Tampa activists protest ZIM cargo lines to showcase Israeli civil rights violations
By Dezerey Lyn
The following is a write up of the blockade action carried out by members of Block the Boat Tampa, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine USF, Students for a Democratic Society, Tampa Food not Bombs, Tampa Light Brigade, International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine and many others- included are photos taken by John Thomas of Occupy Tampa who also live streamed the event in its entirety:
In the early hours of Saturday morning, September 20th, activists from nearly a dozen organizations converged at the entrance way to the Port of Tampa to protest the incoming ZIM Alabama as Israel’s largest cargo shipping company. Our message to ZIM and to Israel is that we do not accept Israeli apartheid on our shores- Seeing that Operation Protective Edge, carried out by Israeli forces, just violently extinguished the lives of over 2,100 Palestinians- over 500 of them children, most of them completely innocent civilians who posed no threat whatsoever, the free, unabated transfer of goods and commerce from their shores to ours should not happen.
With flags, banners, signs, Tampa Light Brigade messaging and placards, we dozens on the ground immediately began a moving picket through every intersection, held ground at the mouth of the port and then united for a march inside the port where we were instantly flanked by police who worked quickly to surround chanting, singing blockaders with cones which were then pushed back twice. Protesters returned the push and many cones ended up on in piles laying on their sides by noon time.
Police immediately surrounded a Palestinian American woman and threatened to arrest her as she held her sign high. She refused to move, refused to allow the police to continue to work the cones back to keep protesters out of sight of eventually entrancing rank and file ILA Tampa local 1402 members. Two organizers of Block the Boat stood by her sides letting police know that if they were to arrest her, they would have multiple arrests to execute, this as a livestream tech recorded the confrontation. Police backed off and protesters continued to scream our resistance into the rainy early morning sky.
We received word that ILA members would not enter port until roughly 1pm as there was an unspecified 12 hour docking delay and 7-8 hour cargo unloading delay that was taking place. The convergence was broken as word spread like fire through social media for support on the ground when we converged again at noon.
At noon, many new faces had arrived and we prepared to enter the port once again. A second moving picket was established which ended in a soft block, slowing down massive trucks entering to move the incoming cargo to local receivers. A dozen blockaders marched backwards through the long entrance drive to the port holding massive banners addressing our resistance and personal messages to Longshoremen local.
As police stood by helplessly mocking the crowd, our day of solidarity with Palestine, from Gaza to the West Bank, and our furious resistance to Israeli apartheid and to US complicity in incremental genocide ended in a singing, drumming, chanting, moving picket line through toppled cones and our sights already set on the next blockade.