Multiple arrests as Occupy protesters rally outside Port of Seattle

Credit: Joe Fryer / KING 5 News

Occupy Seattle protesters erect a makeshift barrier outside Terminal 5 in West Seattle.


by KING 5 News

Posted on December 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 13 at 1:03 AM

SEATTLE -- Eleven people were arrested Monday afternoon as Occupy Seattle protesters clashed with police at the Port of Seattle as part of the movement's larger effort to shut down ports along the West Coast.
Police say demonstrators blocked vehicular traffic at Harbor Island and began throwing flares, bags of bricks and paint, rebar and other debris at the police officers monitoring the demonstration.  At least one officer was injured after being struck in the face with a bag of paint, police said. 

Protesters temporarily shut down a road leading into Terminal 18.  They also blocked an employee entrance at Terminal 5 by lining up road blockades and a dumpster in the parking lot.  Other protesters linked arms in front of the entrance.

Workers who arrived there Monday night were told it was not safe to go to their jobs so they were sent home.  Occupy Seattle claims those workers will still get paid, despite missing work.

Protesters said they were trying to send a message to major corporations by trying to shut down the ports. 

"I feel it's a definite victory," said Ian Finkenbinder, a media representative for Occupy Seattle.  "Have we knee-capped them? No. But we did give them a moment of pause."

But the Port of Seattle, in an online statement, said, "There was minimal impact to cargo movement today."

Police used flash-bang grenades and pepper spray in an attempt to disperse Occupy protesters who were blocking Klickitat Avenue SW, a pathway for port traffic getting on and off Harbor Island.

Occupy Seattle protesters set up wooden crates and aluminum on the road when police on bicycles moved in to clear the area so traffic could get through.

At the Terminal 18, Gate 1 entrance, which was temporarily closed during the protest Monday afternoon, KING 5's Joe Fryer overheard one protester say, "This pier is shut down -- we've already won here."

Earlier, a few hundred Occupy protesters marched from Westlake Park through downtown Seattle. Traffic along 2nd Ave. was interrupted as the march passed through. Some estimates placed the crowd size at about 400.
Demonstrators said they did not plan to break into port property or to sabotage equipment, but organizers said they planned to block traffic into the Port of Seattle in solidarity with other Occupy port protests planned in Washington (Tacoma, Olympia and Longview) and up and down the West Coast (including Vancouver, B.C.; San Diego; Long Beach; Oakland; and Portland.

Shortly before 4 p.m., the Seattle Dept. of Transportation said the Occupy Seattle presence was creating significant traffic delays in Seattle's SoDo district. Monday's evening commute was already complicated by a Seahawks game scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

Occupy protesters have said they're standing up for port workers, but the Longshoremen's union is not supporting the blockade.

"This is an independent action. It's not affiliated with any unions," said Mark Taylor-Canfield with Occupy Seattle. "The Occupy groups want to stand up for working people and they wanna directly confront the corporations that are making millions of dollars at the ports on the West Coast of the United States."

"People that are going to the port are there to support the unions and support the working people across the country. They're not there to cause any problems, just there to express themselves," Canfield added.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents many thousands of longshoremen up and down the West Coast, has distanced itself from the shutdown effort. The union's president suggested in a letter to members that protesters were attempting to co-opt the union's cause to advance their own agenda.

"It's crucial. Just one day's of lost wages is in the millions," said Charla Skaggs with the Port of Seattle. "So we really need the men and women who work here to collect that pay and bring that home to their families."

Reporting by KING 5's Meg Coyle, Joe Fryer, Teresa Yuan, and the Associated Press.