Port of Oakland seeks peaceful Occupy Oakland protest

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Updated Nov 2, 2011

The Port of Oakland on Tuesday, Nov. 1, reached out to Occupy Oakland protesters planning to protest at the port this afternoon at 5 p.m. PT in an attempt to quell any unrest before it could get out of hand.

“These are challenging times, with high unemployment and tremendous uncertainty in the economy,” the port said in a letter attributed to Executive Director Omar Benjamin and President Pamela Calloway. “We understand that Occupy Oakland has voted for a general strike in Oakland November 2, 2011, and further plans to march to the Port of Oakland at 5 p.m. We also understand that there will be participation from people who do not live and work in the City of Oakland, which is understandable given the global nature of the Occupy movement. At the same time, this is our home, and it is our responsibility to respect it and ensure that others do too.”

Occupy Oakland participants, elected officials and business leaders all expressed hopes that the movement’s general strike would be a peaceful event for a city that became a rallying point last week after police used tear gas to clear a group at City Hall and then clashed with protesters in the street.

“It is our privilege, indeed our right in this country, to peacefully assemble and freely express our grievances to government,” the port wrote. “And it is our responsibility as Oaklanders to ensure that our city is a safe and peaceful place to live and work. Oakland has a long, honorable, and innovative tradition of social justice action. So it is understandable that the citizens of Oakland want to show solidarity with the worldwide movement for economic and social justice. It is also imperative that any and all expressions of protest be effective without being violent. Every individual on all sides of this event must take personal responsibility to ensure peace. Each one of us at the port is committed to a peaceful and safe march for all involved.”

Wednesday’s events in Oakland are expected to begin at 9 a.m. PT, when the first of three rallies scheduled by strike organizers kicks off downtown. The activities are expected to culminate with a march to the port to stop work there before the 7 p.m. PT evening shift.

“As you may be aware, there are multiple layers of security governing our nation’s ports, involving our local police department, regional, and federal agencies,” the port wrote. “Since becoming aware of the proposed march to the port, we have been engaged with our public safety and security partners at the local, regional, state and federal levels of government. We are all emphasizing the need for a peaceful and respectful assembly and expression of free speech. It is essential for the economic development of the City and region that the perception and reality of Oakland is stability, safety, and inclusion.”