Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Occupy Movement Temporarily Curtails West Coast Port Traffic

The Occupy movement’s one-day action to disrupt the flow of container traffic at seaports on the West Coast of North America led to slowed, although not completely halted, cargo movement at multiple locations.

One of the most visibly affected was the Port of Oakland, North America’s third-largest seaport, where more than 1,000 marchers blocked multiple terminals at various points during the day, including two APL-run locations and a Hanjin terminal.

The Oakland protest even spilled over into the following day, as more than 100 Occupy demonstrators continued to march and attempt to block drayage truck drivers from entering and exiting terminals. No incidents of violence were reported.

Port operations in Oakland continued Tuesday “with minimal disruptions” due to still-ongoing protests, according to communications manager Robert Bernardo.

In Portland, the port shut down two terminals and police arrested two people who were found with a gun and sword.

After the early morning incident, terminals 5 and 6 were closed, and more than 300 workers were told not to report to work for the day.

Occupy Portland spokesperson Kari Koch said the two who were arrested were not part of the movement’s protest.

During the demonstration, terminals 4, 5 and 6 were targeted as part of a campaign against grain exporter EGT and SSA Marine, which is partially owned by Goldman Sachs, one of the Occupy movement’s targets.

At the Port of Seattle, 11 demonstrators were arrested on Harbor Island during a sometimes-violent mid-afternoon protest that included people throwing items at police and law enforcement pepper spraying unruly crowd members.

The total number of participants was estimated by local media at more than 500, many of whom demonstrated at terminals 5 and 18.

Although there were reports that the evening shifts at the two terminals were disrupted, the port said in a statement that the impact to cargo movement was “minimal.”

At the Port of Long Beach, heavy rain throughout the morning may have curtailed the number of demonstrators, as only an estimated 300 people showed up for a 6 am protest at Pier J, where they were met by a police blockade.

About an hour after gathering at a dock facility owned by SSA Marine, police ordered the protesters to disperse and began a long, slow process of marching in column formation toward the crowd in order to move it away from the terminal.

At least one arrest was made, but no violent incidents were reported. The protesters managed to block employee parking areas, but did not block trucks according to police. According to the port, all terminals remained open during the day and the protest had concluded by 10 am.

Occupy the Ports protests were also conducted at ports in Hueneme, California; Longview, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and San Diego, among other places.