Pro-Palestinian protesters storm U.S. military ship at Port of Oakland

11:23 10.11.2023 •

Pro-Palestinian protesters scuffle with police near the U.S. military ship.
Photo: The Chronicle

In a dramatic demonstration against Israel’s military actions in Gaza, protesters stormed a large U.S. military ship at the Port of Oakland.

At least three people scaled the Cape Orlando and held on to the ladder to prevent the ship from leaving the dock.

The protesters believed the ship, which is operated by the Maritime Administration, was headed for Israel after a stop in Tacoma, Wash. This could not be immediately confirmed. At close to 2 p.m., port workers tied the ship to the dock and Oakland police said workers were being sent home and no action would occur. Nearly an hour later, the three who scaled the ship were arrested and the Cape Orlando left port, according to protesters.

About 50 demonstrators gathered near the ship’s berth at the Port of Oakland before dawn, swelling in numbers as the morning progressed. Activists chanted “Free Palestine, from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has got to go,” as they voiced their objections to the conflict.

The protest, organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center of San Francisco, prompted a significant police presence, leading to the closure of berth access.

While protest organizers alleged a confidential source told them that the ship was bound for Israel carrying weapons and military equipment, union officials and subcontractors working around the ship said it was empty and periodically came and went from the port.

Melvin Mackay, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said he asked organizers of the protest to get people off the vessel, which he said is no longer in operation.

“This has been dead for 17 years,” Mackay said.

Protest organizers said in a statement that several people had locked themselves to the ship and more than 200 others were protesting directly outside the vessel.

Lara Kiswani, the Palestinian executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, insisted the ship was scheduled to depart Friday and meant to carry weapons to Israel.  

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center said it has successfully blocked Israeli-owned ships from transferring cargo at the Port of Oakland for nearly a decade thanks to the support of ILWU Local 10.


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