Pro-Palestinian protestors block Port of Tacoma military ship

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Monday to delay a cargo boat believed to contain weapons bound for Israel.

protesters marching in Tacoma

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in front of the entrance to the Port of Tacoma, Monday afternoon, in an attempt to block a ship, the Cape Orlando, they believe is set to deliver weapons and military supplies to Israel. Demonstrators have been marching since 5 a.m. and more people and food donations have arrived over the course of the day. (Genna Martin/Crosscut)

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators are trying to block a military supply ship they believe is picking up weapons in Tacoma to ship to Israel.

In social media posts and text messages, organizers associated with the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network called for people and motor vehicles to help them block the port. Originally scheduled for Sunday, organizers pushed the effort back to early Monday morning as they tried to track the ship’s movements.

Mid-Monday morning updates from an Instagram account called Samidoun Seattle called for more help to keep the blockade going.

“More bodies! More cars! We have to keep this boat BLOCKED,” read one post. Demonstrators said the blockade is aimed at stopping port workers from getting in to load the Cape Orlando.

Bissan Barghouti, a 33-year-old Seattle resident, said she came to stop the “genocide ship” and was willing to stay as long as it takes.

“I think the turnout has been truly incredible,” said Barghouti, a member of Samidoun, in light of large demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. Known as the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network according to its website, Samidoun describes itself as “an international network of organizers and activists working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom.”

Pentagon spokesman Jeff Jurgensen said the Defense Department was aware of the protest and acknowledged that the vessel was part of the U.S. Navy’s efforts to move military cargo, but because of security could not provide further details about the cargo or where it was going. 

“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.

On Friday, protesters briefly blocked that ship from leaving a port in Oakland, according to a report by CBS News. In response, the U.S. Coast Guard ultimately removed three people from the ship, according to a news release.

The attack by Hamas militants on Israelis and the Israeli military’s ensuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which is home to Palestinians, has sparked uproar across the world. In the Seattle area, Muslims and Jews have shared worries about increases in both Islamophobia and antisemitism and the possibility of hate crimes.

Monday’s port blockade in Tacoma comes after thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday at the Washington state Capitol in support of Palestinians. Carrying signs bearing slogans like “Imagine peace” and “Free Palestine,” they chanted for a cease-fire and against Gov. Jay Inslee and President Joe Biden, whom they dubbed “genocide Joe.”

A protester holds a Palestinian flag as the march in front of the entrance to the Port of Tacoma, Monday afternoon. (Genna Martin/Crosscut)

Get the best stories of the week

This weekly newsletter dives deeper into one story and how it was reported, along with curating the best stories of the week.

By subscribing, you agree to receive occasional membership emails from Crosscut/Cascade Public Media.

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors