OWS Port Shutdown Strategy May Backfire

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Source: thenewamerican.com

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators on the West Coast moved into a new phase of “direct action” this past week with efforts to close down shipping at major ports from San Diego, California, to Anchorage, Alaska. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) organizers designated Monday, December 12 as “Occupy the Ports Day” and had hoped to inspire ongoing strikes and blockades that would shut down import-export commerce long-term. However, except for the stoppage of shipping at Oakland, California, the plan has failed to achieve anywhere near the magnitude of disruptions that organizers had hoped for. Smaller OWS blockades at ports in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, caused lesser disruptions, while most other ports continued normal operations, as small groups of protesters marched, chanted, and sometimes attempted to block traffic in and out of port facilities.

Police in some cities prevented demonstrators from blocking port traffic. In Oakland, however, several hundred OWS activists were allowed to close entrances to America’s fifth busiest port, costing the city, workers, and businesses several million dollars. Under orders from city officials, Oakland police allowed the Occupy demonstrators to carry out their day-long disruption without police interference, in an effort to avoid violent confrontation. However, when organizers voted to continue the disruption through Tuesday, December 13, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan accused them of “economic violence” against the city and the 99 percent they claim to represent.

By Friday, December 16, Oakland city officials were feeling political and economic pressure to prevent any further port disruptions. “I think it’s embarrassing for the city, for the mayor, for the ports and for the council to keep saying that we’re not going to let this happen, but then it happens anyway,” said Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, one of the officials who is urging tougher actions against OWS protesters who break the law by blocking traffic and using other disruptive tactics.

Since the OWS protesters were evicted from their tent city encampments (in most cases, by police action), they have been searching for unifying themes and projects that might catch media attention and draw support from various grievance groups. Many OWS organizers have been working on recruiting students who are upset over tuition increases, as well as those burdened by huge student loans and zero job prospects. Others have focused on families that are facing foreclosure and eviction. But one of the biggest targeted efforts has been to establish working solidarity with unions already embroiled in battles with dominant shipping and port corporations aligned with Wall Street. They have specifically targeted EGT, the large multinational grain export company, and Stevedoring Services of America (SSA), where Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs owns a majority share of stock.

However, organizers of the port shutdown strategy have failed to win critically needed support from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Rank and file union members, as well as labor officials, have expressed anger at the hardship the port stoppages are causing for working families, even while acknowledging their own dissatisfaction with Wall Street bailouts and corporate-government cronyism.

Likewise, Americans in general share many of the concerns expressed by the OWS demonstrators, but surveys by Pew Research, ABC News/Wall Street Journal, and other opinion polling groups indicate that favorable opinions toward Occupy activists have dropped dramatically, while unfavorables have soared as the OWS antics have dragged on and have grown increasingly confrontational and lawless.

Blowing Their Anti-capitalist Capital

In short, the Occupy Wall Street agitators have blown much of their anti-capitalist capital. The longer they remain in the public eye, the more obvious it becomes that the major organizers and spokespersons of the OWS events are more interested in socialist/communist revolution than reform, more focused on destroying free-enterprise capitalism than correcting the corporatist abuses and corruption that are carried out in the name of capitalism. This has been the case, more or less, for OWS encampments from New York’s Zuccotti Park to Los Angeles’ City Hall Plaza. The radical bent of the OWS organizers has been especially evident in Oakland, where they have made little effort to camouflage their ultra-leftist ideology.

As we have noted previously, lesbian-feminist “Professor” Angela Davis, a former leader (and vice presidential candidate) of the Communist Party USA and former Black Panther Party revolutionary, has been one of the leading lights of the OWS movement. On December 12 she made one of her repeat appearances at OWS Oakland to urge support for the port shutdown effort.

Not surprisingly, she utilized the opportunity to thump one of her favorite themes: equating capitalism with racism and the oppression of women and ethnic minorities.

“This protest is connected to the anti-racism protest because capitalism is racist,” she declared. On December 12 she was interviewed as she marched in the Occupy Oakland port shutdown demonstration, as shown on this YouTube video:

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