Questions are being asked by those affected as to why they, the 99%, should be made to suffer for the greed and incompetence of the 1%. Even some Occupy activists are reportedly concerned that their actions are too confrontational with a potential for violence, detracting from Occupy’s stated intention of narrowing the chasm between rich and poor.
“Support is one thing,” Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union, wrote to his members last week. “Outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another and one that is destructive to our democratic process.”
The Occupy Wall Street movement is engaged in planned protests against ports on the West Coast used by Walmart and Goldman-Sachs that has a 3% minority interest in SSA Marine, one of Oakland’s terminal operators. It had called for “Shutdown Wall Street on the Waterfront” protests, hoping the day of demonstrations would cut into the profits of the corporations that run the docks and send a message that their movement was not over.
A few hundred protesters took part in the Oakland action and they reportedly blocked trucks from entering the Port through at least two entrances. The longshoremen’s union said it sympathised with the goals of the movement but disagreed with shutting down operations that deprived 200 of its members a day’s wages.
As might be expected, blocked truck drivers were less than happy with the situation, arguing that the demonstrators were harming the very people they were trying to help. Reported comments ranged from: “I have to go without pay while somebody else has something to say that I’m not really sure is relevant to the cause,” to “The 1% cargo doesn’t come in here. The caviar comes in from Russia first class, not on a slow boat from China.”
Police in Seattle used “flash-bang” percussion grenades to disperse protesters who blocked an entrance to a Port of Seattle and eleven demonstrators were arrested. Officers moved in after Occupy Seattle protesters tried to set up a makeshift barrier near the entrances to two terminals, using scraps of wood and aluminum debris.
In Portland, around 200 hundred protesters blocked trailers from making deliveries at two terminals and in Anchorage, Alaska protesters showed solidarity with their West Coast counterparts by focusing on port issues.
Operations at the Port of Oakland returned yesterday (Tuesday) according to port officials, who said there was a large backlog of work.
Flushed with the success of their blockages, some Occupy Wall Street protesters plan to continue their blockades and keep staging similar protests despite requests to stop because they’re hurting wage earners. Protests are reportedly still scheduled to take place at the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Houston.