Occupy San Diego Protests at Port

Occupy San Diego Protests at Port (December 12, 2011)

SAN DIEGO -- Five people were arrested Monday when several dozen Occupy San Diego protesters tried to blockade the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal Monday as part of a series of efforts to shut down commercial ports on the West Coast.

The local demonstrators gathered at about 6 a.m. at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan and marched from there to the port carrying banners and chanting slogans, including "Whose port? Our port!" They then began picketing the entrance to the marine terminal and blocking it when workers tried to walk in.

Operations at the port were not altered. Workers continued to unload two cargo ships: one bringing bananas from Ecuador and the other loaded with windmill parts from Asia, officials said.

A large police presence was at the port entrance monitoring the protest.  Five protesters were arrested after they apparently attempted to block trucks from entering the terminal.

The protest was an effort to raise "awareness of the unfair and unjust business practices of multinational corporations," according to the Occupy San Diego website.

Another protest was scheduled for Monday afternoon at the USS Midway museum at the Embarcadero, Occupy San Diego organizers said.

The demonstrations are part of a nationwide day of protest called in the aftermath of efforts by cities across the country, including New York, Boston and Oakland, to clear demonstrators from encampments they had set up in public parks and other locations.

"We are occupying the ports as part of a day of action, boycott and march for full legalization and good jobs for all to draw attention to and protest the criminal system of concentrated wealth that depends on local and global exploitation of working people, and the denial of workers' rights to organize for decent pay, working conditions and benefits, in disregard for the environment and the health and safety of surrounding communities," organizers said on their website.

Port officials say shutting down their facilities will only cost workers and their communities wages and tax revenue.

Port of San Diego board chairman Scott Peters issued an open letter to the community on Sunday asking that protesters not disrupt work.

"The Port of San Diego is made up of working people with families who serve the public each day by helping to bring in goods that are important to the people of the San Diego region," Peters wrote.

"They are the 99 percent, the gardeners, the maintenance workers, the dock workers, the Harbor Police officers, the office workers, the environmental workers -- all working to improve the quality of life in San Diego Bay and on its surrounding lands," he said. "It is these people who would be hurt by a blockade of our Port."