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Tuesday, December 13, 2011 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: "The Arab People Have Woken Up": Yemeni...
2011-12-13

Occupy Protesters Shut Down Major West Coast Ports, Targeting Goldman Sachs

Guests

Anthony Leviege, a dockworker at the Oakland port and union member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. He participated in the Occupy protest of West Coast ports.

Jorge Gonzalez, national board member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and executive director of Coffee Strong, a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse just outside of Ft. Lewis, Washington.

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The Occupy Wall Street movement moved from the streets to the docks on Monday with a series of actions along the West Coast, including San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Portland, Tacoma, Longview, Seattle, Bellingham, Anchorage and Vancouver. Many actions led to confrontations with police, resulting in scores of arrests, and in some cases, the use of pepper spray and flash grenades on demonstrators. Several ports were forced to temporarily cease operations, with terminals in Portland and Seattle completely shut down. In Oakland, an evening march to the port was led by Scott Olsen, the Marine Corps veteran struck in the head in October allegedly by a police projectile. For more, we are joined by Jorge Gonzalez of Iraq Veterans Against the War. "I see the struggle that’s going on with the port workers and the truck drivers down in Seattle and across the West Coast," Gonzalez says, who was pepper-sprayed on Monday while taking part in the Seattle protest. "They deal with the same issues, like mental health, homelessness. Veterans, they see themselves connected with all these issues." We also speak with Anthony Leviege, a dockworker at the Oakland port and member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The Occupy Wall Street movement moved from the streets to the docks on Monday with a series of actions along the West Coast. Thousands of protesters descended on ports in San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego; Portland, Oregon; Tacoma, Longview, Seattle, Bellingham, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and Vancouver, to disrupt the commercial traffic of major corporations in the name of the 99 percent, they said.

Many actions led to confrontations with police, resulting in scores of arrests, in some cases the use of pepper spray and flash grenades on demonstrators. Several ports were forced to temporarily cease operations, with three terminals in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle completely shut down. In Bellingham, Washington, 16 people were arrested after laying down on tracks in an attempt to stop trains from reaching the local port. In New York, 17 people were arrested at Manhattan’s World Financial Center in a show of solidarity with the port actions. Around 20 people were also arrested in Houston. Police there placed a large red tent over protesters while cutting PVC pipes used to band their arms together. In Oakland, an evening march to the port was led by Scott Olsen, the Marine Corps vet struck in the head in October allegedly by a police projectile.

To talk more about Monday’s actions on the West Coast, we’re joined by two people. In Seattle, Jorge Gonzalez, on the national board of Iraq Veterans Against the War and executive director of Coffee Strong, a veteran-owned, veteran-operated GI coffeehouse just outside Fort Lewis, Washington. He was pepper-sprayed Monday while taking part in the Seattle protest. And joining us in Berkeley is Anthony Leviege, a dockworker at the Oakland port, a union organizer with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who helped to organize Monday’s protest.

Anthony, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union did not endorse this, but you’re an organizer with them. What was the difference?

ANTHONY LEVIEGE: I would like to make a correction with that: I’m not an organizer with the union. I’m just a rank-and-file member.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, why did you choose to do this?

ANTHONY LEVIEGE: I’m part—I live in Oakland, so I’m part of Occupy, but I’m also a member of the ILWU. And the call was out in solidarity of the ILWU to what’s going on in Longview, Washington, with EGT and not using ILWU labor. So I felt, as a rank and file, I had to be out there to support it, and being part of Occupy.

AMY GOODMAN: And Jorge Gonzalez, tell us what happened to you in Seattle.

JORGE GONZALEZ: Thank you, Amy.

Well, personally, I was pepper-sprayed and then shot by tear gas canisters after police started getting more violent towards the protesters. They started using their bikes and horses, as well, to try and get us off the road. They succeeded, but they still started using flash grenades and tear gas.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the connection of Goldman Sachs, people arrested here in New York at the World Financial Center protesting Goldman Sachs, to your actions in Seattle and Oakland and around the West Coast?

JORGE GONZALEZ: Definitely. It’s all connected. As a veteran, I see it as the—Goldman Sachs plays a big part in what—what veterans want to do. We are trying to organize in the military. The port workers down in Seattle are trying to also organize. Goldman Sachs does not let them organize, apparently. But the profits that Goldman Sachs makes could definitely go to veterans and regular, normal working people of the United States. And that’s what we want.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Anthony Leviege, the whole issue of Goldman Sachs owning a large stake in port operator SSA Marine?

ANTHONY LEVIEGE: I think all corporations are targeted at this point, not just pointing out one of them. But yeah, I think they do play a big stake in the SSA terminal.

AMY GOODMAN: And the media quoting many of the truckers saying, "Why are you doing this? You’re hurting us more than you’re hurting the corporation. We are the 99 percent," they are saying, Anthony?

ANTHONY LEVIEGE: That question was asked a lot throughout Monday’s protest. And I decided that I’m not going to even respond to that question, because that’s just a device to keep people from dealing with the real issues at hand, because today’s action, if that hurts the trucker or anybody, that’s a sign of the times, that we do need change, that people are so dependent on missing one day’s pay, that they can’t make it if they miss one day’s pay. Those are some of the reasons why we definitely need to have change.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response to Robert McEllrath, the president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who opposed Monday’s port actions. In a letter to local branches, he wrote, quote, "Support is one thing, organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another." What do you think about that?

ANTHONY LEVIEGE: I think Bob is a representative of the rank and file, and I think that the rank and file didn’t have the chance to vote against it or for it. So I think the position of our leadership has been that we have no position. We have nothing to do with this, because there was no vote taken by the rank and file. So I think they acted too much into stopping something that they really didn’t have nothing to do with.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Jorge Gonzalez, can you talk about your being in Iraq war veteran and what that has to do with your protests?

JORGE GONZALEZ: Definitely. It’s all connected, Amy. Being a veteran, I see the struggle that’s going on with the port workers and the truck drivers down in Seattle and across the West Coast. They deal with the same issues, like mental health, homelessness. Veterans are—they see themselves connected with all these issues. We are in solidarity with the truck drivers and the port workers, whereas, like I said earlier, we—as a soldier, I would have loved to have been represented by an organization that would help me and my interests and my working conditions. And that’s what Goldman Sachs is trying to prevent down in Seattle.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Jorge Gonzalez, speaking to us from Seattle, with Iraq Veterans Against the War. Anthony Leviege, dockworker at the Oakland port.

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