- Terelle Jerricks
Photo and article by Barry Saks
More than a 100 protesters affiliated with Block the Boats and BDS-LA formed a circular picket line outside the Long Beach Harbor Pier A terminal at the arrival of the Israeli shipping firm, Zim American Integrated Shipping Services Company, on Aug. 23.
Some protesters carried Palestinians flags. Others carried signs protesting Israeli apartheid and Israel’s actions in Gaza, while chanting, “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.” Another chant was “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” A third chant was “Occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine.”
this demonstration as well as others from the Los Angeles Harbor Area to the Oakland Bay Area is part of larger divestment strategy to force Israel to change its policy toward the Palestinians.
Organizers handed out flyers in English and Spanish to longshore workers which condemned the recent Israeli military actions and ongoing occupation and explained the rationale of boycotting Zim Shipping and Israeli good generally. The action was supported by the International Transport Workers Federation, the South African Metal Workers Union, and the International Dockworkers Council.
About one hour and a half into the picket line, picketers stopped, stood in the middle of the street, facing the police and oncoming traffic, and chanted, “Don’t let it go. Hold the line.” The police ordered the picketers to disperse, but they did not move.
Ruiz explained to the protesters if people got arrested, the groups that organized the protest did not have the resources to help them. Finally the protesters dispersed. No one was arrested.
Ruiz, at the end of the protest, said he had just heard that the ILWU had invoked the contract’s health and safety clause and would not be unloading the ship for this shift. However, the spokesperson for the IlWU International, Craig Merrilees, said the ship was unloaded as normal and that the membership has not taken a formal position on the divestment campaigned.
On August 18, the same group with more than a thousand demonstrators protested at the terminal gates of the Port of Oakland delayed the unloading of Zim Shipping. Merrilees said that the action wasn’t due to worker solidarity with the demonstrators but rather that the tense situation between the police and the demonstrators was deemed unsafe.
The protests were supported by BDS-LA for Justice in Palestine, the ANSWER Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine, US Palestinian Community Network,
Global Women’s Strike, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network – Labor.
Managing Editor Terelle Jerricks contributed to this story.