Oakland City Council members are urging city leaders to prevent protesters from shutting down the Port of Oakland again, but Occupy supporters on Friday threatened to strike back against the city’s retaliatory tactics.
Occupy supporters closed down the port on Nov. 2 and Monday, most recently as part of the broader push to shut down all major West Coast ports. The Oakland City Council is expected to vote Monday on a resolution urging city leaders to do whatever they lawfully can to stop protestors from closing the port.
“I think it’s embarrassing for the city, for the mayor, for the ports and for the council to keep saying that we’re not going to let this happen, but then it happens anyway,” said Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente.
Port officials showed clear consternation at the latest in a series of disruptions at Oakland. "We are committed to regaining the confidence of our partners who bring business to Oakland and the region," the port said in a statement.
City leaders estimate the Monday protest cost Oakland’s trade economy about $4 million. The Oakland port and some terminals at the Port of Portland in Oregon were the only sites where operations were significantly hampered by the protests Monday.
Oakland Police Union President Dom Arotzarena told the Council police officers took a nonconfrontational approach to the demonstrators. “We were completely hands-off. At the end of the day, it’s up to the politicians to decide what they want to happen. If they want us to crack down on Occupy, that’s up to them,” he said.
Police at other ports moved relatively quickly to contain and then disperse protests, most of them smaller then the rallies outside Oakland's port gates.
The Occupy movement, which deemed the protest a success, warned in a press release that future retaliatory tactics by “elected officials, global corporations and police goons will only strengthen our resolve to fight back with direct action because we know that another world is possible.”
Occupy supporters said the “Wall Street on the Waterfront” campaign targeted ports as sites of corporate and financial power of the 1 percent. The movement accused multinational corporations and financial institutions engaged in international commerce of affecting the lives of people around the world by “determining the global flows of commodities and capital, to expropriating agricultural lands from indigenous people.”
Port and transportation industry leaders note ports are where the 99 percent find solid, middle-class employment, from six-figure longshore jobs to employment at shipping lines, trucking companies, freight forwarders and numerous service firms in the harbor area.