After getting evicted from City Hall, Occupy L.A. is searching for a second act. This week, there were protests at foreclosed homes. On Monday, occupiers plan to rally at the Port of L.A., as part of a coordinated “blockade” of West Coast ports.
The Ports of L.A. and Long Beach make up the biggest port complex in the country. So shutting them down would be a pretty big deal. Will that happen?
In a word, no.
“We understand that our action on Dec. 12 will not shut down the ports of LA and Long Beach, and we never claimed we would,” the occupiers said in a press release.
Why not? Occupy protesters managed to shut down the Port of Oakland back on Nov. 2. Why couldn't they do it here?
The answer is pretty simple. The L.A. port complex is too big. It's much, much larger than Oakland's. It covers 43 miles of waterfront. From the standpoint of port operations, there's no way that 500 protesters are going to be much more than an annoyance.
That's not to say the port can't be shut down. It can. But previous shutdowns have always been part of a labor action. And the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — which calls the shots down there — has made it clear that they do not support the Dec. 12 blockade.
Nevertheless, Occupy L.A. will gather at 5 a.m. Monday at Harry Bridges Park, near the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The occupiers say they will focus their protest on SSA Marine, which is partially owned by Goldman Sachs. SSA operates four terminals in Long Beach and one in L.A.
Port police officers will be out there keeping an eye on things.
“We respect and are going to ensure the right for citizens to peacefully assemble and demonstrate,” said Port of L.A. spokesman Philip Sanfield. “Those public assembly rights will be balanced against the rights of a port that needs to continue working.”
The Occupy release states that this demonstration will be the first step toward a general strike on May 1, 2012.