Byline: Associated Press
OAKLAND (AP) — Occupy Wall Street protesters declared victory after thousands of demonstrators shut down evening operations at the Port of Oakland — one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports — late Nov. 2, escalating a movement whose tactics had largely been limited to marches, rallies and tent encampments since it began in September.
The nearly five-hour protest at the nation’s fifth-busiest shipping port was intended to highlight a daylong “general strike” in the city, which prompted solidarity rallies in New York, Los Angeles and other cities.
The demonstrations were largely peaceful. Police estimated that a crowd of about 3,000 had gathered at the port at the height of the demonstration, around dusk.
Demonstrators disrupted operations by overwhelming the area with people and blocking exits with chain-link fencing and illegally parked vehicles. They also erected fences to block main streets to the port. No trucks were allowed into or out of the area.
Port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said evening operations had been “effectively shut down.” But hours later, the crowd began to dwindle, and a voice on a bullhorn declared a victory for the movement, saying, “The port has been shut down. Let’s head back to the plaza.”
Oakland organizers said they targeted the port because they wanted to stop the “flow of capital.”
Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said its members were not being called to strike, but that they supported the protesters. The members “are supporting the concerns raised by Occupy Oakland and the Occupy movement, to speak up for the 99 percent against the corporate greed that is wrecking America,” Merrilees said.