Minneapolis, MN – Around 150 protesters rallied and marched in Minneapolis on May 14 to mark the 74th anniversary of Al Nakba – Arabic for “the catastrophe.” To Israelis, it’s a day to celebrate “declaring independence” in 1948. To Palestinians, it’s a day of mourning for the ensuing war when at least 750,000 Palestinian men, women and children were ruthlessly attacked, massacred, and driven from their homes by Zionist terror groups, and have never been allowed to return – in violation of international law. The Minnesota Anti-War Committee and American Muslims for Palestine organized the annual Al Nakba march to pressure for an end to the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation and apartheid.
The crowd was filled with Palestinian flags. Signs drew attention to the recent killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli sniper and also called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel.
Anti-War Committee member Autumn Lake spoke to the crowd at the opening rally, saying, “At least 47 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis since the start of 2022. This past week, Israeli Occupation Forces violently raided the Jenin refugee camp, killing 18-year-old Ahmad Fathi Masad and 20-year-old Ahmad Ibrahim Owaidat. However, the death that has caught the most news coverage this week is the deliberate murder of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli sniper. Israeli Occupation Forces would go on to raid her home, confiscating Palestinian flags and preventing ‘the playing of nationalistic songs.’ Yesterday these same forces attacked her funeral procession, denying her dignity and rest even in death.”
Lake continued, “The United States gives the Israeli apartheid state around $4 billion in military aid every single year. Aid that is used to raid refugee camps. Aid that is used to hold Palestinian political prisoners. Aid that is used to seize homes and land. Aid that is used to kill journalists. Aid that props up apartheid and genocide. President Joe Biden is on record saying, ‘America’s support for Israel’s security is unshakable, period.’”
Other speakers included Abdul from Youth for Palestine MN, Sana Wazwaz from American Muslims for Palestine, Daniela Kunkel from the Climate Justice Committee, and Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness.
After the rally at Bryant Square Park, protesters marched through the Uptown neighborhood in Minneapolis. At the Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street intersection, protesters laid down on the ground adorned in red-stained sheets for a die-in as Wazwaz read the names of Palestinians killed during the first Nakba in 1948. After blocking the busy intersection for 10 minutes, the protesters resumed marching.
One block east, at Lake Street and Girard Avenue, DJ Hooker, a member of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, spoke where Winston Smith was murdered by U.S. Marshals on June 3, 2021, and where Deona Marie Knajdek was killed by a motorist ten days later during protests demanding justice for Smith. Hooker connected the Palestinian struggle for national liberation with the Black Liberation movement in the U.S.
The next local Palestine solidarity action will be on Wednesday, May 25 at the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda. Palestine supporters will gather at 8:45 a.m. to pressure the State Board of Investment to divest from Israeli companies complicit in the occupation of Palestine. The Minnesota State Board of Investment recently divested from Russian companies within days of war breaking out in Ukraine, despite years telling local peace groups that it is unable to divest from Israel. The press conference and rally is being organized by MN BDS Community.