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New Orleans community members gather in support of Palestine, ceasefire resolution

By staff

Pro-Palestine protesters hear speeches at Lafayette Square. | Toni Jones/Fight Back! News

New Orleans, LA – On Saturday, June 29, nearly 100 community members gathered in Lafayette Square to show support for Palestine, and to put pressure on local lawmakers to pass a ceasefire resolution.

Leading up to the rally, the city’s local Palestinian coalition hosted cultural and political events from morning to evening. The day started with a cultural exchange and bazaar in Harvey. Bazaar participants then drove in a motorcade to Lafayette Square. At the Square, speakers from many local groups and one politician addressed the crowd. English and Arabic chants, such as “Free, free Palestine,” rang off the walls of the many federal and local government buildings in the area.

“We must only engage with those who want to build power with us, and that’s our primary strategy as a community is building power, before voting,” said a speaker for Palestinian Youth Movement – New Orleans. “This means that we must not think of civic engagement in terms of political maneuvering and convincing politicians to be on our side, but instead it's all part of a broader strategy to build community power,” he continued.

For the last few months, the New Orleans community has been attempting to get local politicians like Troy Carter and members of the New Orleans city council to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire. Organizers want these politicians to also actively support ending all trade and cultural ties with the genocidal state of Israel. But elected officials have refused to implement even a simple demand for a ceasefire resolution.

Protesters believe that building community power will help the over 40,000 Palestinians living in the New Orleans metro area into pressure the local leaders into helping end genocide, or electing new leaders who represent the people’s demands.

Devin Davis, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, led the crowd in chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” He spoke in condemnation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which funds his opponent.

Organizers also condemned political repression against their efforts.

“Every time the people of this country stand up against the ruling class and its various atrocities, they are met with brutal force,” said Shreyas Vasudevan, a local organizer with NOSHIP and an arrested participant in the student encampment at Tulane University. “We refuse to be intimidated. We will never apologize for standing in solidarity with Palestine, and will fight every bogus charge they lay on us.”

Vasudevan’s comments are a response to a pattern of intimidation and oppression suffered by the community for thinking that the U.S. actively supporting a genocide is wrong. Toni Jones, a local organizer with New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police (NOCOP), was arrested in March for protesting next to Tulane’s campus. That same month, NOCOP member Felix Allen was arrested for giving public comment at the Port of New Orleans board of commissioners monthly meetings in opposition to the Port’s Innovation Embassy with Israel. Multiple students and community members were arrested at the recent encampment on Tulane’s campus for not putting up with the university’s continued financial and cultural ties to Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). These acts of repression will only continue, but they will only act as a glue that will bind the community closer.

The rally was planned as a march from Lafayette Square to City Hall, with Congresswoman Cori Bush – author of the Ceasefire Now Resolution – as one of the speakers. Unfortunately, due to a death in the family, Congresswoman Bush had to postpone the visit.

Lead organizations included Masjid Omar, Palestinian Youth Movement, and AMAANA, a local Palestinian-led care group for people living with disabilities. New Orleans Stop Helping Israel’s Ports (NOSHIP), Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) also helped organize the rally.

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