Detroit, MI – 70 supporters of Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh gathered here in the rain Sept. 2, before the latest court hearing in her case. When pressed by security to leave the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, the crowd stood firm. They addressed the U.S. Attorney in charge of Odeh’s case with chants led from a bullhorn across the street, shouting, “Hey McQuade, you must know, Rasmea’s case has got to go!”
Odeh has pled not guilty to the bogus charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, a charge which stems from Israeli convictions that were based on a forced confession after extended periods of vicious physical and sexual torture.
After filing into the courthouse for the 3:00 p.m. hearing, supporters learned that it would be closed to the public. They crowded in the hallway outside the chambers of Judge Gershwin Drain, waiting for news on what would happen next in the case of this beloved community leader.
After the closed session with the judge, defense attorney Michael Deutsch spoke to supporters, assuring them that the judge was aware of the outpouring of support for Odeh. “The judge knew that you were here. We told him so, and asked him to make arrangements for a bigger courtroom for the trial. Your presence is critically important.” He explained that Drain’s usual courtroom is smaller than that of Judge Borman, whose courtroom had been filled by supporters at earlier hearings. Borman was forced to step down from the case because of his close ties to Israel.
Judge Drain set Nov. 4 for the start of Odeh‘s trial, with an important hearing on Oct. 2. That will be a public hearing on several motions, including one to dismiss the charges against her. The motion argues that the indictment of Odeh sprang from what defense attorneys call an illegal federal investigation of 23 Palestinian and international solidarity activists, described by Rasmea Defense Committee spokesperson, Hatem Abudayyeh, as “a violation of our constitutional First Amendment rights.” Other important defense motions on the table that day include ones to allow testimony at trial by a torture expert, to exclude Israeli occupation court documents and to secure State Department documents from interviews with U.S. citizens who were among the 500 arrested by Israeli occupation forces in the massive sweep when Rasmea Odeh was arrested in 1969.
Frank Chapman, of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, expressed “complete and unqualified solidarity.” He said, “We have a future together,” citing solidarity from Palestinians to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and support by the Arab American Action Network (AAAN, the community organization where Odeh serves as Associate Director) for “victims of police crimes in the city of Chicago, many of them victims of torture just like Rasmea.” He pledged to bring more people to future hearings.
Jess Sundin, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, came from Minneapolis and addressed the crowd, “These charges are unfounded. Rasmea has done nothing wrong. The idea that the U.S. government could bring charges against her for the crimes that were committed against her by the Zionist state of Israel is an outrage, an insult to the concepts of justice or democracy. The U.S. government has never stood on the side of justice on the question of Palestine or Palestinians, so it is no surprise that they would try to criminalize Rasmea again. But we’re not going to let that happen – all out for Detroit!” Sundin said she would return to Detroit for future hearings, and people from across the country would mobilize for the trial.
The rally closed after Rasmea Odeh expressed her thanks to those gathered.