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Keffiyehs Storm the Port
taxpayer-funded west coast activists are chaining themselves to a military vessel supposedly bound for israel
Last Friday, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), a taxpayer-funded nonprofit dedicated to “serv[ing] poor and working class Arabs and Muslims across the San Francisco Bay Area” (a goal they’ve recently pursued by disseminating “Walkout for Gaza” toolkits to high schoolers across the nation), issued a call for activists, agitators, and the bored and unemployed to assemble at the Port of Oakland and protest the departure of Cape Orlando, a US military vessel supposedly bound for Israel with weapons. (In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the DoD confirmed the vessel is “supporting the movement of US military cargo,” but refused to provide transit or movement details due to operations security risks.)
Videos of several dozen people in keffiyehs and cloth masks playing the drums and chanting “From the river to the sea” outside the shipyard went viral, a few protesters managed to chain themselves to the boat (and were promptly arrested), the Chronicle called the event a “dramatic demonstration”...and the boat left port on schedule, at around 3 pm local time. The following day, Cape Orlando docked in Tacoma, Washington, where the local DSA chapter solicited pizza and phone battery charging packs for a new group of intrepid revolutionaries attempting to block the vessel with canoes. They claimed to delay the vessel’s departure by a day, writing “we cost the capitalist class hundreds of millions in profits and showed the military industrial complex that their power can and will be challenged,” in a series of posts yesterday on Twitter/X.
The Cape Orlando protest was the latest in a series of pro-Palestine marches organized by Bay Area activist groups — others include the “occupation” (for less than an hour) of part of Highway 101; an “All out for Gaza” march up Market Street; and a sit-in at the Federal Building, where attendees chained themselves to the building’s gate in protest of US military aid to Israel.
The most extreme fringe of protesters recently released a manifesto claiming responsibility for a series of attacks they waged on “financial, military, corporate, and tech” targets across the Bay Area. These included smashing the windows of a Starbucks “for their repression of pro-Palestine unionized workers” and “drench[ing] eight Cruise [AV] cars with red paint for being a subsidiary of General Motors, which has offices in Israel.”
“These attacks are also a continuation of our ongoing revenge for Banko Brown, in solidarity with Sean "Tucan" Monterrosa and Tortuguita, and in response to the call from Filipino/a/x comrades asking anarchists in the US to memorialize Jennifer "Ganda" Laude,” the authors wrote, citing the victims of various supposedly anti-trans crimes with no discernible connection to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
In what appears to be a credible terrorist threat, manifesto authors also promised to “bring the [Intifada] to life in our own cities,” announcing that “our enemies must be made to bleed for every bomb, every bullet, and every martyr.”
The rhetoric reflected the increasingly violent atmosphere at Israel/Palestine protests throughout California, where, according to local authorities, a 69-year-old Jewish man was beaten to death at a rally in Los Angeles on Monday. The medical examiner’s office determined the man’s death to be a homicide, though no arrests have yet been made.
— Sanjana Friedman