'Stop taking anything from Israel': Block the Boat movement aims to halt cargo ship at Seattle Port
Demonstrators gathered near the Port of Seattle Thursday afternoon.
Their aim – was to block the unloading of a cargo ship owned by the shipping company ZIM, which was founded in Israel.
Demonstrators are using the ship’s arrival as a way to protest Israeli actions in Gaza last month.
Aisha Mansour is with Falastiniyat, a feminist grassroots collective which organized the protest. “We’re hoping to have a non-violent protest today where we just basically have some civic disobedience and we tell people, 'Hey, don’t benefit from Israeli apartheid,'" she said. "This is how we liberated South Africa from apartheid and we’re just trying to tell our ports, stop taking anything from Israel.”
The union representing dockworkers supports the demonstrators’ first amendment rights, it said in a statement.
Protesters said they hoped to create a barrier that union workers would refuse to cross.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant marched with the group, too, in part to make clear, she sees this as a union issue. “What we need ultimately is coordinated action by unions, including the port workers, who will have to be at the forefront of it in the United States, to block military and arms shipments to Israel,” she said.
Fred Felleman is the president of the Port Commission. He says he believes in free speech, but he disagrees with the demonstrators’ strategy.
“This particular company, is purported to be Israeli-owned. But it’s not. It’s a public entity on the stock market," he said. "To target a shipping company is not targeting the cause of the problem. The impact is not on world politics, but on the working class waterfront.”
At a similar protest in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, the boat left without docking.
ZIM did not respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE, 8:46pm: Seattle Police say they arrested 10 protesters.