Demonstrators in Oakland, California, staged a protest on Friday to demand an end to the war in Gaza. The protesters managed to delay a US military supply vessel, named MV Cape Orlando, for several hours. It was believed that the ship was destined for Israel with weapons and gear.
Organized by the San Francisco-based Arab Resource Organizing Center, the protest began early in the morning at the Port of Oakland and continued into the afternoon. Some activists even attached themselves to the ship using a rope ladder. Meena Abushamala, a Palestinian protester, explained to the media that the ship was a US military vessel that was set to go to Tacoma, Washington, to pick up US military arms before taking them to Israel. The information about the shipment was obtained through a confidential source.
Local news outlets captured footage of the protest, showing a small crowd of activists near the ship and a larger group blocking off the entrance to the ship’s berth. Approximately 200 people participated in the event. Despite efforts by a US Coast Guard negotiator to persuade the protesters to leave the vessel, the attempts were unsuccessful.
The protesters were eventually removed from the ship around 3 pm local time. The protest group claimed that three of its members were detained by the Coast Guard, which has federal jurisdiction over the waters. The Oakland Police stated that they monitored the action but did not make any arrests.
Given the ongoing investigation, the Coast Guard spokesman, Hunter Schnabel, could not provide specific details but confirmed that multiple individuals are currently under investigation in connection to the Friday protest.
The activists hoped that their demonstration would have an impact on US lawmakers who are considering over $14 billion in military aid for Israel. The assistance has already passed through the House and now awaits final approval in the Senate.
Similar pro-Palestine protests have taken place across the US in recent weeks. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, a group of demonstrators disrupted the event, including some interrupting Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he testified in support of increased military aid to Israel.
The current escalation in Gaza began after a deadly Hamas terrorist attack on October 7. In retaliation, Israel launched a series of heavy airstrikes and a ground assault. According to local officials, the ongoing violence has resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 Israelis and more than 9,000 Palestinians.
The incident at the Port of Oakland is not an isolated incident. It highlights the growing opposition to the war in Gaza and the controversial issue of US military aid to Israel. As the demonstration caught the attention of the media and lawmakers, it remains to be seen how it will impact the decisions regarding military aid and the resolution of the conflict in Gaza.