UPDATE: The situation in Gaza and for Palestinians all over Israel/Palestine is dire, with over 500 hundred Palestinians killed, the vast majority women, children and civilians, and many more being detained in the West Bank and inside Israel. Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza has destroyed hundreds of homes, schools and hospitals, along with other civilian infrastructure. This is Israel’s third major assault on Gaza in the last 6 years. There is no excuse for the killing and strangling of an occupied, besieged and impoverished population, many made refugees several times over by Israel’s colonial designs over the last 65 years. People all over the U.S. and the world are mobilizing to protest the silent complicity of world leaders, and what human rights groups agree are Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
At protests in the U.S., there have been several incidents over the last weeks. Four people were shot at by Department of Homeland Security agents, and then arrested on charges of “assault with a deadly weapon” after driving by an Israel rally waving Palestinian flags. They were accused of attacking rally members, but subsequent reports indicate that their flag was ripped away from them and stomped on, and that there was a physical confrontation when they attempted to retrieve it.
In Chicago, 5 activists were arrested when they entered Boeing Headquarters to protest the company’s supply of military aircraft to Israel. PSLS is working with NLG-Chicago to make sure they are represented at their August 12 hearing.
In two different incidents, individuals who crossed the line into pro-Israel rallies were attacked, in one case by the police, and in another by people in the rally. Writer and activist Ali Abunimah caught on film his assault by L.A. police officers when he was talking to and filming Israel supporters who called for the elimination of Muslims. Abunimah was handcuffed and led away, and soon released to join the opposing Palestine protest. In D.C., a young woman was assaulted by an Israel supporter when she entered a pro-Israel rally. The police refused to help her.
Authorities continue to threaten protestors’ First Amendment rights when they voice support for Palestine. The same young woman counter protesting an Israel rally in D.C. was told she could not use a megaphone, was threatened with arrest and told she was violating the First Amendment rights of the pro-Israel protestors. In New York, a counter-protestor at a pro-Israel rally was not permitted to hold a sign denouncing the Gaza attacks.
As individuals continue to organize protests and actions to express their outrage, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support is providing legal advice and support.Contact us if you have questions about your protest rights, if you are planning civil disobedience actions, if you encounter problems with law enforcement, or to report an incident. For legal observers that can look out for and document police misconduct, contact the National Lawyers Guild national office, or your local NLG chapter.