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Minneapolis: Palestinian-Black solidarity teach-in

By Loretta VanPelt

Left: Speakers Jae Yates and Sabry Wazwaz. Right: Event attendees. | Fight Back! News/staff

Minneapolis, MN – 150 people gathered at Redeemer Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis on January 4 to listen to an in-depth discussion about the link of the Black liberation struggle and the struggle for liberation in Palestine.

Jae Yates, an organizer with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) and Sabry Wazwaz, a Palestinian organizer, spoke about the connections between U.S. police violence and the violence the Israeli occupying forces are inflicting on the Palestinian people.

Yates gave the history of Palestine and how groups like the Black Panthers and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee were supporters of Palestine in the 1960s and 70s. He also spoke about the roles that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and the U.S. have in exchanging training techniques designed to harm. He gave as examples that George Floyd’s killers participated in IOF trainings, and that Cop City in Atlanta, Georgia is an exact replica of a training facility in Israel. Yates said that the way forward is through community control of the police, and that the folks who are harmed the most by police should be the ones who get to hold the police accountable.

Wazwaz spoke of how this is not about Arab versus Jew, but that people are against the apartheid state of Israel and the continued bombardment on Gaza. He gave great detail of how the Israeli propaganda has brainwashed people into believing that Israel is the victim in all of this, and urging folks to continue to not only support a free Palestine, but also support the movement for Black lives in the U.S. He pointed out prominent Black and Jewish figures who have supported Palestine.

Both Wazwaz and Yates pointed out that during the Michael Brown uprising in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, while Palestinians themselves were dealing with bombings, they gave advice to protesters on what to do about tear gas. Yates noted that during the 2020 uprising in Minneapolis this happened as well.

This teach-in was well received by all who attended, and organizers expected that folks went away with an awareness of the link to the Black liberation struggle in the U.S. and the Palestinian liberation struggle.

At the end of the talk there was a call to action for participants to sign a postcard to send to members of the Minneapolis city council with the following demands: “Bar MPD and its officers from participating in any deadly exchange programs with IOF; oppose the use of military weapons and tactics by police in our city; ensure none of our tax dollars support genocide.

“We want transparency: are any of our local tax dollars invested in weapons manufacturers, banks and companies involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, or otherwise enabling the occupation? We want a commitment to divest from all of these.

“Support a Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC) – we need to put power over police into the hands of community members, to bring an end to racist policing and ensure MPD officers never collaborate with IOF.”

This teach-in was part of the week of action called by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) and The US Palestinian Communities Network (USPCN).

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