Monday, July 14th @ 8pm
Clinton Street Theater
SE 26th & Clinton
Other films to be shown: Kendra James Rally and "Sacramento Rough Cut"
Tuesday, July 15th @ 7pm
ILWU Local 8 Hall
2435 NW Front Avenue
Other films to be shown: Day X, a film about the day of bombing protests in PDX
On April 7, in the most brutal attack yet on antiwar demonstrators in the U.S., authorities in Oakland attacked protesters with shotguns firing wooden dowels, rifles shooting "beanbags" full of birdshot, and "stingballs"--a rubber grenade filled with approximately 80 .45 caliber rubber balls surrounding an explosive charge. Hundreds of the wooden bullets and bean bags and dozens of stingball grenades were fired at protesters over a period of more than two hours during an antiwar protest at the Port of Oakland. 500 protesters blocked a gate at the Port of Oakland. The police arrested 31 people and dozens were injured, including six longshoremen who were waiting to go to work. Some of the injuries were severe. A longshoreman required surgery after being hit in the hand. Several protesters were hit in the head and had blood streaming down their faces. Other protesters lifted their shirts to reveal a number of large discolored welts caused by the wooden bullets. Sri Louise was shot in the face by the police as she sat on the ground doing yoga at one of the entrances. At a city council meeting the day after the protest she held up a picture of herself, published in newspapers nationwide, showing a huge purple golfball-sized welt to her jaw and a large crescent shaped bruise on her neck.
"This picture is all over the world," Louise said. "The entire world is watching." We are writing this letter to ask you to join us in protesting the police violence against a peaceful community picketline at the Port of Oakland the morning of April 7 and in demanding a thorough investigation by the Oakland City Council of this police misconduct. As you may have read in the media, or in the postings we sent out yesterday afternoon, the Oakland police used brute force to disperse a crowd of more than 500 antiwar activists who had assembled peacefully in front of two shipping companies -- APL and Stevedore Services of America -- to protest their role in the U.S.-led war on Iraq. This was a case of unprovoked violence on the part of the police. Indeed, the police had assembled in riot gear, even though the protesters -- in all their calls for the action -- had insisted this was to be a peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights to picket and protest. The protesters had established a moving, legal picketline. There was no attempt by any workers or any truckers to get through the line.
The longshore workers were standing by, waiting for a determination from an arbitrator as to whether it was safe for them to go to work that morning. Such a "health and safety" determination is required under the union contract, as longshore workers in the past have been injured in similar situations. When the police issued their order for the activists to disperse within three minues to clear the entrances to the terminal, the protesters began to disperse -- as they had pledged to do in advance to avoid any confrontation. Activists on the scene report that the police began shooting their para-military projectiles (wooden bullets, concussion grenades, etc. -- many of them fired directly at the body at close range) 30 seconds after issuing this dispersal order. The universal message from the protesters was that they were not given ample time to disperse.
The demonstrators categorically deny the police claim that someone from the crowd had thrown rocks at the police, or that they had refused to disperse. But not only were the protesters on the picketline shot at. Nine members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union were shot by the police, though they were standing by at a safe distance awaiting a determination from the arbitrator. Five ILWU members had to be taken to the hospital, with one member requiring surgery on his thumb. Many were shot in the back. Moreover, when a business agent of ILWU Local 10, Jack Heyman, went to the police to inform them that two ILWU members had been shot and that he was going to instruct all ILWU members to leave the area, he was dragged from his car, thrown onto the pavement, handcuffed and then sent to jail, where he remained for 14 hours. These acts of police misconduct are outrageous and must be condemned as yet another attack on civil liberties and democratic rights. Working people have the right to peaceful assembly and protest, including picketing. We in the OWC call on the labor movement across the United States and internationally to send statements of protest addressed to Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, calling for a full investigation into this police violence on the Oakland docks.