On October 14, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) along with a coalition of organizations called a protest in solidarity with Gaza at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles. More than 5,000 people attended the march and rally to show solidarity and to listen to speakers from PYM, Al-Awda, the Palestinian American Women’s Association, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) the Union of Palestinian American Women, and the ANSWER coalition.
Speakers stressed the need to counter the backlash against Palestinian solidarity in the United States and to continue organizing against the imminent genocide in Gaza. They emphasized several main points, including Israeli apartheid as history and context for the insurgency, the right of Palestinians to resist occupation, and the complicity of the US with impending/ongoing genocide. Signs carried by protestors reflected those emphases.
In addition to the mobilization by the Palestinian community, the rally drew people from many ethnicities, struggles and organizations, including some with signs reading: “Occupation is Disabling – Disability Justice means Free Palestine,” “Zionism is a Blight on Judaism,” and “Black Lives 4 Palestine.” Among the crowd one could also see flags from Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Afghanistan and Mexico. Members of the Tempest Collective, LeftVoice, and other socialist groups were also in attendance.
As the rally turned to march, protesters chanted “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “One solution! Intifada! Revolution!” among others. The spirited rally stretched for several blocks in the hot afternoon sun along Wilshire Boulevard away from the Israeli Consulate and towards the Federal Building. The enormous crowd, carrying Palestinian flags and flanked by cars and trucks flying even more Palestinian flags, moved slowly to chants of “Free free Palestine,” “When people are occupied, resistance is justified,” “No justice, no peace,” “Biden/Netanyahu you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” and “Hey, Netanyahu, what do you say, how many kids did you kill today?”
The mood was confident and spirited, showing how gathering together can cut against the siege mentality and Islamophobia of broader public discourse. Chants also included, “From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go!” At one point, marchers followed the call of a small child: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
As the rally approached the 405 freeway, its large size blocked access to the on-ramps. Although the LAPD and California Highway Patrol had stayed back for most of the rally they used this as an opportunity to move 100 patrol cars to intimidate protestors and remove them from the freeway ramps.
Once at the Federal Building, a group of about ten zionists dressed in black masks and as settlers taunted the marchers with Israeli flags and chants of “Terrorists have got to go.” The crowd of Palestine supporters swarmed these provocateurs and drowned them out with chants of “Free Palestine!” After ten minutes the crowd chased the zionists around the Federal Building and feeling scared and outnumbered, the cowardly zionists maced the crowd with pepper spray and fled in waiting cars. This altercation also provoked more police presence and provided an excuse for aggressive high-speed movements of police patrols at the intersections near the march.
After a short rally at the Federal Building the march turned back to the Israeli Consulate where more protesters were waiting and a second round of chants ensued. This rally was the largest action by far in the LA area and comes after several rallies at local universities, including at UCLA, where hundreds of students staged a walkout for Palestine on Thursday, October 12. These rallies are a welcome show of support for Gaza and Palestinian liberation at a time when dissent and support for Palestine has been silenced in cities and universities across the US.
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Héctor A. Rivera is a queer, Mexican-American, socialist educator. A member of the Tempest Collective, he lives in Los Ángeles, Califaztlán.
Dana Cloud is a Tempest Collective member and scholar of Marxism, popular culture, and social movements currently teaching at California State University, Fullerton.