Protesters calling for a cease-fire to the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas gathered at the Port of Oakland early Saturday morning in an attempt to stall business operations.
The demonstration, organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, aims to demand an end to U.S. economic and military support of Israel.
AROC announced that protesters blocked the first shift at the port at 5 a.m. and were planning a second demonstration around 2 p.m.
Shortly before 3 p.m., hundreds of protestors waving Palestinian flags began marching again from West Oakland BART Station westbound on Seventh Street toward the port, chanting "Cease-fire now."
“Every day, around $12 million in revenue is generated at the Port of Oakland,” Lara Kiswani, executive director of AROC, said in a press release. “The Oakland port has facilitated the transport of weapons, military equipment, and technology that fuel the Israeli genocide of Palestinians. As long as the U.S. enables this war with our tax dollars and through our port, there can be no business as usual.”
Roberto Bernardo, spokesperson for the Port of Oakland, said on Friday that officials were working with their maritime and security partners to plan for safety measures at the port.
“Any operational impacts by demonstrators to the Oakland Seaport would prevent the timely flow of international commerce, including medical supplies, agricultural products, livestock, auto and technology parts, and manufacturing parts, just to name a few,” Bernardo said. “Nearly 100,000 local jobs depend upon port operations, including the livelihoods of truck operators, dockworkers and warehouse workers and their families.”
According to Bernardo, protestors gathered around Seventh Street near the Ben E. Nutter Terminal.
Initially, AROC said that the protest was to stop the same ship—the Cape Orlando—which protesters had targeted in a November protest and which organizers claimed was transporting weapons to Israel.
During the November protest, three demonstrators scaled the ship and held onto its ladder in order to stop it from leaving the dock but were later arrested. The ship eventually departed Oakland for Tacoma prompting a 12-hour demonstration in Washington.
The early morning protest comes just one day after Israel defended itself in United Nations Court against allegations of genocide.
According to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory of Gaza, over 23,000 people have died during Israel's military campaign since the conflict began on Oct. 7, with an additional 85% of Gaza's population displaced from their homes.
The Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, which handles U.S. waterborne transportation, has been contacted for comment.