The Port of Tacoma in Washington state was shut down by a picket line shortly before 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 6. Protesters swarmed the entrance with signs and chants: “No aid for Israel” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Demonstrators parked cars along the road leading into the port, stopping all traffic, including trucking to and from the port. Organizers say their protest delayed the ship’s departure by at least 12 hours.
The action was called to prevent the MV Cape Orlando, part of the U.S. fleet, from transporting military cargo to Israel. On Nov. 3, the ship had been delayed by a last-minute, unpublicized demonstration at the Port of Oakland.
At that protest, Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said: “We’re hoping that the workers in Tacoma will not load that military cargo, that people of Tacoma will show up to protest this genocide, and that workers around the world will continue to stop ships like this anywhere they may be found,”
In fact, at the Tacoma Port located near McChord Air Force Base, workers could not load the vessel. As members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), they are bound not to cross picket lines. It is a clear violation of their union principles and potentially dangerous as well.
Clarence Thomas, a retired longshore worker and former secretary-treasurer of ILWU Local 10 in Oakland, remarked that protests are more powerful when workers at the point of production become involved.
It was reported that members of the U.S. military had been ordered to attempt to load the ship using water taxis.
Commenting on the success of the demonstration, protester Alon Lapid told KOMO News: “This turnout is incredible. The people here are all showing up to support Palestinian liberation, to stop an ongoing genocide, and to call out all U.S. military aid to this genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
“We know that we have a responsibility and a duty to shut down this port because the military is literally going to be loading weapons and bombs that are going to be sent to the Israeli occupation regime to commit genocide today. We’re all out in force for Palestine,” Lapid concluded.