Union Longshoremen 'Storm' Port of Longview, Cause Mass Destruction, Say Police

A long-simmering standoff between International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers and the Port of Longview turned destructive this morning, police say, when hundreds of striking workers "stormed" the port, smashing windows, cutting brake lines, spilling grain, and holding security guards hostage.

Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha tells Seattle Weekly that the incident happened about 4:30 a.m. this morning at the port's EGT terminal.

"At this point we know they pushed a private security truck into ditch, broke windows in a guard shack, cut brake lines of a rail car, and dumped grain," Duscha says. "We have investigative teams working right now. We certainly hope there will be arrests."

Other reports tell of the workers overpowering security guards and holding several hostage for a couple hours.

No injuries were reported and no arrests have so far been made.

We reached out to the ILWU for the union's side of the story, but a representative wasn't immediately available.

UPDATE: ILWU spokesman Roy San Filippo tells us that while some grain may have been spilled, reports of window-breaking and hostage-taking are "completely inaccurate."

He also says that the incident was a response to ILWU International President Robert McEllrath being detained and "manhandled" by police on Wednesday.

"It's important to emphasize the fact that no arrests were made," San Filippo says. "It's understandable that people get upset and desperate when good jobs are taken away from communities. Corporate America has turned its back on working people. It shouldn't be a surprise to see people step forward and try to fight back."

The workers have been on strike for months now, ever since the port contracted with non-union and other union members for labor.

Hours before the incident, 19 longshoremen were arrested for blocking the train tracks so grain shipments couldn't get in to the port.

While it's unclear what specifically sparked the incident, the gumshoe commenters over at Fox News appear to have found the culprit: President Obama and Jimmy Hoffa.

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