News Editor Denis Theriault has been up at Portland's port since 6 am, where he reports that about 500-600 protesters gathered at dawn despite the freezing temperatures. He just called in to give us the rundown on what's going on:
At about six in the morning, everyone gathered at Kelley Point Park. One guy had a white Occupy school bus, but a lot of people drove or biked, even though it was so frosty that it looked like it snowed. People gathered for about a half hour, then split into two groups and marched to port terminals five and six. There were several bike cops visible, but not taking any action.
The groups have blocked the roads that lead to the terminals from Marine Drive. At terminal six, there were about 20 riot cops inside the terminal, but none came out when the protesters blocked off the road. Police spokesman Robert King did bring out some port people for a TV interview, but that's all. The Rumorz Cafe kids have been bringing coffee around. There's food, there's drumming.
There have been a few clashes with truck drivers who are trying to steer their big rigs into the terminals. There was one tense incident where a truck driver was trying to head in, the group was going to let him in but then the driver scooted forward and almost hit someone. The crowd got angry, gathered up right up against the grill of the truck, and started chanting, "Shut it down! Shut it down!" The driver said he was going to call the police, but then turned around and drove away.
An informal General Assembly at the protest has decided to let trucks through, writing on Twitter: "Port is shut down. We need to keep business moving for the 99%."
UPDATE 11:38am— I just talked with Port of Portland spokesman Josh Thomas to figure out the impact of the protest. Thomas says that there's no estimate for the economic impact of the shutdown yet, but that activity at Terminal Six, the port's busiest terminal, has completely ceased. Even if the protest does allow trucks through to the terminal, the people who would usually load and unload cargo were all told not to come into work today. "No activity will happen there," says Thomas. Whether workers will be paid or not paid for this day off depends on their individual contracts, says Thomas. All the work at the port—the longshore workers, the truckers—is subcontracted. Some of the workers will definitely not be paid, says Thomas.
Terminal Five is an export terminal, so today's protest is disrupting exports of grain and potash. Terminal Six is an import-export facility, so the protest is disrupting import of cars and steel.
Many more photos below the cut!
All these photos are by Justin Riley: