Protesters demanding a cease-fire in the Israeli war in Gaza blocked a US military supply ship leaving the Port of Oakland for hours Friday by locking themselves to the vessel.
The protesters also blocked the entrance to Berth 20 where the container carrier Cape Orlando is moored. Protest groups say the ship is bound for Israel after being loaded with weapons and military equipment in Tacoma, Washington.
The protest was organized by the San Francisco-based Arab Resource Organizing Center. Police were at the scene of the protest which appeared to number about 200 people, many holding Palestinian flags and signs demanding an end to US military aid to Israel.
The protest began at 6:45 am and has not disrupted any other cargo handling activities, according to a spokesperson for the Port of Oakland.
Three Palestinian supporters were holding on to a rope ladder and refusing to let workers close a door to the military ship. A US Coast Guard negotiator tried to convince them to get off the ship, but protesters refused.
“It’s a US Military ship. It’s destined to go to Tacoma [Washington]pick up US military arms and then take those arms to Israel,” claimed Palestinian protestor Meena Abushamala.
KPIX has not been able to confirm that information with the government.
Abushamala was one of many demonstrators that blocked a port entrance to the ship. She said she lost several relatives in the war.
“One missile killed three generations. An uncle, their son, and their child,” said Abushamala. “I’m angry that our government is still sending aid, missiles to Israel.”
Another Palestinian protestor, Noura Khouri, said she also lost a relative in a bombing last week.
“It’s literally impossible for any of us to sleep, to eat, to work, to carry on with our lives,” Khouri said.
Some Jewish people also joined in the protest.
“I’m here as a Jewish person, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. And I grew up hearing the stories of my grandmother surviving the Nazi’s Holocaust, losing her entire family. And today, Israel is weaponizing my history, the history of my family that was killed, to kill Palestinian families in Gaza,” said Alameda resident Anna Baltzer.
Just before 3 pm, authorities removed the three protesters who held onto the rope ladder, and the ship made its way out of the port. Abushamala and other protesters were disappointed. They hope their action will have a lasting impact on laws.
“No more US military aid to Israel. It is within your power. Do not let the fear stop you,” said Abushamala.
Oakland Police told KPIX it was monitoring the protest and collaborating with the US Coast Guard and the Port of Oakland to ensure the demonstrations remained peaceful. Oakland police told KPIX they had not arrested anyone.
According to a release from AROC, three protesters who climbed onto the vessel were detained by the US Coast Guard — the federal agency with jurisdiction over the water. As it is an ongoing investigation, Coast Guard Petty Officer Hunter Schnabel said Friday evening that he could not provide specifics but confirmed “multiple individuals are currently under investigation.”
The release from AROC called on “communities in cities around the country and across the world to be on alert for vessels carrying similar cargo.”
The vessel’s real-time location can be found online.