Police were called to a Boeing manufacturing plant in Gresham last week, after protesters picketed the site over the company’s supply of weapons to Israel.

On Friday, November 17, Portland’s chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) organized a picket at Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing facility in Gresham. Following Hamas’ attack on October 7, killing roughly 1,200 people in Israel and taking over 200 hostages, Boeing accelerated its shipment of 1,000 bombs to Israel and also pledged $2 million in humanitarian aid to all those affected in the region. 

Rallying behind the movement “Shut it Down for Palestine,” around 100 protesters circled the crosswalk at the facility’s entrance in support of an immediate cease-fire, cutting aid to Israel, and lifting the siege on Gaza. 

In hopes of drawing attention to Boeing being the world’s third largest arms manufacturer, protesters stopped cars and contractors from entering the facility. As they marched back and forth they chanted phrases like “no business as usual” and “Boeing, Boeing, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” This comes after an estimated 13,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks since October 7, including over 5,000 children. 

Despite Boeing’s Gresham facility only manufacturing commercial aircraft parts, protesters and organizers still felt it was important to send a message.

“They [Boeing] make 49% of their profits through federal government contracts, and they've sold billions of dollars of weapons to Israel,” said a PSL organizer who asked to remain anonymous, fearing potential arrest by Gresham Police, who were called to the scene Friday morning. No arrests were made during the picket.

According to the Who Profits Research Center, Boeing has made between $50 billion to $100 billion through arms sales to Israel. 

The PSL leaders described the protest as peaceful and relatively calm. After the organizers left around 9:30 Friday morning, the event took a more heated turn as Gresham police arrived and asked picketers for information on the organizers. Participants refused to turn over any information, saying organizers weren't there.

With greater numbers, the picketers fully blocked the entrance to the facility. Multiple drivers trying to enter approached the line in an aggressive manner, at times inching their vehicles forward into the crowd. One such incident resulted in a screaming match with a Boeing employee over the purpose of the protest. 

“This is Boeing commercial,” the man yelled. “It’s still Boeing,” the protesters responded, to which the man said “it’s still America.” After about a minute of arguing, the man left and the protesters cheered. While no other altercations escalated to this level, many drivers flipped off the crowd and drove away.

Among the crowd was at least one Boeing employee who supported the protest. He declined to share his name, fearing retaliation from Boeing. “From an ethical standpoint, I wouldn’t work for a Boeing military facility,” he said. “I made that intentional choice. It would pay more if I did, but there’s a line there for me that I don’t wanna cross.” He noted that protests happen at the facility once every couple years, but normally they only have a few people.

PSL leaders describe their ties to Palestine as a struggle against U.S. imperialism. They joined the Shut it Down for Palestine movement with other groups such as The Palestinian Youth Movement, National Students for Justice in Palestine, and the ANSWER Coalition to raise awareness about the crisis in Gaza. “We don't want people to be able to look away from what's happening,” the PSL organizer said. “Business as usual should not be able to continue while this genocide is happening in Palestine.” 

Protesters expressed frustration with the inaction of U.S. politicians and the complicity of U.S. corporations, saying politicians who refuse to call for a cease-fire or mitigate war “shouldn't be able to look away.” Protesters say they want to draw attention to the way US corporations like Boeing profit off the deaths of Palestinians.

Since Friday’s event, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has called for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying the hours-long humanitarian pauses in the region meant to allow residents to leave safely, haven’t been enough to counter Israel's bombing.


"Israel has unleashed a bombing campaign on Gaza of phenomenal ferocity," Merkley said in a statement released Monday. "Israel defends this campaign as necessary to strike Hamas wherever necessary. But the impression the world has been left with is one of indiscriminate bombing. Air strikes have leveled much of Gaza City and hit crowded refugee camps, schools, hospitals, and even shelters operated by the United Nations."