Anchorage occupiers try to make a point about the port

NO SHUTDOWN: They back Outside demonstrators but don't block work here.

Anchorage Daily NewsDecember 12, 2011 

A group of a dozen-plus Occupy Anchorage protestors -- with about as many news reporters and photographers following along -- marched and rallied Monday afternoon in protest of the expensive and beleaguered Port of Anchorage expansion and in support of efforts to shut down ports all along the West Coast.

They had a lot of ideas and issues: Accountability in government. Accountability of corporations and financial institutions. Locally grown food. World peace.

The Anchorage group didn't try to shut down the port, calling it an essential facility for Alaska. But some in the group walked toward it and unveiled a big banner that read "Solidarity."

A visually impaired computer instructor marched. So did a physician's assistant who works on the North Slope, a University of Alaska Anchorage soon-to-be graduate, and an engineer from Ohio vacationing in Alaska.

"Power to the people! People power!" Josh Tucker, 26, sang out. He was holding a red and black anarchist flag and later held a U.S.-style striped flag that replaced the stars with corporate logos. Tucker is graduating this week from UAA with a journalism degree. He had to make a finals presentation later in the afternoon.

Marchers hoisted signs: "I Have a Job. Give a Damn." "Boondoggle." "We're Not Disorganized. America Has Too Many Issues."

They were peaceful but loud.

Tina Robinson, who goes by Tina Sapphire Berry on Facebook, is a 23-year-old who led the chanting.

"Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go!"

"That means you, Hilton!" Matthew Moll, 19, shouted as they filed past the hotel. He held a sign for a living wage and against union busting. He said he's an occupier and has been staying in a tent at Town Square, where the rally began.

Anchorage police Lt. Anthony Henry told the marchers to be careful crossing the street.

One of the organizers, Brian MacMillan, 45, stood in front of an old train engine at the Alaska Railroad depot and read a fake resignation letter from Port Director Bill Sheffield. The expansion project is stalled under a cloud of construction and financial troubles. It has mushroomed from what was envisioned as a $360 million project in 2005 to one with a billion dollar price tag. Mayor Dan Sullivan has proposed scaling it back.

The project manager, Integrated Concepts and Research Corp., or ICRC, has an office in the railroad building. The letter was written as if Sheffield took responsibility and apologized for the project.

"We're here to send a message out to them and to Bill Sheffield for the mismanagement of the Port of Anchorage expansion," MacMillan said.

MacMillan, who works in a union job backstage at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, gave a shout out to longshoremen, Teamsters and building trade union members who work at the port.

"Our action today is not against you," MacMillan said. "It is against the corporate greed and waste of funding that has been the legacy of the Port of Anchorage expansion project."

Sheffield didn't have much comment on the protest.

"They are just misinformed," he said. The group had never talked to him, he said.

MacMillan proposed a town hall meeting for the public on the port project.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

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