Update (8:20 p.m.): Thousands of protesters marched from downtown to the Port of Oakland where they blocked terminals, stopping traffic and shutting down the port. With almost no police officers in sight, the march seemed more like a festival, with people dancing in the streets, chanting, playing music, and climbing atop 18-wheelers and cargo boxes at the port to show their support for Occupy Oakland. That's what happens when you remove police from the scene -- it's just a damn good time!
Update (4:15 p.m.): Port officials sent some workers home at 3:30 p.m., preparing for what is expected be a massive march to the Port of Oakland later this evening. Officials sent out a statement just now, saying it is "to ensure their safety and the flow of traffic in case there are any public actions impacting the immediate area." The peaceful protest seemed to escalate slightly in the Lake Merritt area, where demonstrators vandalized a Whole Foods, bashing in one of the windows, and spray-painting the word "strike" across the front of the building. The store locked its doors with customers still inside after the window was smashed. People milled around outside, contemplating where else to get groceries nearby. One protester spit on your correspondent's car as I drove through the chaos, snapping photos. We'll keep you posted on tonight's march.
Update (12:50 p.m.):
Protesters are blocking the entrances to various banks throughout downtown Oakland, including Chase and Wells Fargo. "We have closed one store today at 14th and Broadway," Wells Fargo spokeswoman Holly Rockwood said
. When we headed over to Bank of America, the bank had locked its doors to customers, as protesters shouted "close down Bank of America!" Down the street, Occupy Oakland protesters linked arms in front of Wells Fargo, creating a human chain that blocked customers from entering. Police have closed down Broadway between 17th and 12th streets where thousands of people are now gathered for a noon rally. The streets are loud, and the spirit is high here in Oakland.Update (11:36 a.m.):
Port of Oakland officials say the port is open today, but that things can change any minute. According to a statement released now: "At the seaport, marine terminals are generally operating, although the situation is fluid. Each of our the Port's terminals operates independently, and Port staff are in close touch with terminal operators, shipping companies, and other tenants. We will be providing periodic updates throughout the day."
Original Story (10 a.m.): Protesters are gathered in downtown Oakland where leaders just announced that the Port of Oakland
longshoremen have joined Wednesday's general strike in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. SF Weekly
contacted Port of Oakland officials to confirm, but we have not heard back yet. However, a spokesman for the longshoremen union is telling reporters
that although some port workers did not show up today, the union is not encouraging a strike, and it's business as usual at the Port of Oakland this morning.
Meanwhile, not one police officer could be spotted in downtown, where hundreds of Occupy Oakland protesters clustered at Broadway and 14th streets for the start of a daylong strike
Teachers reportedly ditched school
and some businesses were open and other closed, posting signs that they were supporting the 99 percent.
Demonstrators are planning to meet again at noon and protest outside banks and other corporations, attempting to shut them down for the day. At 5 p.m. the group will march to the Port of Oakland.
Check back for updates. Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly