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Occupy the Ports protest blocks trucks, curbs business throughout West Coast

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Officers moved in Monday evening after Occupy Seattle protesters tried to set up a makeshift barrier near the entrances to two terminals, using scraps of wood and aluminum debris.

Occupy protesters block a truck near a Portland, Ore. port. (Photo: Associated Press)

Police Detective Jeff Kappel said demonstrators blocked traffic and hurled flares, bags of paint and other debris at officers and police horses. He says one officer was treated by medics after a bag of paint hit his face.

In Portland, a couple hundred protesters blocked semitrailers from making deliveries at two major terminals.

Security concerns were raised when police found two people in camouflage clothing with a gun, sword and walkie-talkies who said they were doing reconnaissance.

In Alaska, Occupy Anchorage protesters showed solidarity with their West Coast counterparts by focusing on port issues, though they took a different tack in Alaska's largest city.

Rather than try to shut down the port — which is only open two days a week and Monday was not one of them — protesters assembled to highlight what they said was mismanagement and the proposed expansion of the Port of Anchorage, which handles most goods consumed by Alaskans.

Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University and an authority on social movements, said the Occupy movement is highly ambitious and would continue to expand and diversify. He has said that the 1960s anti-war movement grew gradually for years until bursting onto the world stage during the election year of 1968.

"I would assume that the action today is going to be representative of what's going to be happening from now on," Gitlin said. "There will be more of a tendency toward militant disruptive activity. There's going to be a number of coordinated actions and this is going to go on for months."

Some port officials lament the loss of pay for longshoremen and truck drivers, who are not among the nation's wealthy elite — and protesters would say are among the 99 percent.

"Today's disruptions have been costly to port workers and their families in terms of lost wages and shifts," Port of Oakland spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur. She noted that the Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the United States and intended to open as usual Tuesday morning.

Gitlin said while the Occupy Wall Street movement is not as focused as the 1960s protests against the Vietnam War, it is in many ways more ambitious.

"The goal of the anti-war movement could be agreed upon by everyone who took part in it," he said. "There was a convergence. This is a long and deep process to fight against the power of the wealthy. That was a huge social convulsion that involved millions of people; this present movement has that potential, but it will be a long time before we know how far it goes."

Some longshoremen supported the Occupy Oakland protesters, even though they lost a day's wages. But some of the truck drivers who had to wait in long lines as protesters blocked gates said the demonstrators were harming the very people they were trying to help.

"This is joke. What are they protesting?" said Christian Vega, who sat in his truck carrying a load of recycled paper. He said the delay was costing him $600. "It only hurts me and the other drivers.

"We have jobs and families to support and feed," he said. "Most of them don't."

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