OAKLAND, Calif (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters shut down operations at Oakland's port and blocked traffic on Wednesday to rally against economic inequality and police brutality in demonstrations marred by scattered vandalism.
The protest fell short of paralyzing the northern California city that was catapulted to the forefront of national anti-Wall Street protests after a former Marine was badly wounded during a march and rally last week.
But as evening fell, an official said maritime operations at the Oakland port, which handles about $39 billion a year in imports and exports, had been "effectively shut down" by the thousands of marchers.
"At this time, maritime operations are effectively shut down at the Port of Oakland. Maritime area operations will resume when it is safe and secure to do so," the port said in a written statement.
Port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said, however, that some activity may continue at the port, which was typically slower in the evening than during the day.
Protesters, who streamed across a freeway overpass to gather in front of the port gates, stood atop tractor-trailers stopped in the middle of the street.
Others climbed onto scaffolding over railroad tracks as a band played a version of the Led Zeppelin song "Whole Lotta Love," using amplifiers powered by stationary bike generators.
The anti-Wall Street activists, who complain bitterly about a financial system they believe benefits mainly corporations and the wealthy, had aimed to disrupt commerce with a special focus on banks and other symbols of corporate America.
Occupy America continues to be a big story and as a potential movement they have done a few things very right:
1) They have harnessed the frustration and anger within us all, especially as it relates to how the American political system doesn't work for the majority.
2) They have remained non violent for the most part, which is immensely powerful
3) And lastly, they have remained persistent in their commitment.
However, the movement needs to move forward or it may die a boring cold winter death. My recommendations for the movement to build on it's success are the following:
1) Don't be mad at the inequalities in life, but rather at the real reasons on how they were built.
We can't go down the road of blaming Wall Street and Bankers or we'll never get to a functional resolution to the anger and frustration.
We need to understand that the inequalities in America are driven in part by failed Federal Reserve policies of the past 20 plus years creating bubbles in virtually every asset.
Asset bubbles syphon the wealth and incomes from the masses into the hands of the few like Wall Street players and corporate executives. This and this alone explains the huge disparity between the 99% and the 1%!
Second, nothing has changed because these types are allowed to buy the political system, and you can't blame them for that, it's the system we have.
Once we understand these components the focus should be on changing what's causing our problems, and less about Wall Street and bankers or the 1%.
Focus on changing how the game of politics is played and a change or closing of the Federal Reserve. These two are how you level the playing field and create more equality.
It's not capitalism or the free market that's created our issues but the way politicians and the Federal Reserve have perverted Capitalism into Crapitalism, and converted free markets into anything but free.
2) Building on the free market or lack there of. It's important to understand that solving the problems we have with government does not come from more government. The size and shape of government is too big and powerful. More of the same old problem is not the answer.
3) They must develop a unique identity that clearly separates them from both the Dems and the GOP. If their movement is to continue, grow in strength, and be relevant, they have to become a solution to the failed dual party system we have now and pull people from both parties to their cause.
4) But what lies at the core of this movement turning into something more successful, possibly framing the near future of America politics is to harness the momentum into a vision of no more than 3-5 must happen changes for a better America.
There's no way to cure all the ills in America and to turn a movement into a viable politic party or cause it has to harness the power of it's success and focus their unity into a few highly powerful concepts that will have the biggest impact on America, benefiting the 99%.
5) Any real or substantive change will cause economic uncertainty, possibly a recession, and financial pain. There's nothing wrong with that, but it needs to be understood. We shouldn't be afraid of recession or deflation if we are moving the country in the right long term direction. It's merely the cost of doing "The Right Business!"
The movement needs to start the process soon otherwise they run the risk of being viewed as a bunch of whining, bitchy, complainers with no plan or resolution. Americans hate a chronic complainer, and they will get board and tired if this doesn't progress.
Hope all is well.
J.D. Rosendahl, Rosey