Oakland: Dockworkers Shut Down Major Port, Thousands March for Juneteenth

By Felipe Vera, with contributions from David Martinez

On June 19, thousands of dockworkers and protesters halted the movement of cargo from the port of Oakland, in commemoration of Juneteenth and in protest against police violence.

The shutdown came in the wake of the recent uprisings following the murder of George Floyd, and was led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in Oakland in coordination with supportive actions across nearly 30 ports along the West coast.

Bobby Grant, uncle of Oscar Grant, addresses the crowd.

The march began at the shut down port and stretched for miles, eventually arriving at Oakland City Hall. Speakers from Warehouse Union Local 10, which is predominantly Black, denounced the planned rezoning of portions of the port into an entertainment complex, including a new Major League Baseball stadium. Marchers chanted “Stop the cranes and say their names” in reference to the project and the Black people killed by police violence.

Other speakers at the rally were the families of those slain by police violence, including Michael Brown Sr. – father of Michael Brown, whose murder by police in Ferguson sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Postmodernist academic, Angela Davis, who had been riding along in a separate vehicle, also addressed the crowd. Over the last election cycle, Davis described those who choose not to vote for imperialist Democratic Party candidates like Hillary Clinton as “narcissistic.” Davis was a key player in the revisionist CPUSA’s work to destroy revolutionary politics in the US left, and has maintained this trajectory ever since.

The dockworkers in Oakland have a notable reputation for conducting solidarity actions with national and international struggles, including refusing to load Israeli cargo over the past decade in solidarity with Palestinian resistance, the workers taking action sometimes at odds with their union leadership.

Although over 157 years have passed since the end of slavery in the US, systemic racist policies and attacks against Black people continue today. This oppression has always been met with both spontaneous and organized resistance, from uprisings to mass mobilizations, to the coordinated strikes like the one in the port of Oakland.