Ten Arrested After Seattle Pro-Palestinian Protest Tries To Block Israeli-Owned Ship

Seattle police arrested 10 people on Thursday after a group of pro-Palestinian protesters attempted to block the unloading of a cargo ship owned by an Israeli company. The incident comes amid renewed Mideast hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

The protest, organized by Palestinian feminist collective Falastiniyat, took place after a cargo ship owned by Israeli company ZIM docked at the Port of Seattle. Activists said the vessel was initially scheduled to unload its cargo in Seattle on June 2.

According to NPR affiliate KUOW, Falastiniyat member Aisha Mansour said protesters sought to create a barrier union dockworkers would not cross.

"We're hoping to have a non-violent protest today where we just basically have some civic disobedience and we tell people, 'Hey, don't benefit from Israeli apartheid,'" she told KUOW.

We're marching to demand that Seattle's Democratic Port Commissioners stand with #BlockTheBoat, @falastiniyat & union longshore workers & not allow the Israeli ZIM cargo ship to be unloaded.

Unions & the labor movement courageously blocking corporate profits will be crucial. pic.twitter.com/SKYgvEel9M

— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) June 17, 2021

KUOW reported the union representing dockworkers said it supported the protesters' first amendment rights in a statement.

Fred Felleman, president of the Port Commission, told KUOW he disagreed with the protest, adding ZIM is "a public entity on the stock market."

"To target a shipping company is not targeting the cause of the problem," he said. "The impact is not on world politics, but on the working-class waterfront."

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant was among the protesters, tweeting: "Unions & the labor movement courageously blocking corporate profits will be crucial."

The Seattle Police Department announced 10 people were arrested at Thursday's protest, which was given dispersal orders. Skirmishes between police and protesters were filmed and posted on social media. In a video shared by Instagram user @cduvani, police could be seen charging at demonstrators and pinning a man down. One officer pointed a spray can containing an unidentified substance at audibly distressed protesters.

EMERGENCY UPDATE: Our #BlockTheBoat community protest tonight in #Seattle was violently broken up by police. At least 8 of us are in jail. We picketed against an apartheid-profiteering ship that had already been officially asked to leave the port. (1/4) https://t.co/T3ixiyEdcP

— AROC #BlocktheBoat (@AROCBayArea) June 18, 2021

Falastiniyat tweeted the protest was "violently broken up by police" and at least eight protesters are in jail.

The Seattle demonstration is part of Block The Boat, a series of port-based protests led by the California-based Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC). AROC said Block The Boat operates under the Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement.

AROC launched Block The Boat during the 2014 Gaza war, when the organization urged union workers not to unload a ZIM cargo ship in Oakland, California.

"By mobilizing to block Zim, we are sending a message: There will be no business with the apartheid state of Israel in the Bay Area," AROC said.

Prior to the Seattle protest, AROC had prevented a ZIM ship from docking in Oakland on June 4.

Update 6/19/21, 9:20 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional details.

Zim ship enters Port of Livorno
A Zim ship enters the dock of the Terminal Darsena Toscana in the Port of Livorno on September 20, 2010 in Livorno, Italy. Laura Lezza/Getty Images