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Occupy Oakland: Truckers at port support protesters

November 2, 2011 |  7:39 pm

Occupy Oakland demonstrators who converged on the Port of Oakland on Wednesday evening said  truckers were mostly supportive of their cause, honking, waving and even allowing protesters to scramble on the roofs of their trailers.

"When the crowd started dying down they'd honk and wave to get us excited," said Audra Casanova, 26, of Oakland, who marched with her husband and 6-month-old baby, Alexander.

Casanova, a UC Berkeley comparative literature student with $42,000 in educational debt, said:  "We're fighting for our children, really, so they're not owned by federal loans like we are."

Mann Singh, 42, of Pittsburg sat patiently in his truck with a smile on his face.

"I'm happy. I'm supporting them," he said as demonstrators crowded the area listening to music.

Singh said he arrived at 4:30 p.m. with an empty truck, hoping to park it and go home. But as demonstrators gathered in numbers "I stopped to support them."

The independent contractor for Bay City Express Inc. said he was content to wait it out.

"It's OK. I'll sleep in here," he said softly, pointing to the cab of his 18-wheeler. "I just need food. I'm hungry."

One organizer with a bullhorn suggested that demonstrators let some trucks leave. But one protester grumbled, "That's not shutting down the port."

Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said the Pacific Maritime Assn. has ordered hundreds of workers to arrive for their 7 p.m. shift.

"They will do everything possible to get in but if they can't they'll have to tell their employer," he said.

Police have made no arrests and have only had minimal presence throughout the day's demonstrations around the city. Officials estimated the number of protesters at 4,500, but some media reports said the crowd was closer to 10,000.

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-- Lee Romney in Oakland

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