particularly headline skimmers, regardless of whether there’s some hidden link there that I’m missing. I don’t think that there is, and this action will do more damage to the movement than any external force has been able to so far. Such is my prediction.

    Like a lot of OWS supporters, I’m overeducated and unemployed through no fault of my own, and my future feels more precarious than it ever has. I’m as angry as anyone. But this action leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    1. OK. Those reasons are mostly idiotic. Frankly, the unions on each coast have been WAY more effective at pushing their interests than Occupy ever has been. Pretty sure they will continue to be.

      If you want to protest someone undercutting the port workers, protest against the port that opened near Vancouver (Prince Rupert) and some of the port facilities being developed in Mexico.

      1. OK. Those reasons are mostly idiotic.

        Which reasons and why?  Or did you even bother to actually read the linked content?

        What’s the point of your rhetoric?  Why are you here?  Your message seems muddled.

  8. I see a lot of comments saying how stupid, misguided, counterproductive, and damaging to the hard-working port employees the shutdown is, and I wondered about that myself until I read the following column, written by four truckers, thanking the occupiers and describing the working conditions of ‘independent’ truckers who contract with the giant shipping companies that deliver to these ports and are generally shit on by the ports themselves: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/12/12/an-open-letter-from-port-truck-drivers-about-todays-attempted-shut-down

    Here’s a taste :

    “Just like Wall Street doesn’t have to abide by rules, our industry isn’t bound to regulation. So the market is run by con artists. The companies we work for call us independent contractors, as if we were our own bosses, but they boss us around. We receive Third World wages and drive sweatshops on wheels. We cannot negotiate our rates. (Usually we are not allowed to even see them.) We are paid by the load, not by the hour. So when we sit in those long lines at the terminals, or if we are stuck in traffic, we become volunteers who basically donate our time to the trucking and shipping companies. That’s the nice way to put it. We have all heard the words “modern-day slaves” at the lunch stops.

    There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go.

    The companies demand we cut corners to compete. It makes our roads less safe. When we try to blow the whistle about skipped inspections, faulty equipment, or falsified logs, then we are “starved out.” That means we are either fired outright, or more likely, we never get dispatched to haul a load again.”

    So there’s more to it than the occupiers screwing with blue-collar livelihoods and interfering with commerce.

    1. I think at minimum they have failed to provide a strong enough message about what they are trying to accomplish with this fairly specific action.

      I’m a regular listerner to KPFA here in san francsico which has very good protest movement and union contacts and spends a lot of time covering the various protest movements and I heard half a dozen fairly tenuous explanations for why the protestors were shutting down ports.

      Solidarity with longshoremen (who seem very tepid toward this action, though it won’t hit them economically much as the same amount of cargo will still eventually be transferred).
      Solidarity with the truckers (who seem more supportive).
      Punishing goldman sachs through some oakland port company the own (a 1-2 day shutdown won’t do much to the shipping company).
      Punishing job off-shorers (ok if you made just in time shipping less reliable over the long term or shut it down for a week… maybe).

      I think there were a couple more too.

      1. re: “Punishing goldman sachs through some oakland port company the own (a 1-2 day shutdown won’t do much to the shipping company).”

        LOL – if it won’t do much to a shipping company, how is it going to do much to Goldman Sachs??????

    2. Eh… that’s still a pretty lame reason to block ports. Truck drivers don’t like their conditions can strike – that makes a lot of sense. (Around here, drivers are still needed and switching employers isn’t a big deal. Maybe CA is different.)

      Blocking a port doesn’t make sense. It sorta screws the people running the port, but it really screws the people down the line waiting for the materials and goods they are importing (or exporting). The small to medium sized businesses rely on said goods to either sell or materials to make new items.  Disrupting the distribution chain too much is going to lead to repercussions felt by those small businesses and their employees.

      1. Ya know, I’ve heard this trope a lot over this sort of issue, ‘won’t somebody think of the poor small business owners…’ I get that to a degree but then again I’d like to share with you a recipe for an omelet. First crack some eggs, second wisk, third pour into pan and then add some tasty bits, cook, fold, serve. In this analo… uh recipe the first thing you have to do is break some eggs and from there it’s pretty easy to make a tasty dish with the sort of ingredients one likes, such as honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, regulation… oh oops there I go trying to make an omelet for the people when really all we need is the same-old plain-ass toast we’ve been making for years. Sure it makes the mouth dry and leaves you wanting for some water but over all it’s really not that bad is it? Oh, you want some jelly with that. No way, can’t have it because it would disrupt the order of things and that just will not do. Now go eat yer feckin toast and be glad you got any at all.

        Sans subtlety: The small business owners, while more or less in the same boat, still have it a little bit to a lot better than people out there that don’t own a damn thing let alone a small business. Now I’m not saying we need to take their shit to make our omelet (they should be happy to lend us a hand in making it any way) but most of these ‘small business owners’ will be fine for now and will likely continue to be fine. Sure there will be a few that don’t do so well but then again any sort of business endeavour has failure written in as an option from day one. And if you can’t handle a little hiccup every now and then maybe running a business just isn’t your thing anyway. And at the end of the line, when the govt, economy and all the other bits and bobs that go into making this world work are aligned more towards the benefit of people (not profit) then everybody will be more secure, happy and motivated. Which in turn will make everybody even more happy, secure and motivated. That’s how the system is supposed to work. It doesn’t now. And in order to fix it we will need to crack a few eggs.

  9. Yea, have to agree.  OWS seems to have drifted off target on this one.

    Oakland trying to hit the shipping company owned partly by goldman sachs makes some sense, but san francisco with big banks and hedge fund offices is just a BART ride away.  Why not surround those if you want to irritate “wall street”?  Or just go wander around in a neighborhood of $5 million dollar houses (berkley hills, various SF neighborhoods)?

  10. I love how all the haters can’t think of any reasons to do this, didn’t bother to look into why the occupiers SAID they were doing this, and decided there was no reason at all.  Thank you Cowicide and nowayjose for providing some actual, real context and Incipient Madness for a first-hand account.  I’m not sure how I feel about the action but I’ll make a better decision about how I should feel about it by reading the stated intentions of the occupiers who were actually involved than just by leaping to whatever conclusions support my pre-existing biases.

    1. Any statement that begins with “I love how all the haters…” shouldn’t lecture about “…pre-existing biases.” Just because you didn’t research why OWS was shutting the ports doesn’t mean “the haters” hadn’t read the OWS’ reasons and formed their own opinions about the shutdown.

  11. Occupying the ports did start as an act of solidarity with the Longview chapter of the ILWU against EGT.

    I don’t know the extent to which this is true in other chapters but I was hearing that there were splits between ILWU members and their leaders over not taking Longview’s stance. I know Occupy Boston has no plans to do any port shutdowns without being invited by labour.

  12. Fuck yeah man.  Wish I had been there.

    When Rosa Parks refused to get up, there were probably some hard working, honest, poor people that were late to their second jobs.  And some of them probably thought, “Right the fuck on,” when they saw her do it.

  13. In summation: cubicle dwellers support truck drivers and dock workers, whether they want it or not.

    1.  Occupy demands and goals are up on every Occupy site.

      But I think it is better that people do not focus on what we want. Chaos,  confusion, and the pure assertion of power through our rights of speech and assembly are enough for now.

      We are unstoppable because they don’t know what we want. We don’t know what we want. It does not matter.

      We assemble, we petition, and sometimes we fight. The mere fact that ordinary Americans would stand and fight in accord with their Constitutional rights is itself the message.

      Occupy is not about goals and demands, it is about the pure assertion of the power of the people.

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