On Saturday August 16, several thousand protesters marched into the Port of Oakland toward the berth where a weekly Israeli cargo ship docks to offload its goods. The weekly docking of a Zim Lines cargo ship at the Oakland port was the focus (Zim Integrated Shipping Services is the Israeli international maritime shipping line). A community picket line at its berth was called for 5 AM Saturday, to meet the longshoremen arriving for the day shift to offload its cargo.
There’s a history of dramatic mass demonstrations and occupations at this port, including when they’ve stopped cargo from Israeli and South African ships, and during Occupy. This time, the focus was on the present U.S.-backed Israeli massacre going down in Gaza. With Israel blockading, besieging and slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza, why should anyone tolerate Israeli commercial “business as usual” here? The diverse protest crowd was called into action out of the past weeks of outpourings of mass protest to stand with Gaza and the Palestinian people.
A few hours before the target time, word went out that the ship was now offshore, hanging out and delaying its itinerary, probably to avoid the protest – so the mobilization time got reset – and at 3 PM, between 3 and 4,000 people met at the BART station and headed for the ship’s berth. We chanted along the mile or so march, including “From Ferguson to Palestine, Occupation is a crime!”
The police blocked the actual entry to the berth so the march stopped. There was a rally, and then because it was announced the ship would not approach the port this day, a victory march took everybody back. The Israeli ship had been delayed for a whole day – a day of success for the people fighting to stand with and support the people of Palestine in Gaza!
Sunday late afternoon, word went out: the Zim ship would dock at 6:30, and the longshore union (ILWU) would recognize a community picket line. A few hundred people got themselves into the port and set up the picket line. No one crossed the picket line and so the cargo was not offloaded for another day. Organizers say that means TWO days of successfully preventing Israeli cargo from being delivered, and they are considering what can be done next to build on this success.
See below for the route the ship took as it later attempted to sail down to Los Angeles, then made a U-turn to return to Oakland. Protests succeeded in preventing it from unloading for a total of five days.