By: Spencer Pauley | The Center Square
Hundreds gathered Monday morning at the Port of Tacoma in an attempt to block the departure of a merchant vessel believed to be carrying weapons and military equipment to the Middle East.
Estimates have more 500 people attending the protest.
The motor vessel Cape Orlando left the Port of Oakland on Friday, arriving in Tacoma where organizers prepared to block the ship from entering the port. Protestors in Oakland stayed until the last moment to demand an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.
On Oct. 7, the terrorist organization Hamas launched a pogrom from the Gaza Strip against civilians in Israel, killing some 1,500 people and taking more than 200 hostage. Israeli Defense Forces have since responded with a barrage of airstrikes that have decimated the Gaza Strip and a ground campaign that now has IDF forces surrounding Gaza City.
Signs at the Tacoma Port protest read “No aid to Israel” and “Free all Palestinian prisoners,” among others.
According to the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, at least one worker on the ship refused to continue working aboard because said worker did not want to take part in genocide.
“They plan to walk off the ship [which] cannot go anywhere without them,” an unidentified speaker said to protestors in a video on social media. “The workers of the world will never allow genocide to happen on their watch.”
The MV Cape Orlando is a roll-on/roll-off ship that is part of the U.S. Ready Reserve Fleet. Pentagon Spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen confirmed to The Center Square that the ship is carrying U.S. military cargo.
“The Department of Defense is aware of the incidents in question – and we work closely with interagency partners, to include the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement – as appropriate – to ensure the security and safety of military assets and personnel operating at commercial port facilities,” Jurgensen said to The Center Square in an email. “The vessel is currently under the operational control of U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is supporting the movement of U.S. military cargo.”
Jurgensen added that the Department of Defense cannot provide further transportation and movement details or information regarding the cargo embarked on these vessels due to operational security.
The Center Square reached out to the Arab Resource & Organizing Center for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.