November 5, 2023
From Popular Resistance

Above photo: Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

A large demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza was held at the Port of Oakland Friday as activists attempted to prevent a federal ship from leaving the port. A banner displayed at the protest read, “No US military aid to Israel.”

“Cease Fire Now Action” activists held up Palestinian flags as they marched on a dock beside Cape Orlando, a reserve U.S. military vessel.

Videos sent to KRON4 by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center show the crowd standing on the dock and chanting toward crew members on the moored ship. The crowd chanted, “Oakland Port blood on your hands,” and, “We charge you with genocide.” Law enforcement officers responded to the protest scene, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Organizers with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center said they believe the ship is bound for Israel. A spokesperson for AROC wrote, “Community members demanding a ceasefire in the Israeli war against Gaza are blocking the entrance to Berth 20 at the Port of Oakland, where the Cape Orlando, a US military supply vessel bound for Israel is currently waiting to depart. Three protestors locked themselves to the ladder leading onto the ship contributing heavily to the delay of the ship.”

Cape Orlando is under the control of the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson told KRON4. When asked about the ship’s planned destination and purpose, the Coast Guard referred all questions to MARAD.

Oakland Police Department Officer Darryl Rodgers said on Friday afternoon, “OPD is monitoring active demonstrations at the Port of Oakland. OPD is collaborating with the United States Coast Guard and the Port of Oakland to ensure the demonstrations remain peaceful. No arrests have been made by at this time.”

A Port of Oakland spokesperson told KRON4 that the demonstration did not impact on the flow of commerce at the Oakland Seaport.

Cape Orlando was moored at the Port of Oakland until it embarked out of the San Francisco Bay around 4 p.m., according to a live Marine Traffic map.

Activists with AROC said they believe that Cape Orlando’s next stop will be in Tacoma, WA, where it will be loaded with military equipment before it sails to Israel.

“This genocide is being funded by our government and they’re sending weapons starting from our city,” said Lara Kiswani, executive director of AROC. “While the ship ultimately left, we delayed it for over nine hours.”

Israeli troops battling Hamas militants encircled Gaza City on Thursday, the military said, as the Palestinian death toll rose above 9,000.

The U.S. has pledged unwavering support for Israel after Hamas militants killed hundreds of men, women and children on Oct. 7 and took some 240 people captive. But President Joe Biden’s administration has pushed for Israel to let more aid into Gaza amid growing alarm over the destruction and humanitarian crisis in the tiny Mediterranean enclave.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to the region for talks Friday in Israel following Biden’s suggestion for a humanitarian “pause” in the fighting. The aim would be to let in aid for Palestinians and let out more foreign nationals and wounded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.