‘Block the Boat' protest in Tacoma leads to fight

by: Joanna Small Updated:

TACOMA, Wash. —

A fight erupted when about 50 protestors tried to prevent workers at the Port of Tacoma from getting in and out of their parking lot.  The protestors were part of a growing group called "Block the Boat,” which was attempting to keep an Israeli cargo ship from unloading in Tacoma Saturday morning.

Protestors swarmed a man's minivan at the entrance of the parking lot.  When he finally got out to approach the gate, there was a physical confrontation. Other workers were trying to get home after their shift but they were trapped by the group. 

"That's assault! That's assault," one of the protestors screamed, as the man pushed him. 

"Scab," that protestor and others shouted.

About a dozen Tacoma police officers showed up to assist the Port of Tacoma security.  They told KIRO 7 they have been planning for this event for about a week.

"They can't block cars, they can't block people from utilizing the free sidewalk,” Lt. Frank Krause explained.

The man in the van turned back and the protestors parted to allow workers out.

"Block, block, block the boat, keep it out at sea.  Our ports will be blocked to Israel's ships until Gaza's ports are free,” protesters chanted to the tune of “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.”

The idea of Block the Boat Tacoma was to keep workers from unloading ZIM Chicago, an Israeli cargo ship.  Protestors in Oakland, California, delayed the unloading of another ZIM vessel last week. Saturday’s mission in Washington was very personal for some of the 50-plus protestors.

"My daughter was killed in Gaza in 2003,” Cindy Corrie, holding a sign that read “If you want peace, work for justice,” told us.

Corrie told us she is picketing because her daughter was run down by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to save Palestinian houses from destruction. More violence is the last thing she wanted.

“But I hope we'll have some impact on this ship,” she said.

Some protestors told KIRO 7 they caused a delay in the unloading of Chicago and forced it to move to a different dock.  Port of Tacoma officials said that didn't happen -- all of their workers showed up on time, started on time and from exactly where they were supposed to.

Tacoma police said they will be reviewing security footage from Saturday and assault charges could possibly be filed. "Block the Boat plans to protest the Chicago when it docks at the Port of Seattle.