spent better than the past week coordinating our participation, with meetings, tactics trainings, information gathering, food, art, and transportation preparations. We were a bit unnerved by the reports we were hearing from Occupy Long Beach, who told us that the cops were "going to great pains" to accomodate our protest, and that if anyone got arrested, it would be their own fault. We were worried that Long Beach was making deals that we hadn't and wouldn't agree to, essentially setting us in a trap. We were also concerned about the potential for becoming trapped or kettled in on the port's narrow piers.
We decided to arrive early just in case entry was blocked prior to the official five o'clock start time. We gathered at the site of our former encampment at midnight Sunday, shared resources such as bandannas, rain ponchos, and pepper spray antidote, and added final touches on our banners and signs. One soul burned sage, and a few shared sage words of inspiration.
We formed a ten-car caravan that met with comrades from other inland occupys at a Long Beach all-night chain restaurant for coffee and various victuals, and then headed to Harry Bridges Park, the propitiously named park that becase the staging area for our militant labor protest. A large contingent from Occupy Las Vegas had beat us there, and Occupy Pasadena, Occupy Long Beach, was also present. Soon enough, the buses from Occupy LA arrived. There were also large contingents from IWW chapters and other groups such as CodePink and the socialist parties, and some smaller groups from other unions, but the autonomous social body of Occupy was unmistakable as the primary visible force.
Black flags and syndicalist flags abounded, a many, many comrades wore bandannas over their faces and masks of other sorts, ready to form a black bloc if necessary.
At about 5, Michael Novick arrived and started distributing chant sheets and clarifying the morning's game plan. The corporate media rushed to make last-minute interviews before the 5:30 departure time. The crowd was brimming with energy, and even though the rain fell very steadily.
"Hey hey, Goldman Sachs, we want all our money back!"
"Whose port? Our port!"
"All day! All week! Occupy Long Beach!"
"Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!"
We marched along the waterfront through the park and entered the port.
"Jail them yes! Bail them no! Goldman Sachs has got to go!"
"¡Se ve, se siente! ¡El pueblo está presente!"
"We are the 99%!"
Some of the comrades grabbed a metal barricade from the cops and carried it with them. It was about a forty-minute walk, but eventually we did encounter police repression.
An advance party ignored the police line and continued about a hundered yards toward the dock. Some organizers attempted to convince us not to continue the march, and the crowd seemed pretty hesitant. Shortly the bolder group returned and convinced most of the rest of us to join them. We advanced further, but eventually faced off with another row of cops.
"The people united will never be divided!"
"Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Long Beach! Occupy everywhere! Never give it back!"
"What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
It wasn't clear where the truckers were supposed to enter, or where the longshore workers' normal entrance was, so people didn't really know where to best make use of their presence. Shortly, however, we regrouped and resituated ourselves more strategically.
Once we did, the police issued their warning. "This is the Long Beach police department. You are trespassing on private property. You will be subject to arrest unless you move back to the pre-designated protest area." Our fears about OLB's negotiations with the police were confirmed.
The drums beat furiously.
"This is what a police state looks like!"
"One! We are the people! Two! We are united! Three! The occupation is not leaving!"
"Predesignated protest area!" someone mocked into a bullhorn.
We formed a picket, circling in front of the line of cops that was attempting to block us.
"Kick Wall Street off the waterfront!"
"Every where we go, people wanna know who we are! So we tell them: We are the ninety-nine! The mighty ninety-ninety-nine!"
The cops issues another warning ten minutes later. Shortly thereafter they began to shove us back with their clubs.
"We are peaceful! We are non-violent!"
They also attempted to grab members of the crowd on several occasions. Most of the times we were able to retrieve our comrades, but they managed to keep one of our brothers from the inland empire who has been active in Occupy San Bernardino Valley and who played a prominent role in Occupy Ontario's first action
The drums beat a frenzied cadence.
"Let them go! Let him go! Let her go!"
"Police represent the 1%"
"The whole world is watching!"
At one point, it seemed the cops were attempting to break through our line. About five or six of them burst forth into the center of our line, but we stuck together and they were unable to penetrate us. Luckily, we suspected they would attempt to split us with a maneuver like this, and the anarchists were quick to bring the barricade to the precise spot where it was needed to repel the attack.
"We're ninjas! Don't fuck with us!"
"¡Sí se puede!"
This continued for more than an hour, with the police pushing back a few feet at a time at first, then continuously.
Since we had accomplished our original goal of ending truck traffic and deterring much longshore worker attendance, we decided to fall back. As we did, we practiced some innovative chants.
"Police got the back of Goldman Sachs!"
"Move your feet! Tactical retreat!"
"Emma Goldman not Goldman Sachs!"
"Stay together! We'll fight forever!"
When we reached the intersection nearest to the parking lot, police closed in on both sides. A tent went up and people sat down. The cops threatened to use chemical weapons, painful projectiles, and angry dogs against us. They ordered us to disperse and threatened to arrest anyone who chose to remain. They said they would designate the legal dispersal route but failed to do so until challenged by a protester.
Even as people passed through the parking lot, the police remained in pursuit, in times appearing to want to block of the exit routes of dispersing protesters.
Once the parking lot was mostly clear, however, they refocused their presence at the entrance to the park where the action had begun that morning, giving us a bit of breathing room in the park to regroup. Different groups made plans to meet for food, debriefing, and planning next steps.
This is the most excited I have ever seen any group to take action. We created a feedback loop from our own energy that kept us pumped and motivated all morning long. In evaluative conversations, we shared the feeling of success from having reached a common objective. We prevented 200 trucks from entering the port, and according to a comrade in communication with the ILWU, also deterred about 50 longshore workers from entering as well. We rejoiced in the inspirational power that collective action has, making us eager to escalate tactics to ensure that the proposed May Day General Strike is as effective and powerful as possible.
Singing the US national anthem.
The cops even had their boat out.