Port of Oakland officials are concerned that recent protest activity could be bad for future business. This week pro-Palestinian activists blocked a cargo ship with Israeli ties from unloading for several days. Longshore workers had refused to unload the ship, saying the situation made them feel unsafe.
"As recently as 2003, Oakland police were engaged in unprovoked attacks on protesters, and involved several longshore workers who were also struck by projectiles fired from Oakland police using riot guns," said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in San Francisco.
Merrilees was referring to April 2003 anti-war protests at the port, where police shot bean bags into the crowd and injured several longshore workers and dozens of protesters.
"That memory lingers, and there's an ongoing concern from longshore workers where the police and protesters are mixed up in front of the workplace," Merrilees said.
Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said disruptions like this protest can jeopardize the port's competitiveness. "A concern of ours is again whenever there are attempts to try to stop the flow of international commerce through our seaports, because our business partners across the Pacific, they're watching," Bernardo said.