LONGVIEW, Wash. Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.
A federal judge ordered union protesters to stop using illegal tactics Thursday as they battle for the right to work at a new grain terminal in Washington state.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton issued a preliminary injunction to restrict union activity, saying there was no defense for the aggressive tactics used in recent days.
Duscha also said that six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack.
This was not like the peaceful protests we've seen in the past. The protesters today were loud, aggressive and assaulted my officers, added Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson. When our officers went in to make peaceful, lawful trespass arrests, they were rushed by a mob of hundreds of protesters who were resistive and throwing things at the officers.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that's staffing a workforce of other union laborers.
A similar protest was also going on in Washington state, where workers reportedly walked off the job around 1:30 a.m. in the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. By mid morning, several freight trucks were parked outside the Port of Seattle terminal because of the walkout.
More: Walkout at Wash. ports
There were no problems being reported at the Port of Vancouver or the Port of Portland.
Police from several agencies in southwest Washington, the Washington State Patrol and Burlington Northern Santa Fe responded to the violence to secure the scene that followed a demonstration Wednesday.
We're not surprised, Duscha said. A lot of the protesters were telling us this in only the start.
One sergeant was threatened with baseball bats and retreated, Duscha said. One officer with hundreds of Longshoremen? He used the better part of discretion.
The train was the first grain shipment to arrive at Longview. It arrived Wednesday night after police arrested 19 demonstrators who tried to block the tracks. They were led by ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, who said they would return.
The blockade appeared to defy a federal restraining order issued last week against the union after it was accused of assaults and death threats.
EGT chief executive Larry Clarke said it was unfortunate that law enforcement needed to make arrests.