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Oakland Port Blockaded by 1000 Tonight

By Zach Farmer (BCN)
Monday December 12, 2011 - 06:06:00 PM

More than 1,000 protesters are descending on the Port of Oakland this evening as part of a daylong effort to shut down the port. 

Occupy Oakland protesters announced that they will hold a general assembly meeting at the port tonight to decide what actions to take next. Protesters are expected to decide whether they will stay at the port to attempt to close down early morning operations. 

The march began at Frank Ogawa Plaza at around 4 p.m., while more demonstrators began to march from the West Oakland BART station at around 5 p.m.  

Officers cleared the roads this evening to make way for demonstrators who were holding signs, waving flags and chanting slogans like "The system has got to die, hella hella Occupy."  

The crowd appears to be blocking about a dozen trucks from entering and exiting the port. 

The daylong protest began early this morning when hundreds of protesters marched to the port and blocked several entrances.  

Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin said the protest caused "sporadic disruptions" and delays but that all terminals were open early this afternoon and traffic was flowing in and out of the port. 

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the protest was mostly peaceful but that two people were arrested outside the port's America Terminal at 1599 Maritime St. shortly before noon for failing to comply with a police order to stop blocking a driveway. 

The marches are part of a West Coast port blockade today organized by the Occupy movement that is taking place in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.  

Charles Smith, 68, of Richmond was one of the porters who took to the streets today to show his support. 

Smith, a Vietnam War veteran, who has been protesting since 3:30 a.m. is representing the United Public Workers for Action. Smith said he was active in Vietnam War protests and noted some key differences between demonstrations then and now. 

"The people are a very unusual mix of people. You didn't have that kind of mix then," he said. 

Citing lack of jobs and increasing debt from college tuitions, Smith said, "The thing that's different is the young people have no future." 

Not everyone who turned out today was in favor of the protests. One man who stood at the corner of 14th street and Broadway held a sign that read "Occupy attacks working people." 

Joel Hume, a truck driver for C.R. England, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was waiting in line at Berths 30-32 with a truckload of beef and pork this morning as protesters gathered at the gates. 

"Raising awareness about income inequality is good, but I don't agree with their methods," Hume said. 

He said, "I want to see things changed as well, but they shouldn't prevent people from doing their jobs. They're taking food out of peoples' mouths."