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Minnesota interfaith rally, 22-mile walk, for Palestine demands divestment

By Allison Gunderson

Interfaith die-in demands Minnesota divest from apartheid Israel. | Fight Back! News/staff

St. Paul, MN – On Saturday, March 23, the Twin Cities Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage, on a 22-mile walking journey, made a stop at the Minnesota governor’s residence. There, they joined a vigil organized by the Twin Cities-based Free Palestine Coalition for a rally and die-in in front of Governor Tim Walz’s home.

The pilgrims walked 22 miles in prayerful solidarity with the 1.4 million Palestinian people of Gaza who were forced to flee 22 miles from Gaza City to Rafah by Israel’s attacks. Gazans were given false promises of safety from bombardment and combat in the southern city of Rafah.

Demonstrators demanded that Walz divest Minnesota’s public money from apartheid Israel and call for an immediate ceasefire.

A crowd of about 200 gathered to greet the pilgrims and support the call for divestment and ceasefire outside Governor Walz's current residence. Over 100 pilgrims of many faiths made their way across the Marshall/Lake Street bridge holding signs, banners, flags, olive branches and palm fronds. They were welcomed to the rally with cheering, drumming and chants.

“One of the most powerful moments was when pilgrims were crossing the Lake Street Bridge and folks at the rally were holding space at the governor’s residence. We could see each other and know that we were coming together, folks from many faiths and walks of life, to demand justice. We have to model the kind of world we are trying to build, and that’s one in which we are all working together in solidarity, because we know our liberation is bound up together” stated Clara Sanders, a member of the Ceasefire Choir and Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage planning team.

The rally then continued with interfaith speakers including Jews, Christians and Muslims from organizations such as American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Anti-War Committee (AWC), Ceasefire Choir, and the Twin Cities Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage. They spoke about the crimes being committed by Israel and the genocide that Palestinians face, emphasizing that this includes not only Palestinians of Muslim faith but of Christian and Jewish faith too. Poems were recited and speakers shared experiences they and their loved ones have had in Palestine and at the hands of the Israeli occupation.

After the speakers, tarps and bloodied sheets were laid out on the lawn for attendees to join a die-in which represented martyrs murdered by Israel while a speaker intoned a list of the names of those murdered.

Sabry Wazwaz, a speaker at the vigil and an organizer with AMP and the Free Palestine Coalition, said the rally was “very powerful. Jews, Christians and Muslims plus other faiths and people of non-faith standing together in solidarity with one voice to strongly condemn the genocide taking place in Gaza by the Israeli government.”

Wazwaz continued, “We had anywhere between 80 and 100-plus people from different churches who braved freezing temps to walk 22 miles for Gaza. Witnessing that plus the die-in was not only emotional but inspiring. Speeches from Christians, Jews and Muslims reminded everyone this has nothing to do with Arabs vs. Jews and only to do with Israel’s continued apartheid and military occupation against the Palestinian people for 76 years. Those who showed up to the rally let it be known that they are frustrated with politicians like Governor Walz, Senator Klobuchar and others’ continued silence while women and children continue to be killed at an alarming rate. No civilians, no matter where they are across the globe, should have to endure daily bombings and forced starvation.”

The rally ended with Christian, Muslim and Jewish prayers. The pilgrims left for their final destination of Bdote, Minnesota to pay homage to the sacred and historically significant site to the Dakota people. According to Twin Cities Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage, stopping at Bdote is a reminder “that our pilgrimage takes place against a backdrop of violent colonialism perpetrated by European Americans in the United States.”

A member of the Ceasefire Choir led a song with lines including “We sing together, we walk together” to send off the pilgrims on their final leg of their journey. Sabry Wazwaz of the AWC said, “The people of Minnesota came out together and reiterated they will not stop until a permanent ceasefire is called and [there is] an end to this horrendous genocide.”

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