Demonstrators form blockade at California port over potential US aid being shipped to Israel

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, November 3, 2023
Protest at Port of Oakland over potential US aid to Israel
Demonstrators, angered by the approval of US aid to Israel, trespassed at the Port of Oakland where they say a ship will head to the Middle East with military cargo.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Demonstrators, angered by the approval of US aid to Israel, trespassed at the Port of Oakland in California Friday morning.

They were protesting a military ship docked there that they say is preparing to head to Washington and then the Middle East.

Protesters inside the port could be seen climbing up part of a ladder on the side of the ship and creating a blockade.

Protesters were also blocking the entrance to Berth 20 at the Port.

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"We know that the ship is destined as a military ship to Israel because of the courage of workers," Lara Kiswani, Executive Director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said.

Kiswani, the organizer of this protest, said workers confirmed the ship will head to Tacoma, Washington where it's expected to load up with military supplies before heading to Israel.

"We're hoping that when it reaches Tacoma, 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," she said. "We are simply trying to call for an immediate ceasefire and stop the aiding of the genocide of my people."

This demonstration happened less than 24 hours after the House passed a $14.3 billion aid package to Israel, following the unprecedented Hamas terror attack at the beginning of last month.

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But ever since that Oct. 7 assault, there have been concerns the conflict could ignite fighting on other fronts, and Israel and the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah have repeatedly traded fire along the Lebanon border.

"I also think that it's important for people to understand that our tax dollars are going for these weapons that are being dropped on innocent women and children and I believe that that's wrong, those dollars could be better spent here in the United States of America," Clarence Thomas, an alumni and former secretary of ILWU Local 10 said.

Thomas, a former longshore worker, part of the ILWU Local 10 labor union says they've had a longstanding relationship standing up for Palestinians.

And he wasn't surprised to see this demonstration just a week after dockworkers in Belgium pledged not to work any ships destined for Israel amid the ongoing conflict.

"When longshore workers disrupt international cargo, it impacts trucking as well as train stops so we play a very important role and part of that is because of the tradition of ILWU workers being the social conscience of the working class," he said.

The Port of Oakland says they do not expect the demonstration to impact the flow of commerce.