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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Protesters at Port of Oakland block ship rumored to carry weapons for Israel

The activists say they oppose the ongoing U.S. support for Israel given the civilian deaths and displacement caused by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — Protesters calling for the U.S. to stop sending military aid to Israel attempted to block a U.S. Navy ship which they claim will carry military supplies from California’s third largest port.

On Friday morning, a large group of protesters with the San Francisco-based Arab Resource and Organizing Center gathered around the Navy command ship Cape Orlando at the Port of Oakland, attempting to climb inside and chain themselves to the vessel. They say the ship is carrying weapons the U.S. is supplying to Israel, and protested U.S. support for airstrikes on Gaza which have been ongoing since Oct. 7. 

The protesters say the Cape Orlando, operated by the Maritime Administration, is headed to Tacoma, Washington, before departing for Israel. This report has not been confirmed.

Protesters gathered outside a Port of Oakland dock to decry a U.S. Navy ship they claim is carrying weapons to Israel. (Natalie Hanson / Courthouse News)
People look on outside a Port of Oakland dock, watching a U.S. Navy ship they claim is carrying weapons to Israel. (Natalie Hanson / Courthouse News)

By noon Friday, more than 100 protesters had been pushed by Oakland Police Department and California Highway Patrol officers to the entrance to the berth. 

Activists gathered to block the entrance and chant in support of Palestine, including “Israel, Israel you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,”  They said they protest Israel’s use of ongoing airstrikes that have killed more than 9,200 Palestinians, including children according to Gaza Health Ministry, since Hamas militants killed 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped more than 200 people on Oct. 7. 

The activists say they oppose the U.S. giving ongoing support to Israel amid reports of civilian deaths and displacement. Oakland resident Heather LaMastro said they have participated in every Bay Area protest calling for a cease-fire in Gaza throughout October.

“My friends in Gaza are demanding a cease-fire,” LaMastro said. “They say, what’s the point of humanitarian aid if you’re just going to bomb us again? We will stand with our friends in Palestine no matter what.”

The protest organizers also said in a statement that several individuals chained themselves to the ship and more than 200 continued to protest directly outside the vessel. By 2 p.m. the organization reported the vessel was re-docked in the port.

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center said it has successfully blocked Israeli-owned ships from transferring cargo at the Port of Oakland for about a decade.

More than 100 protest at the Port of Oakland, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. (Natalie Hanson / Courthouse News)

A California Highway Patrol officer at the scene said that Oakland Police Department is managing the protest at the entrance to the berth. No public information officer was available before press time to comment on whether action will be taken by the city. U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Chris Payne said the Cape Orlando had left its berth but did not say where it's headed.

Marilyn Sandifur, spokesperson for the Port of Oakland, said that "So far, there has been no disruption to routine Port of Oakland container operations and no impact on the flow of commerce at the Oakland Seaport." She said the ship had left the port.

This is the latest in a string of protests around the San Francisco Bay Area calling for an Israel cease-fire and protesting U.S. support and aid to Israel. More than 15,000 filled the streets of San Francisco on Saturday and even blocked portions of the freeway near the downtown area. 

Meanwhile in Oakland, the Oakland Education Association this week deleted an Instagram post pledging “unequivocal support for Palestinian liberation” and blasting Israel as an “apartheid state” after protests from parents and residents. The union, which represents teachers, counselors, librarians and other Oakland educators, called for an “immediate cease-fire and the end of all U.S. military aid to Israel."

The Alameda County Democratic Central Committee also this week passed a resolution supporting Palestine titled “Resolution Affirming ACDCC Support and Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” It accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.”

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Categories / Government, International, Politics

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