FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Oakland Cops Attack Longshoremen and Peace Protesters

Oakland Police tossed concussion grenades and shot wooden bullets at anti-war protesters and union members, injuring several, on the Oakland docks.

Around 500 anti-war activists had set up a peaceful picket shouting “Union Yes! War No!” at American Presidential Lines because it ships military cargo and Stevedoring Services of America docks because it stands to profit from the war through a contract to run the docks in Um Quasr after the war in Iraq.

Representatives of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union determined that they would not cross the picket line because the police presence presented a threat to their members’ health and safety, thereby shutting down the morning shift on the docks.

The decision proved correct as minutes later, cops charged motorcycles into peaceful picketers and union members, threw concussion grenades at them and then opened fire with high velocity wooden blocks.

Sue Sandlin, former co-chair of the Port Workers Solidarity Committee, described the action to Socialist Worker.

“The police came down the street towards us in a military formation. Protesters actually had decided to take down the picket because our plan was to have a peaceful protest on public property. We were trying to figure out how to disperse because the cops had blocked the entrance that most of us had used to get to the gates of the docks. We began walking away from the police lines, trying to get to the sides of the road. Then police opened fire. People were being shot in the back as they tried to get away. Me and my friend dove into a ditch and she was hit by a rubber bullet. There were people dropping after being hit and there were explosions all around from the police percussion grenades. I was afraid people were being killed. The police were firing indiscriminately at protesters who were fleeing as well as workers who were stopped in their cars in the middle of the street. It was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had. After the initial shock wore off, everyone wase appalled by the police and concerned for the people who’d been wounded. So we tended to the people who had fallen and then we regrouped in an effort to get out as safely as possible in order to regroup later.”

Trent Willis, a business agent for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, told the Associated Press, “They shot my guys. We’re not going to work today. The cops had no reason to open up on them.”

Police arrested 24 protesters, including ILWU Local 10 Business Agent Jack Heyman.

As Heyman was dragged away in handcuffs, wearing his ILWU jacket, he shouted, “I’m a union official. I have the right to represent my members!”

International Socialist Organization member Regina, told Socialist Worker, “After the cops charged us, I dove into a ditch and that’s when they shot me in the elbow. Some fucking democracy! we can’t even have a peaceful picket!”

Steve Stallone, spokesman for the ILWU who was present at the protest told Socialist Worker, “Clearly this was an inappropriate use of force. They police shot the union workers they were supposedly there to protect. If they’d wanted to keep people away from the docks, they could have just put up a barricade a half mile away. They never needed to shot at what was clearly a non-violent action.”

In fact, police response was no spontaneous over reaction.

For at least 15 minutes, police formed lines, calmly aimed at fleeing protesters and fired.

They came prepared to use a massive level of violence in order to intimidate the union and the anti-war movement from ever trying to take action on the docks.

The Oakland Police Department has a reputation for violence and, in fact, just paid out eleven million dollars in civil settlement involving framing and beating innocent Oaklanders by a group of cops called the “Riders.”

The labor movement should show its solidarity with its own members of the ILWU and for the right of the anti-war movement to conduct peaceful protests by denouncing this unprovoked police brutality in clear terms.

Todd Chretien writes for the Socialist Worker. He can be reached at: ChretienTodd@aol.com

Today’s Features

William S. Lind
The Pitfalls of War Planning

Jorge Mariscal
Latinos on the Frontlines, Again

Paul de Rooij
Arrogant Propaganda

Jo Wilding
From Baghdad: “I Am His Mother”

Tarif Abboushi
Operation Embedded Folly

Lee Sustar
Labor’s War at Home

Akiva Eldar
Israeli Dreams of Iraqi Oil

Bernard Weiner
The Vietnam Connection

Robert Fisk
The Graveyard at Baghdad’s North Gate

Steve Perry
War Web Log 04/01

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

TODD CHRETIEN writes for the Socialist Work.

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail