PORTLAND -- Occupy Portland activists blocked entrances into the Port of Portland's terminals along Marine Drive Monday, in their part of a West Coast protest.
One group marched to Terminal 6 about 6:30 a.m.. A second group marched to the Terminal 5 entrance. Most all first gathered at nearby Kelley Point Park.
Anti-Wall Street protesters up and down the West Coast joined in the effort Monday to blockade some of the nation's busiest ports from Anchorage to San Diego, to Portland and Seattle.
"The thing is, I have faith in humanity, I don't think any person driving a train is going to haul through a bunch of peaceful people with children," protester Lotus said.
"A lot of people were planning on coming to work today and they were unable to do so," said Jennifer Sargent with ILWU Local 8.
Portland Port spokesman Josh Thomas said they decided to erect a fence at the two terminals and shut down for the day, citing concerns about personal safety of workers. One of the closed terminals is for grain and potash exports, the other for imports and exports, Thomas said.
Early Monday morning, two men who said they were part of the protest were arrested with a loaded handgun, sword and gas masks at one of the entrances, police said. And in another incident, some Occupy Portland protesters were involved in a crash in a stolen truck on Marine Drive.
If the effort is successful, shutting down West Coast ports for a day could result in $9 million in lost wages, officials said. As for Portland, closing the port will also have a financial impact on small businesses, according to Port of Portland spokesman Steve Johnson.
"Maritime activities support over 12,000 family wage jobs in the Portland metro area alone," he said. "The Port is also important to the agricultural and small business communities – 88 percent of Oregon exporters are small- and medium-sized businesses."
Demonstrations across the U.S.
Occupy groups in Seattle, Tacoma and the Canadian city of Vancouver were also involved in blockades. And in California, protesters marched on the Port of Oakland and descended on the sprawling port complex spanning Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The protests being billed as action against "Wall Street on the waterfront" are perhaps the Occupy movement's most dramatic gesture since police raids sent most remaining camps scattering last month. Demonstrators began forming those camps around the country about two months ago to protest what they call corporate greed and economic inequality.
Organizers hoped to draw thousands Monday to stand in solidarity with longshoremen and port truckers they said were being exploited. "Taking on and blocking the 1 percent at the port is also taking on the global issue of exploitation by capitalism," said Occupy Oakland blockade organizer Barucha Peller.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents many thousands of longshoremen up and down the West Coast, has distanced itself from the shutdown effort. The union's president suggested in a letter to members that protesters were attempting to co-opt the union's cause to advance their own agenda.
Officials at West Coast ports say they have been coordinating with law enforcement agencies as they prepare for possible disruptions. Protesters say police violence against blockades in any city will trigger an extension of blockades in other cities as a show of resolve.