Reflections on Gulf Port Action
One year ago today, Occupy Oakland declared a National Day of Action against Goldman-Sachs.
The action would center on the Port of Oakland, which they shut down for over two days. Solidarity actions around the country took place at other ports, at Walmart distribution centers, and Goldman-Sachs offices in New York City.
About 200 occupiers from around Texas gathered at Occupy Houston’s encampment, Tranquility Park, and from there traveled to the Port of Houston where we blockaded the main entrance. There were twenty arrests.
I wrote about the Gulf Port Action on my blog, Approximately 8,000 Words and what it was like to step out onto the road around the port and see an army of law enforcement waiting for us:
l felt a little overwhelmed as we jumped from the car at the port, seeing a massive collection of law enforcement might. There were helicopters overhead, a couple dozen officers lining the street including mounted police on horses, and, behind a fence inside the port itself, we could see dozens more including a bus for arrests and the sheriff and SWAT team.
I’d never been to the port before, and there was a palpable sense of almost Cyberpunk-level desolation. The air smelled as bad as you imagine it does in a William Gibson book. At first there were few of us, but more and more began to get dropped off in waves until we had a couple hundred protesters at the peak, finally outnumbering the police. We chanted and spoke with a few members of the mainstream media that had managed to get inside. Then, suddenly, everyone — police and occupiers alike — were running.
Though I did not intend to do more than chant, observe, and livetweet, in the intense response to the blockade I found myself helping form a human wall to keep occupiers from being trampled by horses. Though I have attended many other activist events, including eluding a potentially violent arrest inside Chase headquarters at the September 17, 2012 anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, these attacks by police were the most intense I have personally faced. Despite our efforts, a young woman near me was kicked in the stomach by a mounted officer’s steel-toed boots while a hoof stomped the shoe of Corey Williams, an Austin livestreamer (whose footwear was fortunately also reinforced). And then came the most psychologically violent act of the day: the ‘one percent tent.’ In an image that quickly went viral (and contributed to Oakland continuing its blockade into a second day), Houston Fire Department firefighters assembled a red inflatable tent over the activists to hide arrests from sight.
A Direct Attack on Corrupt Capitalism