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Oakland Port reopens after protesters disrupt overnight operations

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:18 PM EST, Tue December 13, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Port of Oakland reopens Tuesday after being shut down by protesters overnight
  • NEW: The disruptions cost workers shifts and wages, port officials said
  • "It's really got to stop," Oakland mayor says

(CNN) -- California's Oakland port terminal re-opened on Tuesday after Occupy protestors shut the facility down overnight, but the disruption "cost the Port and City of Oakland vital resources," a statement from officials said.

"They hurt the many businesses that pay taxes and help us create jobs," Robert Bernardo, communications manager for the port, said.

Bernardo said port officials were committed to "regaining the confidence of partners who bring business to Oakland and the region."

On Monday, a statement from the port authority said there were "some delays of truck traffic" but said the port remained operational.

But by Monday night, the protests had disrupted workers ability to get to work and impaired the port's ability to operate, officials said.

Officials said the disruptions resulted in a backlog of of work to get through, cost workers shifts and wages, and caused a negative ripple effect for people up and down the West Coast.

Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin suggested the Occupy movement should focus on "real solutions to the problems plaguing our economy."

On a normal night, several hundred people would be working the graveyard shift, port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read told CNN.

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"What has this accomplished?" he asked. "This is disrupting the 99%." The Occupy movement has rallied against what it describes as corporate greed while asserting that the nation's wealthiest 1% hold inordinate sway over the remaining 99% of the population.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan concurred with Kos-Read, saying the Occupy movement isn't thinking of the consequences of its actions and whom it is actually hurting.

"They are saying ... they have to get the attention of the ruling class. I think the ruling class is probably laughing and people in this city will be crying this Christmas," Quan said. "It's really got to stop."

Oakland has been a flash point of the Occupy movement since October when police used tear gas to break up demonstrators who refused to leave downtown. One demonstrator, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq, suffered a skull fracture after being hit with a police projectile, according to a veteran's group; police said they acted after the crowd threw paint and other objects at officers.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union -- which represents 15,000 dockworkers -- has distanced itself from the protest movement. The union "shares the Occupy movement's concerns about the future of the middle class and corporate abuses," ILWU President Robert McEllrath wrote to locals last week -- but he urged the movement to stay out of its dispute with the port of Longview, Washington, and warned against "outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda."

In Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, three people claiming ties with the Occupy movement blocked the main door of House Speaker John Boehner office. The men, who said they were in the 120th hour of a hunger strike, sat together with stickers that read "Taxation without representation" taped over their mouths.

They said they were demanding full voting rights for residents in the District of Columbia.

Elsewhere, police moved into the Occupy Baltimore encampment at around 3 a.m. Tuesday to remove protesters that had been in McKeldin Square for the last two months, according to CNN affiliate WMAR. Local reports said officers were out in full riot gear, and police cars surrounded the area, but there were no major incidents reported.

Reports showed the city of Baltimore recently denied a permit extension for the camp and cut off its power supply, and that several incidents -- including a stabbing -- had occurred at the encampment recently.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said people are free to assemble and demonstrate, but "our public parks and green-spaces should not be treated as permanent campgrounds." Rawlings-Blake said her administration will provide "outreach and assistance" to the homeless.

Tuesday's actions followed Occupy protests -- and police reactions -- in several cities on Monday.

In Houston, police arrested 20 protesters after dozens of police on foot and on horseback confronted a somewhat larger group of Occupy protesters who blocked an interstate on-ramp, authorities said.

In Long Beach, California, protests caused isolated traffic delays but did not hinder port operations, according to Police Chief Jim McDonnrell, who added that two arrests were made.

About 80 protesters demonstrated outside the gate of San Diego's port Monday but caused no disruption, port spokesman Ron Powell said. Four people who sat down in the road were arrested, he said.

The demonstrations that began Monday in port cities were part of a nationwide Occupy effort in the aftermath of efforts by cities across the country -- including New York, Boston and Oakland -- to clear demonstrators from encampments they had set up in public parks and other locations.

"We are occupying the ports as part of a day of action, boycott and march for full legalization and good jobs for all to draw attention to and protest the criminal system of concentrated wealth that depends on local and global exploitation of working people, and the denial of workers' rights to organize for decent pay, working conditions and benefits, in disregard for the environment and the health and safety of surrounding communities," Occupy organizers said on their website.

CNN's Greg Morrison, Amanda Watts, Shawn Nottingham , Sara Weisfeldt and Melanie Whitley contributed to this report.

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