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Nov 8, 23

Critical Reflections on Recent ‘Block the Boat’ Actions in Tacoma

Critical reflections and report back on recent actions at the Port of Tacoma aimed at stopping the shipment of weapons to Israel. Originally published by Black Powder Press.

The Tacoma port blockade yesterday was a beautiful show of solidarity, but a complete failure. Who even needs cops when the peace police will do their job for them for free?

At 5am in the cold and in the dark, hundreds of people wanting to blockade a shipment of weapons to Israel descended on the port of Tacoma. The way the port works is if the union declares the area is unsafe, they call off operations for the whole shift. A big enough crowd blocking the entrances is usually enough, and yesterday it worked basically immediately. Success, right?

The crowd grew and split into several pickets, marching in circles in different parts of the port, with organizers in yellow-green vests keeping people from stepping out of line. A group of riot cops was stationed inside the warehouse on the pier where the boat sat, waiting to try to stop protesters who might breach the fence and enter where boats are loaded. On the outside, the protest managers in yellow vests were constantly making sure nobody was planning to enter the pier.

The atmosphere was generally festive, powerful, and people’s anger at the ongoing genocide was apparent. People came to block the port, and keep the boat from reaching it’s destination. Side goals were also making it them cost more and to create an easily reproducible action.

It felt to most like it was working great, but In the middle of the afternoon, the self-declared leaders of the action made a confusing announcement: They told everyone the action was a success and everyone should go home. People were confused and deflated. Was the boat not still sitting there? Were they not trying to block the boat from being loaded?

It turns out that the military had sent in their own workers to load the boat, and the protest organizers had known about it for hours. Had people blocking the march known this, and that marching in circles was for the publicity of the organizers and for nothing more than photo-op and a symbolic ‘show of resistance,’ things could have transpired quite differently.

Organizers spread misinformation throughout the protest and most people were convinced that marching in a circle and chanting was actively stopping the ship from being loaded or having shipments delivered. When in reality the military already had the shipment in the dock and successfully loaded all 28 containers. Out of fear of police dispersal, people were greatly discouraged and directed to not breech the chain link fence that separated them from the ship. At the end of the day, organizers called the action “over” and sent everyone home despite the ship still being in the dock.

People came to the action to block the boat. People were there to prevent the flow of arms to Israel. People were there to stand up for Gaza and put their own bodies on the line to take action to attack the war machine.

But the peace police took away people’s agency. They did whatever they could to take away autonomy from anyone other than the big O organizers. They sabotaged the action to present a false narrative of success when in fact, they had actively prevented it.

How the fuck was that a “victory”? The people of Gaza need the bombs to stop dropping. For the arms destined for Israel to be stopped. In trying to seem respectable we are shooting ourselves in the foot and nothing more. ACAB indisputably includes the peace police.

Do what you can to stop the genocide now. If you’re not willing to take action yourself, step out of the fucking way.

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