the ZIM Piraeus from unloading

by Steve Martinot
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We stopped an Israeli ship, the Zim Piraeus, from unloading in Oakland. As of this moment, it is three days that the ship has been at the port, and no one has touched it. It is expected to sail out today (Tuesday, August 19, 2014), but as of this moment it has not yet left. Word is that its next port of call is in Russia, and it has to be there by August 31.

Blocking the ship was an enormous effort by the community and the union together. The ship was due to dock on Saturday, August 16, at 3 p.m. It had originally been scheduled for 5:30 a.m. that day, but was delayed. On Saturday afternoon, three thousand people came together and marched on the port of Oakland, shutting it down. There were about 1000 of us that met at the nearby BART station, and marched to the port. By the time we got there, there were at least 3000 of us. We had a rally at the berth entrance, with many speakers. Gaza, Ferguson, Haiti, and Oakland were four of the world's dots of resistance connected that day. The ship was told to stay at sea because it could not be moored at the dock under those conditions.

The ship docked sometime Saturday night or Sunday, without anyone there to begin unloading it.

Monday morning, at 5:30 a.m., a small number of people, maybe 20 or 30, showed up and picketed the specific berth at which the ship was docked. The police showed up, pushed the pickets around, but were unable to clear the berth entrance. Two people were arrested but no one was hurt. The longshoremen who showed up for that shift saw the picket line and refused to cross it. This is local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which is the union that emerged from the San Francisco General Strike of 1934. This union also refused to unload South African ships during the international struggle to end Apartheid. They have also shut down the ports calling for justice for Mumia Abu Jamal and all political prisoners.

Monday afternoon, when the next shift was to come on, about a hundred of us showed up. At first there were only 30, but we started picketing in front of the berth entrance. There were about an equal number of police. It took them a half and hour to figure out how to deal with a legal picket, with TV coverage there. And about another half an hour to have finally pushed us off to the sides, clearing the driveway. But with the chanting, the flags, the signs, the music from people who had brought their trumpets and horns, we turned away truckers and workers, even though we were not standing in the driveway. "Free free Palestine, don't cross the picket line." By 7 p.m., no workers had gone in to unload the ship.

Tuesday morning, 5:30 a.m., a small number of people again went to the port. And the union said that was enough, they would not touch the ship. So far we have won. We will need to be out there again this afternoon. But time is running out for the ship. And the Seattle solidarity movement has said it will give an Israeli ship due there in two weeks the same treatment.

End the Occupation of Palestine.