In a bold action, for the first time Block the Boat activists from Tampa delayed the unloading of a ZIM boat from Port Tampa Bay, the largest port in the state of Florida. For more than 5 hours Saturday morning they blocked the entrance to the port causing what one activist described as an “apocalyptic traffic jam.”
Chaining themselves by the neck to a parked car in front of Port Tampa Bay’s entrance, Block the Boat activists thwarted Tampa’s police force who were seemingly dumbfounded by their inability to disperse the activists and end the action. With traffic clogged the police had little choice but to wait it out with the activists as the sun was rising and until back up finally arrived who were then able to cut the chains binding the activists to the vehicle.
Eventually, according to Ahmad Saadaldin, “the boat unloaded unfortunately, but there was a MAJOR delay. Port of Tampa has never seen anything like this before. It was an apocalyptic traffic jam. It’s all inspired by Block the Boat Oakland.”
Along with consumer-based products, Zim transports Israeli military products, weaponry and Israeli-made military vehicles into the United States, according to key Block the Boat organizer Lara Kiswani, from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC). “Ninety-eight percent of Israel’s trade is maritime. Zim is its largest shipping line. That in and of itself tells you it has a huge stake in Zim itself, and it’s a security asset and they name it as such. The Port of Oakland is the fifth largest port. So those two things combined tell us that if we make a dent in that partnership, or that relationship, there is definitely an economic impact.”
Kiswani describes “Why we are blocking the boat“:
By stopping Zim we are disrupting international commerce and an asset to Israel’s national security. We are not only choosing to refrain from buying an Israeli product, or engaging with an Israeli institution, we are choosing to take action to stop Israel in its tracks. And we are doing so in struggle with workers, with Black and Brown communities, and with all those impacted by the role of Israel in global repression. The Block the Boat campaign is not only an escalation of BDS tactics; it is bringing BDS into the streets and into our communities.
In the words of Block the Boat Tampa activist Dezeray Lyn “Do not hesitate to take action to suffer the governance of a genocidal, apartheid state. Do not hesitate to manifest solidarity. Until all are free, none are free.”