Rachel Krantz on Wednesday, Nov. 2nd
Port officials issued the statement themselves: Peaceful protesters have effectively shut down the Port of Oakland.
Police estimate that as many as 7,000 people marched to block the port early Wednesday night. By around 9 p.m., those numbers had dwindled somewhat, but the port entrance remained securely blocked by protesters’ bodies.
Mahasan, a 23-year-old participant, says she came over to the port later than most.
“On the way here some people told us ‘There’s hella people still there [at the port]!” I thought that was really funny–you know we’re in Oakland,” Mahasan said.
Like many people at the port, this was Mahasan’s first day participating in the Occupy movement.
“I like the bikes, the people of color–it’s a beautiful sight to see,” Mahasan said. “I’m optimistic. I think a lot of times people are frustrated and pissed off. But when you see things like this it’s inspiring.”
The atmosphere at The Port of Oakland on Wednesday night was decidedly calmer than last week’s attempted clearing of Frank Ogawa Plaza. Few police were present at the port, and those who were there kept their distance.
Still, there were some protestors who seemed ready for a fight. One man began belligerently yelling at another protestor saying ‘He’s proud of murdering Iraqis!’ but was quickly told by other demonstrators to settle down .
And later, a contingent of a few hundred got rowdy. This excerpt is from a Mother Jones report:
After most protesters had left, a contingent of several hundred occupied the abandoned Traveler’s Aid building and barricaded surrounding streets; when police moved in, protesters set barricades on fire, and police deployed tear gas.
“Don’t fight the bait,” said Fred Werner, a demonstrator with the Jewish Occupy Oakland Contingent.
“At almost any level, almost any violence is unnecessary,” said Werner. “People are reacting out of fear, pain and hurt. Violence in a situation like this totally counterproductive.”
When asked what he thought the end goal of the Occupy movement should be, Werner said that wasn’t the issue.
“The beauty of this is there isn’t one single law, bill, or candidate that people are out for. After 30 years of a strong tilt towards depersonalization–where we’ve been seen as basically consumers and taxpayers and nothing more–there’s finally enough people fed up with that for a course correction,” said Werner. “I’m so excited that for the first time in my life it feels like there’s a movement to change the way we treat each other.”
With a food truck giving out free ice cream and 80′s hip hop blasting out of speakers, protesters at the port were feeling the love. 24-year-old Rina Harring, another first-time participant, said she was glad to be there.
“This is my first day being involved. I think it was the general strike that convinced me. I was like ‘Well, now I have no excuse not to come,’” Harring said. “We dont know where we’re sleeping yet, but we’re going to stay here till tomorrow morning because that’s what they said to do. We have to get up early in the morning anyway.”