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Minnesota: Palestine solidarity activists demand governor divest from Israel, arrests made

By Gillian Rath

Protest at governor's residence demands divestment from apartheid Israel.  | Fight Back! News/Ashley Taylor-Gougé

St. Paul, MN – On February 28, the Minnesota Anti-War Committee organized a protest at the Eastcliff Mansion, where Governor Tim Walz currently resides. On the eve of the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) meeting, a crowd of over 100 people rallied to demand that the Minnesota governor, also the chair of the SBI, divest from apartheid Israel and weapons manufacturers.

Speakers addressed how their specific struggles relate to the state investments in Israeli apartheid. Simultaneously, 14 people participated in civil disobedience on the governor's front lawn to demand that he meet with his constituents and promise to divest.

The Minnesota State Board of Investments has $3.2 billion invested in Israeli entities and corporations complicit in Israeli apartheid. This includes weapons manufacturing companies, pharmaceutical companies, the tourism industry, heavy machinery companies and even investing $25 million in bonds directly into the Zionist state of Israel. Some of these companies, such as Elbit systems and Boeing, make cluster bombs and surveillance technology. Others, such as Caterpillar, produce armored bulldozers that are used to collapse the homes of Palestinians. The Minnesota State Board of Investments has been a political target of the Palestine solidarity movement for years.

Since the issue of funding Israel affects all Minnesota tax-payers, divestment is a unifying demand to organize around. Members of Students for a Democratic Society, AFSCME 3800, FLAGS-JP, American Muslims for Palestine, and MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee spoke at the protest.

Jasper Nordin from Students for a Democratic Society explained, “We refuse any longer to be complicit in Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people! We will not allow you, Tim Walz, to continue to use our money to carry out this slaughter. We will not relent, we will not stop showing up until you listen to the people of Minnesota and you end Minnesota’s complicity in this genocide!”

As the death toll in Gaza increases every single day, the demand to divest from Israel becomes more urgent. Additionally, as the Anti-War Committee and many other organizations have been targeting Governor Walz with no response, they saw a need for more escalation. After the first speaker, , a group of 14 activists jumped the fence and began occupying the lawn of the Eastcliff mansion, risking arrest. The activists were accompanied by bloody child-sized body bags, red poppies, and a large check stating the amount Tim Walz has “made out” to Israel.

As the rally and speeches continued, the activists remained on the lawn, at times getting on the microphone and demanding that Walz “come out and face them,” drawing attention to their demands for the chair of the SBI to divest. Many state troopers and security officers came and stationed themselves right next to the activists, preventing them, some with hostility, from moving closer towards the house.

One of the arrestees, Lina Jebara from the Anti-War Committee stated, “If Governor Walz, the chair of the board, sees issue with anti-apartheid activist sitting in close proximity to his temporary home, perhaps he can find issue with the apartheid regime slaughtering thousands of refugees in their displacement camps. As Israel’s genocidal campaign on the people of Palestine is allowed to escalate, we will also continue to escalate.”

After two-and-a-half very cold hours, the 14 activists were publicly arrested with the support of chants and drums coming from observers and attendees.

The Anti-War Committee showed up to the State Board of Investment meeting the next day and plans to continue a campaign to target the board and demand for divestment from apartheid Israel.

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