Pro-Palestine supporters try to stop Tacoma ship, claim it’s supporting genocide in Middle East war

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TACOMA, Wash. — The Pentagon confirmed with KIRO 7 that the ship docked at the Port of Tacoma, which hundreds of pro-Palestine supporters are trying to stop from leaving, supports the shipment of U.S. military cargo. Pro-Palestine supporters claim the ship has weapons destined for Israel.

Dozens of pro-Palestine supporters blocked several roads that lead to the Port of Tacoma’s entrance, including Port of Tacoma Road at Ross Way, while dozens more blocked the intersection of Port of Tacoma Road and East 11th Street.

Organizers said the U.S. military ship called the Cape Orlando was being loaded with weapons.

“It’s my tax dollars that are creating these bombs that are being sent to commit genocide against Palestinians by the Israeli occupation forces,” a pro-Palestine supporter and organizer, Alon Lapid, said. “We know this boat is arming genocide. That the US military is arming genocide of Palestinians. We want to ensure that the weapons that are going to be put on this boat as was planned, that plan does not go forward. So that this boat is not a genocide boat, and it’s disarmed.”

We reached out to the Port of Tacoma to get more details about the claims. Leaders directed us to the U.S. Coast Guard and said the agency would answer all questions about the demonstrations.

The U.S. Coast Guard then directed us to the Department of Defense.

We asked leaders for details about the ship, including the items loaded on the ship, its travel plans, and if the claims from protestors were accurate.

The Pentagon shared the following statement with us:

“The Department of Defense is aware of the incidents in question - and we work closely with interagency partners, to include the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement – as appropriate - to ensure the security and safety of military assets and personnel operating at commercial port facilities. The vessel is currently under the operational control of U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is supporting the movement of U.S. military cargo. Due to operational security, DoD does not provide further transportation, movement details or information regarding the cargo embarked on these vessels. We have no further information to provide at this time.” - Pentagon spokesperson, Jeff Jurgensen

We saw a large vessel at the Port with the name Cape Orlando on its side.

We were able to confirm that the ship arrived from Oakland, California where other protestors had gotten on board the ship and delayed it for hours.

Organizers said the event influenced their demonstration.

“The boat was originally docked in Oakland. Protestors there were able to keep the boat docked for nine hours. And we are now holding it here and hoping to prevent it from being loaded with any weapons at all and to go overseas and basically do genocide against Palestinians,” said organizer, Bissan Barghouti.

At the Port of Tacoma, supporters were seen chanting “Free, free Palestine,” along with other chants, while holding different signs showing their support for Palestine amid the war in the Middle East.

Organizers told us the demonstrations have been taking place since Monday at 5 a.m.

We were able to see three of the blockades and around 200 protestors, including a Jewish woman, who shared her reason for supporting the event.

“I think it’s critically important that the ship not leave, whether it’s because we stay here until they’re gone or our representatives get the message that it’s not just Palestinian people who are here saying this must stop, it’s Jewish people who are here saying it must stop.” She said. “People’s hunger for peace needs to be bigger than their thirst for revenge.”

However, organizers claimed there were five blockades in total, with more than 1,000 people supporting.

Tacoma police were seen guarding the Port of Tacoma, behind the Port’s fence, in front of the Cape Orlando.

We reached out to the Tacoma Police Department to get more details on the demonstrations.

A spokesperson said officers were monitoring traffic.

The demonstrations cleared Monday at around 5 p.m.