Port official says morning protest caused ‘sporadic disruptions’

AP Photo/Beck DiefenbachA protester is shoved by an Alameda County Sheriff Dept. officer as police attempted to leave the Port of Oakland

Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin said a large protest at the port this morning caused “sporadic disruptions” and delays but that all terminals are open and traffic is flowing in and out of the port.

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the protest was mostly peaceful but that two people were arrested outside the port’s America Terminal at 1599 Maritime St. shortly before noon for failing to comply with a police order to stop blocking a driveway.

Jordan said seven people were blocking the driveway and five of them complied with police orders to move.

He said there haven’t been any reports of violence associated with the protest but that there was one report of vandalism.

Benjamin said that although operations are continuing at all seven of the port’s marine terminals and its two rail terminals, the protest has affected some terminals’ gates and caused truck traffic to back up.

Mid-morning, dozens of trucks were lined up outside at least two of the port’s entrances as hundreds of protesters blocked drivers’ paths.

Isaac Kos-Read, the port’s director of external affairs, said trucks are now moving in and out of all terminals but said the situation is “dynamic.”

He said the today’s disruptions are much more minor so far than those caused by the previous protest at the port on Nov. 2.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the protest has been peaceful and said, “We’re trying to keep the port and businesses open with a minimum of disruption.”

Kos-Read said port officials are working with police to gear up for the protest’s second wave, which is expected to begin late this afternoon.

“We will do the same thing we did this morning, which is to work with law enforcement to minimize disruptions,” Kos-Read said.

Protesters plan to rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland at 3 p.m. and march to the port an hour later. Another group will meet at the West Oakland BART station again at 5 p.m. for a march to the port.

The marches are part of a West Coast port blockade today organized by the Occupy movement that is taking place in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.

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