On Saturday, January 20th, Pro-Palestinian Seattle residents held another disruptive protest. The protest was organized by the Seattle chapter of Samidoun, an organization advocating for the freedom of Palestine. As announced on @samidounseattle on instagram, they continued to demand immediate ceasefire in Gaza, an end to the siege on Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and to end the occupation.
This time the protestors had an additional demand: for Sound Transit, the company that operates public transit in Seattle, to cut ties with Siemens. The reason for this is Siemens’ ties to Israel. The post on Instagram claimed that Sound Transit does business with Siemens “despite the fact that another company can produce the same vehicles and is not actively breaking international law by supporting Israeli occupation and colonialism.” Sound transit confirmed in 2021 that their vehicles are going to be manufactured by Siemens. However, Samidoun Seattle did not mention what the alternative company is.
Back in June 2023, Siemens was rumored to be boycotting Israel. Siemens responded to these claims in an interview with Middle East Monitor News - a spokesperson for the company claimed that “Siemens has been active in various fields of work in Israel for about 60 years, and it is ‘deeply rooted there.’” In addition, the Siemens’ Website has various pages of info about their work in Israel, including a contract for double-decker trains signed in 2018. Therefore, The last known fact on the issue is that Siemens does have infrastructure located in Israel.
One can compare and contrast this recent protest to one other Pro-Palestine protest two weeks prior. Both protests were announced prior and gave people time to prepare. Although there were delays in travel due to Sound Transit’s safety interventions, nobody was trapped like the cars on the freeway on the January 6th protest. There were no substantial delays as Sound Transit responded to the closure by making alternative transportation available between the stations. There were also no illegal actions, whether planned or executed, compared to the freeway protest where there was cause to arrest protestors.
Sound transit announced the closure of the train station at 5pm on January 20th. However, this news was met with some negativity from the community. X user @FlameStillLit felt that the closure meant that Sound Transit cares minimally about its riders. User @thehoffather felt that the closure of the station meant that the protest was not peaceful. When the station was announced as re-opened, X User @LushLaRue voiced that actions were not taken in a timely manner as this protest was planned and there was ample time between the announcement and the event.
Sound transit confirmed at 9:20pm that night that normal service had resumed. Local news stations started reporting the protest at around 10pm. There are currently no calls to boycott Sound Transit or Siemens.
There is still debate within the community about the logistics and efficacy of these disruptive protests. (Figure 1)
Figure 1: Discussion in Comments
Figure 1: Discussion in Comments
Two instagram users discuss the location of and disruption caused by the protest.
As the user brought up Sound Transit offices, it’s a possibility that these activists may contact decision-making executives at the offices in the near future to voice their opinions. Sound Transit has not yet commented on this issue.
Other users continue to debate this protests’ effects on the greater issue at hand. While some argue that disruptive action is necessary, others continue to state that the protest will “accomplish nothing.” There were also comments inciting hostility and xenophobia, such as referring to the protestors as “domestic terrorists” and comparing them to Hamas.
It’s also possible that this event may have implications for Siemens’ other clients. (Figure 2)
Figure 2: Highlight of Possible Implications
This instagram comment could be a springboard for discussion.
Siemens operates in over 190 countries. Many countries that recognize Palestine have entered into contracts with Siemens. Therefore, this protest could foreshadow similar pro-Palestine actions by residents of many cities and countries. Siemens has not yet responded to our request for information.
Edited by: Matsoarelo Makuke
Cover Photo Source: The Seattle Times
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