Protest at Port of Oakland over ship headed to Israel; calls for ceasefire

People demanding a ceasefire in Gaza protested Friday morning at the Port of Oakland around a US government ship that is reportedly headed to Israel.

They say they have learned the ship, the Cape Orlando, is on its way to Tacoma, Wash., where it will allegedly pick up weapons and military equipment to deliver to Israel in its ongoing war against Hamas. The ship is no longer at the port. 

The Port of Tacoma is part of what is known as a power projection platform located very close to McChord joint military base. The Cape Orlando is an ideal ship for such things as tanks, armored personnel, carriers and mobile rocket launchers, as well as troop trucks, cargo trucks and Humvees. 

Over the decades, the Port of Oakland has served or stored military ships. The Cape Orlando is a roll-on, roll-off ship, primarily made to transport vehicles and trailers. 

Starting around 8 a.m., there were a couple dozen people with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center who had gotten close to the ship. More protesters were still outside the port's gates around noon. As numbers swelled, an estimated 200 pro-Palestinian demonstrators walked into the port and supt to the U.S. Ready Reserve Fleet military ship. A couple of hundred more protesters gathered at the gate after port security closed the entryway. 

Image 1 of 5

Protestors in the Port of Oakland tried to stop a ship they said would carry military equipment to Israel.

"We came on through. The gates were open. This is obviously a peaceful protest and we are here to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people," said Mohamed Shehk, a pro-Palestinian protester. 

The group says they're protesting the loss of innocent lives in Gaza and they called for an immediate ceasefire. 

"We know that this vessel is headed toward Tacoma, Washington where it will be getting the equipment, the military equipment that it will be taking to apartheid Israel and aid in the genocide of the people of Gaza," said Lara Kiswani from Arab Resource and Organizing Center. 

Hamas terrorists killed 1,400 Israelis on Oct. 7 and kidnapped more than 200 people, many of them young people who were attending a desert concert on a Jewish holiday.

Israel has responded to this act of terrorism through airstrikes and ground troops in an effort to root out Hamas in Gaza, where civilian Palestinians also live.

More than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed since then. Shehk says 4,000 of those killed are children. "At the same time, the president of this country is so-called, calling for a humanitarian pause."

Retired Longshoreman Clarence Thomas said he thought there should be an immediate ceasefire, not a humanitarian pause. 

For the handful of protesters who were able to breach the security fence, it will be up to the U.S. Coast Guard to decide if they should be arrested or cited for violating federal marine security laws that require proper authority to pass through them. 

"We're outraged that this is happening in Oakland. We're outraged that it could happen anywhere," said Kiswani from AROC. 

There was heavy Oakland police presence, along with Coast Guard law enforcement and port security guards. There were no reports of violence at this protest.