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article imageWest coast ports are latest target of Occupy movement

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By Lynn Herrmann     Dec 12, 2011 in Politics
Oakland - The Occupy movement is showing new signs of life after police in many U.S. cities raided their camps during the last month, acts which have helped the movement become engaged in new targets, including Monday’s west coast ports in North America.
Thousands are expected to stand in solidarity on Monday with Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters as they take action against “Wall Street on waterfront,” a move OWS is calling a Coordinated West Coast Port Blockade.
The protests began early Monday morning in cities along the west coast, from Vancouver to Los Angeles. “Taking on and blocking the one percent at the port is also taking on the global issue of exploitation by capitalism,” said Occupy Oakland blockade organizer Barucha Peller, the Independent reports.
Blockades are also planned at the Port of Oakland, the Los Angeles-Long Beach port, Seattle, and Tacoma. Monday’s blockades are being called the Occupy movement’s “most dramatic gesture” since the controversial police raids in November.
Early reports indicate ports are experiencing delays in truck traffic, with minor disruptions and no major police clashes yet.
Among those the Occupy protesters hope to join forces with are longshoremen and port truckers they say are a part of the 99 percent being exploited. However, labor leaders have said Occupy is trying to advance its agenda by teaming up with longshoremen.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing thousands of West Coast longshoremen, is attempting to distance itself from the shutdown, with ILWU President Robert McEllrath noting “forces outside of the ILWU” are attempting to adopt union struggles “as their own,” according to an ILWU statement.
“While there can be no doubt that the ILWU shares the Occupy movement’s concerns about the future of the middle class and corporate abuses, we must be clear that our struggle against EGT is just that – our struggle,” MCEllrath said in the statement.
Demonstrators in the waterfront protest are primarily targeting two companies, port operator SSA Marine and grain export giant EGT. SSA Marine gets credit for having Goldman Sachs as a major stakeholder. Goldman Sachs has been a top protest target during the Occupy movement.
Occupy’s shutdown organizers were greeted by a statement from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who urged protestors to consider their actions. “Thousands of people work at the Port of Oakland every day,” Quan said, according to the Associated Press. “Thousands more in agriculture and other industries also depend on the Port of Oakland for their daily wages.”
The Occupy movement could be showing renewed life, thanks in no small part to middle-of-the-night police raids and trigger-happy-pepper-spraying security personnel. In its 2012=1968? feature, New York Magazine reports, while there are several factions behind-the-scenes within the OWS movement, there is a growing consensus among the group’s central players that, as the protests enter the winter months, next spring’s protests will be larger in scale and just as importantly, focused “with a vengeance” as the U.S. enters the presidential election prime time.
Discussions are already underway among Occupy organizers regarding Democratic and Republican conventions. New York Magazine notes the OWS leaders are now united toward a single cause:
turning OWS from a brief shining moment into a bona fide movement.
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