All maritime operations at the Port of Oakland were shut down on Wednesday evening, November 2, as a result of demonstrations on the part of the “Occupy Oakland” movement, a spinoff from the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York. According to various reports, several thousand protestors blocked the streets of downtown Oakland, forcing numerous businesses to shut their doors, and several banks and at least one retail store were vandalized.
According to the Port of Oakland administrators, “Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so. Safety, security, respect and dignity for everyone remain of paramount importance. We continue to ask that everyone remain calm, respectful, and safe. Specifically, we ask that the marchers allow port workers safe passage home.”
Port employees were sent home early in the afternoon to ensure their safety and the flow of traffic in case there are any public actions impacting the immediate area,” Port administrators said in a statement. The Port also said it is operating its own Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and is participating in the city of Oakland’s EOC as well.
Reacting to the Occupy Oakland’s rallying cry, “We are the 99%” – as opposed to the richest 1% of Americans who the protestors claim are at the root of the United States’ economic problems – Owen Benjamin, Port executive director, and Pamela Calloway, Port president, pointed out that “Port activity generates over 73,000 jobs in the region, and every day we work to create more jobs. From our maintenance staff, to our custodial workers, our truckers, to office workers and dock workers, the Port is where the 99% work.”
Reportedly several dozen longshoremen failed to report to duty on Wednesday. Bob McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, has expressed his solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement; however, the Port of Oakland’s contract expressly forbids them to strike in support of the protestors.
Update: As of Thursday morning, Nov. 3, Port of Oakland adminstrators had provisionally reopened all maritime operations. The Port issued the following statement: “Workers in the maritime area of the Port are beginning to return to their jobs and seaport operations have partially resumed, though the situation remains fluid.”
There were no reports of property damage or major security problems, although there was reportedly a “limited incursion into a private rail facility, and trespassers were escorted off peacefully.”