Long Beach, December 12, 2011 -The West Coast Port Blockade Action in Los Angeles Harbor's Long Beach ports this morning was scheduled for 4:30 AM at Harry Bridges Memorial Park. According to Occupy Media's Lady Libertine, the protest began with "the usual chanting and the usual drumming" as hundreds of Occupy protesters gathered at the Port of Long Beach in an action to shut down commerce by closing off the entry way into the port.
The Port Action was an effort to shut down the major West Coast Ports from Seattle to San Diego and was called by Occupy Oakland in response to the nationwide evictions of Occupy Encampments of which the most recent were Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Philadelphia. Both camps were raided and shut down on November 29th.
The first phase of Monday's Occupy Oakland-led West Coast port shutdown was, by protesters' accounts, a success: Port terminals were shut down in Oakland and in Longview, Washington—the site of an ongoing contract fight with a subsidiary of agri-business giant Bunge. Long Beach, San Diego, and Vancouver, saw protesters blocking access to the three ports for a portion of the morning before police forced them to disperse. Police arrested five demonstrators in San Diego and at least two in Long Beach where around 7 AM, the protesters were met by a blockade that was formed by officers consisting of the Long Beach Police, the Port Authority, with called in back-ups answered by the LAPD, joined later by the California Highway Patrol. With the use of batons across their guards, the blockade proceeded to push forward into the protesters, moving them backward and off of the port completely.
According to Margot Paez, of InsightOut News, "the Long Beach Police Department declared the area an unlawful assembly at around 8:30AM". In the LIVESTREAM video a man's voice is heard clearly from police loudspeakers delivering an eerie warning and threat of "rubber bullets, electronic or chemical weapons and police dogs that would be used to inflict bodily harm" in order to forcibly disperse the crowd if they did not heed the order to cease the [peaceful protest, as well as the the use of their 1st Amendment Rights].
The Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Long Beach protesters proclaimed the action a success despite only shutting down the port temporarily." Paez also adds that the action was accompanied by acts of solidarity in Seattle, Oakland and Alaska where Occupy protesters also moved to close their city ports.
On October 25, the City and the Oakland police tried to violently disperse and shut down Occupy Oakland, seriously wounding an Iraq war vet and Occupy supporter Scott Olsen during the assault. In response, on November 2, Occupy Oakland called upon it's citizens who came in the thousands, at least 20,000 to 30,000 people joined the day-long “General Strike & Mass Day of Action," and they succeeded in shutting down the Port Of Oakland for the entire day.
In Oakland, this morning, protesters exchanged heated words with angry port workers who were anxious to be paid. Among these workers were members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), whose leadership had spoken out in opposition to the shutdown, while the Port Truck Drivers expressed gratitude for the 99%ers in An Open Letter from America’s Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports:
December 12, 2011
...We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day...
We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face...One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11 children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.
We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people.
Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible. Today’s demonstrations will impact us. read more...