Though they've arguably got bigger things to worry about right now — like where in the world they're going to live, come LAPD eviction — Occupy L.A. organizers are chattering about another big day of action on December 12: Occupy Ports. (And they'll have to recuperate by January 2, when they plan to form a massive human float for “Occupy the Rose Parade.”)
Two weeks from now, protesters all along the West Coast are fixing to “disrupt the capital flow and profits of the 1 percent” by blocking traffic at California's major ports. The largest seaport in the country not excluded:
Occupy L.A. voted in a General Assembly meeting a couple weeks ago that it would march to the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors in support of Occupy Ports, a brainchild of Occupy Oakland. (In fact, the feisty NorCal encampment already staged a semi-successful port shutdown in early November.)
Here's the pitch, as trumpeted across L.A. City Hall lawn:
Moving on from the showdown at Bank of America Plaza in downtown L.A., the big target on December 12 will be megabank Goldman Sachs, who happens to own SSA Marine — a major shipping company with multiple L.A. terminals.
Among the protesters' grievances:
The 1% have pursued a conscious policy of de-industrialization that has resulted in “trade” at the port meaning that there are 7 containers coming in for every one going out. The 1% have driven migrant workers into a “grey market” economy and repression.
Meaning they've also got the immigrants' rights camp on board. Indeed, Occupy organizers say in a statement today that “Occupy LA joins the call for an economic boycott and march in the city for immigration reform and legalization of immigrants.'' (Now all they need is to incorporate the medical-marijuana camp, and every activist in the city will show up to the port on Monday, posterboard a-sail.)
Where the picket line's backing becomes a little hazier, especially here in SoCal, is among port workers. Though the Occupy Ports website claims the protest “is in solidarity with the ILWU local in Longview, WA, which is fighting a move by giant grain and shipping companies to bust the union, so they can have cheaper labor,” ILWU has refused to give the boycott its blessing.
But Occupy Port organizers are confident the union will give a silent nod of support, come game day:
The ILWU did not call for the November 2 general strike in Oakland, either. However, they did not cross the picket lines, set up by tens of thousands of people, including labor, community and student groups, at the Oakland ports. They have a history of honoring such picket lines.
And unionized workers, affected daily by Goldman Sachs greed, are clearly a driving force behind this day of action. (That's a little controversial around here as well, seeing as giant trucker unions have been trying to drive independent, non-unionized truckers out of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports for years, under sneaky guises like saving the environment.)
At the shaky beginnings of the Occupy Wall Street movement, occupiers argued over whether to align with unions, seeing as they pay into the country's cash-driven election machine. However, seemingly for the sake of keeping the ball rolling (and collecting as many angry 99 percenters as possible), recent union-driven actions like protesting the Los Angeles Unified School District and the University of California have been granted a pretty all-encompassing thumbs-up from Occupy.
Anyway, this should be an interesting mashup of causes and interest groups to fan rightbloggers' complaints about an already mashed-up movement. And with an interesting backdrop of looming cargo ships and loony seagulls, to up the drama a notch.
Demonstrators are allowed to express their views as long as they do not interfere with port traffic, said Port of Long Beach spokesman Art Wong. Also, they must confine their picketing to areas that are safely separated from truck traffic and construction zones, he said. However, there is so much construction going on at the port, and Mondays are usually busy days in the harbor, so demonstrations would be even more burdensome to port operations, Wong said.
Port of Los Angeles police have been meeting with city agencies and local police departments to develop a response plan, said port spokesman Philip Sanfield. With the proposed demonstrations still two weeks away, it is still a fluid situation, he said.
One thing we can guarantee: Interfering with port traffic will be a requisite, not something to avoid. And if any OWS offshoot knows how to stand its ground, it's the growing 99 percent at Occupy Los Angeles.