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Grand Rapids holds education event, die-in for Palestine

By Sam Tunningley

Grand Rapids, Michigan march against the Israeli attack on Rafah.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Grand Rapids, MI – On Wednesday, May 8, an educational event on the link between policing in the United States and the occupation in Palestine was held before a march and die-in to stand against a ground invasion of Rafah.

The event hosted by the Grand Rapids Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (GRAARPR) and Palestine Solidarity Grand Rapids (PSGR) took place at the East Congregational Church.

In a presentation, Eduardo Montiel, made connections between the repression of the student encampments and the Palestinian struggle against occupation forces. The slide presentation made mention of the police delegations sent to Israel since 2004.

Montiel’s portion of the program also demonstrated similarities between how the CIA and Israel use propaganda, playing video examples, including the infamous “Humans of CIA” ad.

“Israel and the U.S. both use identity politics to try and sell you a version of intelligence agencies that is both digestible and relatable,” said Montiel.

This was followed by student Jessica Plichta giving a powerful speech on the recent developments in the student movement. Plichta spoke for five minutes and finished to a standing ovation from all attendees.

“The precedence in how we hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and genocide against the people of Palestine will dictate how all future cases of apartheid, occupation and genocide are handled in the modern era,” said Plichta.

After the presentation, organizers announced to the room a march and die-in in the front lawn of U.S. Representative Hillary Scholten’s house. They practiced and assigned roles before the march, with everyone who committed to the action grabbing a white sheet.

The rally, around 60 people, marched two blocks to Scholten’s house, chanting “Hillary Scholten, you can’t hide! You’re supporting genocide!” Upon arrival, around ten people laid on the lawn while protesters lined the corner and demanded Scholten halt her green-lighting of Israel’s occupation.

Scholten has consistently voted in support of Israel and refused to meet with Palestine Solidarity Grand Rapids.

After around ten minutes at Scholten’s house, the rally marched back to the church.

Applause and cheering could be heard from the parking lot, with some participants remarking on the empowering feeling of confronting those in power who refuse to heed their demands. A few commented on the positive response from the neighborhood and the number of people who observed the protest from the street.

During the organizing debrief inside the church, the cop who had been tailing the rally entered the room to hand off a symbolic dead child left on Scholten’s porch. The organizers left the church together to ensure everyone made it home safely.

The rally marked the second time organizers marched to Scholten’s house. The representative has yet to publicly comment on either demonstration.

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