Protesters in San Francisco Block Entry to Docked Ship in Support of Palestine

A gathering of pro-Palestine demonstrators convened near the USNS Harvey Milk, which was stationed in San Francisco on Friday morning. Reports surfaced of some protesters chaining themselves to the ship’s gangway, aiming to disrupt a media event hosted by local and national politicians and impede the vessel from purportedly ferrying supplies to the Middle East.

Approximately 800 individuals participated in the demonstration, as confirmed by Wassim Hage, media coordinator for the Arab Resource & Organizing Center. Protesters brandished signs and banners and vocalized chants urging for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the U.S.-backed armament of Israel. San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Paulina Henderson affirmed that 14 demonstrators were apprehended for trespassing, with five facing additional charges of resisting arrest.

Lara Kiswani, AROC’s executive director, denounced the ongoing funding and support of the Israeli military by the U.S., labeling it as “outrageous and unacceptable” in a press release issued on Friday.

The USNS Harvey Milk made its arrival in San Francisco on Thursday, docking at piers 30 and 32 for a single day before embarking on its inaugural voyage. While initial reports suggested a mission to Gaza, Navy spokesperson Brian O’Rourke clarified that the ship was bound for Norfolk, Virginia, where it would be stationed for a year. O’Rourke dismissed rumors of the vessel transporting supplies to Gaza as baseless.

Protesters in San Francisco Block Entry to Docked Ship in Support of Palestine
Protesters in San Francisco Block Entry to Docked Ship in Support of Palestine (Credits: Al Mayadeen English)

Despite uncertainties surrounding the ship’s destination, protesters persisted in their demonstration amid inclement weather on Friday morning. Images and footage shared on social media captured protesters standing on the ship’s gangway, chanting slogans such as “Palestine will live forever.” Some individuals reportedly chained themselves to the gangway.

Upon the arrival of law enforcement at the scene, strategic measures were taken to detain multiple suspects observed engaging in unlawful activities, according to an SFPD spokesperson. The 14 arrested protesters were later cited and released from Southern Station, with SFPD declining to specify the exact nature of the crimes witnessed.

Despite the protest, neither the departure of the ship nor any scheduled events were disrupted, as confirmed by O’Rourke. However, a media event scheduled to be hosted by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday afternoon was canceled due to the demonstration.

Kiswani reiterated the widespread opposition to Israel’s actions in Palestine and urged Representative Pelosi to advocate for an immediate and enduring ceasefire instead of endorsing the ship’s involvement in what she deemed as violations of human rights and international law.