Local occupations around the country are linking up through frequent, massive conference calls, tightening what is now an extremely loose national network that operates under the Occupy banner into a more focused force.
The effort, now known as InterOccupy, started out of Occupy Wall Street in New York in mid-October. It has since grown into an elaborate website with multiple weekly phone calls during which occupiers trade ideas, coordinate multistate actions, and plan for the future. Participants at about 150 occupations around the country (and a few internationally) have now participated in the calls, organizers tell me.
“The [weekly] national calls have brought people together, including people who are otherwise isolated in their own occupations,” says Nate Kleinman, an Occupy Philly participant and InterOccupy organizer. “There’s usually a strong particular culture at individual occupations. It’s immensely valuable to have a place once a week where people come together from across the country and share ideas and their hopes for what the movement can accomplish.”
The media narrative holds that dockworkers opposed the Occupy The Ports action. However, the action was intended to show support and solidarity with West Coast port truck drivers, whose attempts at unionization and securing safe working conditions have been continually stymied. Here’s a statement from representatives of the port truck drivers:
We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.
We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11 children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.
We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.
Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?”
(This is another instance where I wish I could quote the whole piece. Stirring and compelling. —ed.)
For those of you who have been living in a cave—or listening solely to mainstream media—today was a day of action for Occupy Wall Street. Occupy the Ports officially kicked off, inspired by (among other things) the eviction and police brutality in Oakland. Since there’s a lot going on out there in a bunch of different places, we’ll round up the news as best we can here:
- First and most important, SF Gate reports the protestors did indeed successfully shut down the Port of Oakland. Way to go, guys!
- Also, don’t believe the hype about OWS and port workers being pitted against each other. The port truck drivers openly support OWS’ shutdown.
- TriCity Herald: Seattle police forces use dangerous flashbangs to disperse non-violent port blockaders.
- Meanwhile, the Houston fire department aided police forces in placing a red tent over restrained protestors to prevent anyone from seeing them or what was being done to them. Early reports are that the police had tape over their name and badge numbers, and that the protestors may have been gassed after the tent went up. Both San Diego and Seattle have requested an extension of the blockage in response.
In addition to all of this, you can get ongoing updates at the official site.
(Stay as safe as possible out there, folks, and keep up the good fight. Solidarity! —ed.)
In solidarity with the December 12 West Coast port actions, the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas approved a proposal to march on the Port of Houston. They will be joined by members of Occupy Houston, Occupy Austin, Occupy San Marco, Occupy San Antonio, Occupy Now and Occupy Texas.
We have made attempts at local demonstrations in an effort to spread awareness of the economic injustices affecting the 99%. These peaceful assemblies have been organized with the aim of petitioning our government for a redress of our grievances. On a national level, the response to our protest has often included excessive force and unnecessary violence perpetrated by police departments, with thousands of citizens unlawfully arrested.
Occupy Dallas would like to urge other movements in Texas and the surrounding states that wish to participate in the Occupy the Gulf Coast action to join with Occupy Houston before December 12.