Anti-Wall Street protests shut down US port


One of the United States’ busiest sea ports remained closed early Thursday after anti-Wall Street protesters marched on it at the climax of a day of protests and strike action. California’s port of Oakland, which does 59 percent of its trade with Asia, sent staff home early as hundreds of protesters besieged the docks, at the fourth busiest US container port by cargo volume, according to its website. “Maritime operations remain effectively shut down,” said a Port of Oakland statement in an update late Wednesday night, adding that services “will not resume until it is safe and secure to do so.
The dockside shutdown came after thousands of people rallied in the city center during the day to support a strike called after police fired tear gas while clearing a protestors’ camp last week, injuring one person. “Celebrate the death of capitalism,” read a banner on a makeshift altar decorated with flowers. An elementary school teacher, was helping carry a banner reading: “Bail out schools and services, not banks!” “Our classrooms are overcrowded, he said. “The banks are being bailed out – but not the schools.” While the protests were mainly peaceful, some acts of vandalism were reported, targeting closed-up bank branches downtown. Protesters headed towards the port and blockaded different terminals by early evening – at which point the port declared itself effectively closed.
A line of several dozen riot police in gas masks blocked the march at one point but later dissipated without conflict, and most protesters did not even come close to police lines.
A giant black banner strung up across one intersection read: “Death to capitalism. Occupy everything!” With their mission accomplished by late evening, the protesters began heading back downtown. Police blocked freeway entrances. In the Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall – where violence flared last week after riot police moved in to clear a two-week old camp – the Occupy encampment had expanded back to more than 50 tents.