Local Groups Picket Israeli Ship at Port of Long Beach

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Photos by Barry Saks.

More than 100 people protested the arrival of a ship owned by the Israeli Zim American Integrated Shipping Services Company (Zim) this past Saturday outside the Long Beach Harbor Pier A terminal with a circular picket line.

The protest, organized 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, began at 6:00AM. Garrick Ruiz, one of the head organizers of the protest, said more protests are to follow like those in Oakland, where a Zim ship was not unloaded for four days after a protest began a week ago this past Saturday according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Some protesters carried Palestinian flags while others carried signs claiming Israeli apartheid and condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.  One chant on the picket line was, “When people are occupied, resistance is justified,” while others chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”  The chants then varied and continued in chorus: “Occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine,” “Netanyahu, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide,” “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry. Palestine will never die.”

Protestors passed out flyers in English and Spanish to International Longshore and Warehouse Union members, hoping to convince the reader to boycott Zim specifically and Israeli goods in general. The flier contained statements by the International Transport Workers Federation, the South African Metal Workers Union, and the International Dockworkers Council, condemning Israeli military actions and occupation.

An hour and a half into the protest the 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.” It was then that police ordered the picketers to disperse, but they refused to do so.

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Ruiz forewarned the protesters that if anyone was to be arrested, the groups that organized the protest did not have the resources to help them, prompting the protesters to disperse.  No one was arrested.

“I heard that International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had invoked their contract’s health and safety clause and would not be unloading the ship for this shift,” Ruiz said at the end of the protest.

The same groups had organized a protest ten days earlier with about 45 protesters; however, the ILWU members unloaded the Zim ship.

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