Update (6:24 pm PT):
Hundreds of protesters succeeded Monday in blocking the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU, from loading weapons onto a ship docked at the Port of Tacoma in Washington State and believed to be headed to Israel, which has killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza in a month of heavy bombing.
In an Instagram post published around 4:50 pm PT, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) Bay Area said that demonstrators picketed the port for 12 hours and managed to delay the ship by more than eight. While ILWU workers were not able to load the vessel, military personnel managed to secure the cargo.
“Today they wanted to get in and out as fast as they could because they are ashamed of what they’re doing,” one demonstrator said in a video shared on AROC Bay Area’s Instagram. “They didn’t want us to be able to be here and stop them.”
“We showed the world that Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, no one in the Pacific Northwest is going to say it’s OK to commit genocide,” they added.
The ILWU had originally been scheduled to load the MV Cape Orlando between 7 and 8 am local time, according to a schedule shared by local Real Change News reporter Guy Oron. However, ILWU workers toldBreakThrough News that dispatch told them Monday morning the ship would be loaded by military personnel already inside the terminal when the protest started. ILWU workers have a right not to work any vessels that present “health and safety” concerns such as a demonstration, and one worker told BreakThrough they would not cross a picket line.
One worker already on board the ship was inspired by the protest to disembark and left a message for the more than 1,000 protesters.
“Keep fighting, unionize, show the great powers of the world that we, united, can overcome senseless slaughter and develop a global consciousness for one another’s humanity,” the worker said in a message shared by AROC Bay Area. “I am not special by any means. All of you and I are one.”
The organizers said that activists would continue to track the ship en route to Israel.
“Our comrades across the world are going to be showing up at the next place this boat goes,” the organizer in the AROC Bay Area Instagram video said.
Update (3:40 pm PT):
Several dozen Puyallup Nation Water Warriors in three to five kayaks joined an action Monday afternoon to block the MV Cape Orlando from leaving the Port of Tacoma from the water. They supported hundreds of demonstrators on land who had been so far successful at preventing the boat from being loaded with weapons believed to be bound for Israel, which has killed more than 10,000 in its month-long bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds of protesters blocked the Port of Tacoma in Washington State on Monday morning to prevent workers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union from loading weapons onto a ship believed to be headed to Israel.
The action comes as more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by nearly a month of Israeli airstrikes, nearly 40% of them children. It follows an earlier attempt by Palestinian solidarity activists to block the boat, the MV Cape Orlando, from leaving the Port of Oakland on Friday.
“I’m here today to support the blocking of the genocide boat currently docked in Tacoma with the intention of loading and delivering military weapons to aid the Zionist occupation state of Israel in their genocide of the Palestinian people,” Bissan Barghouti of Samidoun Seattle, a Palestinian rights advocacy group, said in a statement shared with Common Dreams.
“I’m here to add my voice to the infinite chorus of voices currently ringing across the entire world: We will not rest until Palestine is free, until all Palestinian prisoners are released from Zionist jails, until return, from the river to the sea,” Barghouti continued.
Protesters arrived before light both on foot and in cars to block access to the port’s Terminal 7, The Seattle Times reported. By 8:21 am local time, the number stood at around 1,000, a member of Students United for Palestinian Equity and Return at the University of Washington (SUPER-UW) told Common Dreams. There were two large pickets and several smaller ones, with around 20% of participants blocking traffic with their cars and another 80% marching on foot.
Participants came from organizations including SUPER-UW, Samidoun Seattle, Falastiniyat, Tacoma Democratic Socialists of America, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) Bay Area, and International League of People’s Struggle Seattle-Tacoma, and chanted slogans like “Free, free Palestine,” and “Not another nickle, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes.”
The mobilization against MV Cape Orlando began in Oakland on Friday, where activists succeeded in keeping it in the port for nine hours, according to The Seattle Times. Demonstrators attempted to interfere with the vessel’s mooring lines and climb onto its ladder, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a press release. Coast Guard workers said they removed three protesters from the ladder Friday afternoon.
As of late Monday morning, organizers said they had received word that one of the workers on the ship wanted to disembark in order not to be complicit with Israeli war crimes.
“Our protests from Oakland to Tacoma is making an impact and moving people!” AROC Bay Area wrote on social media.
The Tacoma Police Department said that traffic was blocked near the port as of 10:06 am PT, and that officers were on the scene to help direct traffic. Police remained behind a fence at the terminal, The News Tribune reported. The local paper reached out to the Department of Defense to confirm the cargo and destination of the ship, but a spokesperson declined to share that information.
Organizers were not sure how long the protest would last, but said they planned to remain at the port until it was confirmed that no weapons would be loaded onto the ship.