Port takeovers, foreclosed homes, empty lots … everything!

Portland re-occupation in Shemanski Park

From KPTV. Dec 6:
Occupy Portland plans to take over ports

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Occupy Portland plans to join other Occupy groups to shut down ports across the west coast Dec. 12.

Organizers said the shutdown will focus on how the 1 percent use the ports, international trade and even the spirit of Christmas to profit from the 99 percent.

The movement planned to form a community blockade at the Port of Portland and disrupt business. Members have termed the day “Wall Street on the Waterfront.”

SLIDESHOW: Protesters try to occupy Shemanski Park
SLIDESHOW: The eviction of Occupy Portland
RELATED: Occupy costs surpass $1 million in police overtime

Organizers said the shutdown is partly in solidarity with the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union, which has been involved in a labor dispute in Longview, WA.

However, the president of the union previously told the Portland Tribune that the union does not support the shutdown.

Organizers said several west coast Occupy groups have responded to the call to shut down the waterfront, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Seattle, Tacoma and Anchorage.

Occupy Portland approved the action Nov. 26.

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Oakland General Strike, Nov 2nd

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From MSNBC. Dec 6:
Housing and ‘Occupy’ activists take aim at foreclosed homes, empty lots
By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com

Housing activists and “Occupy”protesters were gearing up Tuesday to take over foreclosed homes and empty lots and help defend families facing eviction in at least 25 cities as part of a bid to re-energize the grassroots movement and put the spotlight on the ongoing housing crisis.

From towns such as Southgate, Mich., and Lake Worth, Fla., to cities like Portland, Ore., and Chicago, activists were planning to disrupt auctions on foreclosed homes, hold candlelight vigils and join families battling eviction in their residences. In Denver, they were intending to dump trash from empty homes on the mayor’s lawn; in Minneapolis they planned to help a veteran remain in his foreclosed home; in New York they planned to move a homeless family into an abandoned home.

“Like September 17, when Occupy Wall Street started, people looked at it and there was this real question, ‘Is this going to last? how is it going to grow?’ and one of the reasons it grew is that as people stayed down at Zuccotti Park … other people were inspired to take action,” said Matt Browner Hamlin, an activist with occupyourhomes.org. “This is not something (where) … we want a family to have a home for a day, we want them to have that home for a lifetime.”

“Occupy” protesters already have been squatting in vacant houses in cities like New York, Seattle, Portland, Oakland and London, where protesters have taken over an abandoned office block bought by UBS several years ago and dubbed it the “Bank of Ideas.” They also have made scattered efforts – some of them successful — to help families facing eviction defend their homes in California, West Harlem, and Minneapolis, among other places.

Banks are expected to repossess some 800,000 homes this year, down from more than 1 million last year, said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio. But the number of U.S. homes that received a first-time default notice during the July to September quarter increased 14 percent compared to the second quarter of the year, according to the firm.

The increase is a sign that banks are now moving more aggressively against borrowers who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments following industrywide foreclosure processing problems that emerged last fall. Those problems resulted in a sharp drop in foreclosure activity early this year.

Click here for all the developments on this breaking news story.

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From Nov 13 eviction @ Occupy Portland

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From Security Director News. Dec 6:
Occupy protests a concern for the financial sector

Security practitioners from healthcare and transportation sectors share lessons from Occupy protests

YARMOUTH, Maine—As the Occupy movement continues to make headlines around the country, security directors in several sectors other than financial are facing protests. Security Director News asked several security experts, some who already have faced Occupy protests, what security directors need to keep in mind when preparing for these protests.

The Occupy protests have made clear the power of social media to gather large groups of people in short periods of time to protest businesses, policies, or just to protest without an emphasis on one particular issue. “This is a surprise to most of us,” said Bob Oatman of R.L. Oatman & Associates, which provides risk assessments and executive protection services for corporate clients.

What this new paradigm means for many security directors is that sometimes they may not have as much advanced intelligence about what to expect as they would like, Oatman told Security Director News. “So the dynamics are changing. You really have to have that flexibility to provide the right level of security without causing undo stress or crisis within the company itself,” he said. “It’s no easy task when you’re in the midst of these things.”

Even if there is plenty of prior warning and all standard operating procedures have been reviewed and enhanced where necessary, there’s an element of the unknown that’s very hard to prepare for, Oatman said. “Even though you may have [the intelligence], the game book hasn’t been written.”

