By Fight Back! staff | July 19, 2014
Columbia Heights, MN – More than 1500 people joined a massive rally and march here, July 18, to stand in solidarity with Gaza and to demand an end to Israel’s attacks. Crowds lined the sidewalks for blocks and then took the street, marching down Central Avenue, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Twin Cities.
According to a statement from protest leaders, the demonstration was held “to give voice to growing opposition to Israel’s inhumane attacks, and to build pressure on the Minnesota’s congressional delegation to end U.S. military aid to Israel.”
Grassroots call-in days and meetings with members of the state’s congressional delegation have targeted Representatives Ellison and McCollum and Senators Klobuchar and Franken, urging them to vote against continued U.S. support for Israel.
Sabry Wazwaz, of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, urged protesters to learn from the spirit of Malcolm X in challenging U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Anh Pham, of the Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression demanded the federal government drop the trumped up charges against Palestinian leader Rasmea Odeh and called on people to pack the court room at her trial Sept. 8, in Detroit.
Meredith Aby-Keirstead, a spokesperson for the Anti-War Committee, who traveled to Gaza in 2002, explains, “Israel is bombing Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and claiming everything as a military target. In fact, they have targeted mosques, schools, hospitals, infrastructure like electrical lines and nearing 1000 homes. Last Saturday, Israel bombed a center for the disabled, killing both patients and nurses. And last weekend every single building operated by the UN for Palestinian refugees in Gaza were bombed. Israel receives over $3 billion in U.S. aid every year. Our tax dollars are paying for this massacre.”
Aby-Keirstead told demonstrators, “It is hypocritical for the president to criticize Palestinians for fighting back with rocks or rockets or whatever when Israel has been occupying, land grabbing, starving, beating, jailing and killing Palestinians for over 50 years. Palestinians are an occupied people have the right to resist.”
The protest was initiated by Anti-War Committee and Coalition for Palestinian Rights, with support from Al-Aqsa Institute of Minnesota, American Muslims for Palestine – Minnesota, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Minnesota Break the Bonds, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc) Socialist Action, Students for a Democratic Society at UMN, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UMN), Welfare Rights Committee and Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).
A large turnout is expected for the July 23 Peace Bridge Vigil, which will focus on Palestine. The action will take place 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., on the Lake Street and Marshall Avenue Bridge, which spans the Mississippi between Saint Paul and Minneapolis.