The Port of Oakland was returning to normalcy Wednesday after four days of on-again, off-again demonstrations by anti-Israel protesters involving the Zim Piraeus container ship. That vessel docked at two different marine terminals before it left port on Wednesday to return to Asia.
Hundreds of demonstrators protesting recent events in Gaza descended on the port Sunday when the Zim Piraeus docked at the SSA Marine terminal. Zim Integrated Shipping Services is based in Israel. Oakland police judged the situation to be so volatile that they instructed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as well as management not to send workers to the vessel.
The ship was idled all day on Monday. On Tuesday it left the SSA terminal, went out to anchor, but was then brought to another terminal operated by Ports America. Longshoremen worked on the vessel Tuesday night, but did not finish unloading all of the cargo. The vessel then returned to anchor for awhile on Wednesday before departing.
The ILWU stated in a release that it was taking no position on the issues that sparked the demonstrations, but was doing what was best to protect the safety of its workers. Over the course of several days, the union said its members at first felt threatened by the large number of demonstrators.
However, when most of the protesters dispersed, the union said its members were concerned by the large police presence that remained. “In 2003, police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators in similar circumstances and injured several longshoremen who were reporting for work,” the ILWU stated.
While the saga of the Zim Piraeus was unfolding, three additional vessels operated by different lines docked at the SSA terminal. Those vessels were idled for more than a day over a pay dispute involving longshoremen and the employer, but the vessels were being worked on Wednesday.