Occupy LA protesters gathered early Monday morning at the Port of Long Beach to take part in a West Coast blockade of all ports. After obstructing an intersection, demonstrators eventually backed down in the face of a coalition of law enforcement groups -- but not before two were arrested and dozens of trucks were blocked from their destinations.
Protesters were focused on a pier that led to the SSA Marine, a shipping company that is 51% owned by Goldman Sachs. A video released one week ago explains that the reasons for the Port of Long Beach action include migrant and workers' rights and trade policy.
Four different police agencies worked in concert to control the crowd at the Port of Long Beach: California Highway Patrol, Harbor Patrol, Long Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. A livefeed of the action showed that police held a skirmish line and eventually declared the event an "unlawful assembly." According to protesters, law enforcement officers reportedly threatened to deploy "impact weapons" and "dog bites" on the crowd.
The Associated Press has more on the scene at the port:
In Southern California, as many as 400 demonstrators gathered in a park, then marched on the Port of Long Beach. Occupy protesters targeted a dock facility leased by SSA Marine, a shipping company that's partially owned by Goldman Sachs.
Dozens of protesters, some beating drums and waving flags, gathered outside a fenced area at the port, which is part of a sprawling complex that covers both Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Occupy LA protesters chanted slogans directed at police officers like "You're sexy, you're cute! Take off your riot suit!" before being eventually diverted to the nearby Harry Bridges Park.
Two were arrested at the Port of Long Beach, according to Occupy Los Angeles Twitter reports, and one of them includes longtime Los Angeles activist Kwazi Nkrumah. The other is a man from Riverside named Nick, according to NBC LA's John Cadiz Klemack. The group is calling for donations to a bail fund.
Today's action was not officially endorsed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, notes the Los Angeles Times, but protest organizers were hoping that labor leaders would recognize the picket line.
By the 9 am hour, the blockade seemed to be winding down at the Port of Long Beach, but the action definitely had an impact. Organizer Michael Novick told the Los Angeles Times, "We've already blocked 200 trucks from coming in." Helicopter coverage from KTLA showed a long line of backed up trucks on the street leading into the port.
The official word from the Port of Long Beach, however, is that the action did not disrupt shipping or other business this morning; John Cadiz Klemack of NBC LA notes that it contrasts reports put out by Occupy organizers.
Occupy LA blamed the gathered police for shutting down business: "There was no order to shut down the port. LBPD blocked the roads not letting anyone in, effectivly (sic) shutting down the port."
By 9:30 am, streets near the targeted port were beginning to move again, according to televised reports from KTLA, but a 9:39 am update from Occupy LA claims that a tent is stopping a line of truckers from entering the port.
Photos of today's action at the Port of Long Beach by Mathieu Young.
Story will be updated. Occupy the Port of Long Beach was part of a coordinated action across all West Coast ports. Check out live updates from around the nation with HuffPost's Occupy Wall Street liveblog.
03/20/2012 6:12 PM EDT
Trouble At Occupied Apartment Building Splits Occupy Miami
Via HuffPost Miami:
When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.
The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.
"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."
...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.
03/19/2012 6:32 PM EDT
Occupy DC Protesters Sue MPD
Via HuffPost DC:
WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.
Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)
The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."
Full story here.
03/19/2012 12:20 PM EDT
Occupy Wall Street Attempts To Occupy Union Square
OWS reports via its website:
After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
03/18/2012 10:35 AM EDT
Watch: Another Video Documenting Woman's Arrest
03/18/2012 10:34 AM EDT
NY Observer ID's Victim
The woman had the apparent seizure has been identified by the New York Observer as Cecily McMillan:
Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.
A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.
According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.
To read the full story, go here.
03/18/2012 10:33 AM EDT
Watch: Woman Who Had Apparent Seizure Brutalized By Police
Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:
03/18/2012 10:32 AM EDT
'Stop Pushing Us!'
Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:
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03/18/2012 10:31 AM EDT
New York Times Reports Alleged Police Abuse
The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:
At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.
By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.
Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.
To read the full story, go here.