Sunday, June 20, 2010

Protesters prevent unloading of Israeli ship

OAKLAND -- Hundreds of peace activists prevented the unloading of an Israeli ship at the Port of Oakland Sunday by forming a picket line that was considered a threat to longshoremen who could otherwise have worked.

Organizers said their goal was to delay the ship's unloading for 24 hours in protest of the Israeli military's May 31 open seas raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla that had been bringing goods to Gaza. The raid resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens.

Several hundred people gathered around 5:30 a.m. at berths 57, 58 and 59, which is operated by SSA Terminals. An Israeli Zim Lines ship was expected to arrive in the morning, but though it didn't arrive until the afternoon, the crowd stayed, preventing workers from unloading a ship from China, according to SSA officials.

"Free, free Palestine! Don't cross the picket line!" the crowd's leaders and pickets shouted, blocking the berths' entrances and preventing about 100 longshoremen from walking past.

The longshoremen's union largely cooperated with the picket line. No workers tried to cross it and Clarence Thomas, an executive board member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 said, "We don't want our members getting into fist fights or anything. We don't want police escorting us to work. That's unsafe."

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