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6 Nov 2023

Kim Kelly, In These Times (USA)

Ports shipping weapons to Israel blocked by dockworkers and protestors, from Barcelona to Oakland

"The Next Target for Protests Against Israel: Ports", November 6 2023

About 100 protesters arrived at the Port of Tacoma at 5 a.m. on Monday determined to block any efforts to load cargo onto the Cape Orlando, a ship the activists thought could be transporting weapons to Israel. They chanted ​“Free, free Palestine!” and by 6 a.m. the group had grown by hundreds more.


The protest raged on throughout the day ... Dockworkers in Barcelona, also on Monday, called for a cease-fire in Israel and Palestine and declared that they would not work on ships carrying weapons.

“Workers have committed to not load, unload, or facilitate the tasks of any boat containing weapons,” the Spanish publication El Diario reported ...

The effort to stop the Cape Orlando, a military ship with a long wartime resume, started Friday at the Port of Oakland when a wave of people descended on the docks early that morning, armed with megaphones, banners and Palestinian flags. Operating on a tip that the ship was allegedly bound for Israel and hundreds of protesters organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) in the Bay Area showed up early in the morning determined not to let the Cape Orlando leave.

In These Times first reached out to the U.S. Coast Guard for more information about the Cape Orlando, but the request was referred to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In an email, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen wrote that the Cape Orlando ​“is currently under the operational control of U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is supporting the movement of U.S. military cargo.” Jurgensen declined to provide additional information about the ship’s cargo or any further information.


.... The Port of Oakland has long been a site of working class struggle, and the unionized ILWU workers lay claim to especially radical roots, especially from the bloody 1934 waterfront strike that saw the ILWU successfully win gains for workers across West Coast ports.

It would appear that political protests against authoritarianism, apartheid and deadly force are as much a part of the ILWU’s history as seawater and sailors’ knots. Friday was not the first time its members have been present at — or part of — efforts to block weapons-laden ships bound for Israel, or refused to cross protestors’ picket lines.