Local law enforcement will always play a large role in these public protests, no matter where they materialize, but Oatman warns security directors not to rely too heavily on the police. “These things can get out of hand very, very quickly,” he said. “And so you have to take ownership—that’s the word I like to use all the time—we can’t rely just on law enforcement. We as security practitioners have to take ownership of these things. It’s our job to protect our property, the principals and the workforce.”

One thing he said is very important in these situations is internal training of all employees on security principles, not just those tasked with security responsibilities, Oatman said. “I think the best defense is your offense, and that is good security awareness training for your folks. It’s important to understand we’re all part of this security apparatus.”

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While the Occupy protesters weren’t able to shut down the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 17 (For an account of the Occupy Wall Street attempts to shut down the stock exchange, see “Securing the New York Stock Exchange in the face of Occupy Wall Street”), protesters in Oakland were able to shut down the Port of Oakland for several hours on Nov. 2. And Occupy organizers are planning another port shutdown in several west coast cities on Dec. 12.

Marilyn Sandifur, a spokesperson for the Oakland port, told SDN that while the protesters were able to prevent the third shift, which began at 7pm, from working, the port succeeded in its goal of accommodating the protests while keeping its employees, property and protesters safe.

Port of Oakland does not have its own security force like some ports. It leases its terminals to private companies, which staff their own gates with security guards. The inner roads of the port are owned by the city and patrolled by the Oakland Police Department. But for the protests, the port staffed its own emergency operations center, which included several stakeholders such as the U.S. Coast Guard. The EOC was set up for disaster situations, but the protests offered a good opportunity to use it and learn some lessons that will be kept in mind for future events. “This was an opportunity to see how we could improve,” she said.

One issue was that the EOC ended up being too small, forcing some of the staff to work out of their office, Sandifur said. Another was that a plan hadn’t been put in place to provide for shift changes within the EOC, forcing many staff members to be on the job from morning into the night. “We did have some people working very long hours and I think in hindsight it would have been better to switch people out,” she said. “They did a great job, but you don’t want to wear out your staff.”

Another lesson is make sure to keep in mind any access control issues that may arise from having so many people coming and going, Sandifur said. Even some staff may have access permission for certain hours that would need to be altered if that person is needed for an extended amount of time outside their normal schedule.

In addition, make sure you have key people in the EOC, she said. “I think the people you select for your team is very important,” she said. “A really important person to have is an IT person because if there’s any technical glitches, you want them to go into action immediately.”

Sandifur also noted several practical lessons the port will utilize next time there’s a need to staff the EOC: Make sure enough food and water is supplied for staff and the many people that pass through the EOC, make sure there are cell phone rechargers available, have television sets to provide live video feeds from the local news outlets, and have a pre-compiled list of all contact numbers that might be needed in the course of an event so staff aren’t needing to run back to their office for a phone number.

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The healthcare sector has also been targeted by Occupy protests. Bryan Warren, senior manager of corporate security at Carolinas Healthcare System, faced an Occupy protest at its Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. “While this event was certainly a success due to the pre-planning by our security department and absence of any disruptions to patient care, there are always opportunities for improvement in any process,” he told Security Director News in an email interview.

One of the lessons learned from the event is the need for reliable communication between all agencies involved. “If two-way radio interoperability between agencies does not exist, make certain that you have the appropriate plans to provide for routine information updates between members of each department (such as stationing a police officer in your command center),” Warren said.

If you’re expecting protests, it’s important to know where public and private property begin and end so you know where the protesters can be and what areas you can cordon off, Warren said. “Property lines and right of way can and do change from time to time with expansion and construction efforts (a constant in the healthcare industry),” he said. “Make certain that property maps and drawings are readily available and routinely updated.”

While no security director wishes for protests, such events do offer an opportunity for a well-run security department to shine within the larger organization. “Internal communications with a facility’s administration and staff well in advance of the event not only prevents confusion or misperceptions, but also serves to demonstrate the value of a well-designed and properly managed security program,” Warren said.

Finally, maintaining a good relationship with local law enforcement should be a necessity for any security director, Warren said. “The value of relationships with law enforcement cannot be overstated,” he said. “Healthcare security leaders should make every attempt to create and maintain liaisons with their peers in local police departments and other agencies so that their input and cooperation can strengthen existing partnerships and provide an ‘early warning system’ for community events that might potentially impact healthcare facilities.”

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TAZ squat in Berlin

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