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New Orleans: Gulf Coast marches in solidarity with Palestine

By Naomi Retherford

Pro-Palestine protesters take to the streets with watermelon puppet. | Fight Back! News/Lucas Harrell

New Orleans, LA – On February 18, thousands of protesters from across the Gulf South and beyond gathered at 11:30 a.m. in New Orleans’ historic Congo Square. The crowd gathered to rally and then march in support of the Palestinian people and in resistance to the United States’ continued bankrolling of the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

“Our slogan must continue to be ‘No business as usual,’” said Muhammad Sankari of the US Palestinian Community Network, “it must be no business as usual until we end this genocide.”

The unprecedented Southern gathering was called in the context of the death toll in Gaza climbing to 30,000, over 10,000 being children. All the while settler violence on the West Bank of Palestine is increasing, and over a million refugees in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza brace for a new assault from the IDF.

Palestinian activists, writers and leaders from across the U.S. came to speak to the demonstrators. They condemned complicit U.S. leaders, the footsoldiers of genocide in Israel, and urged those gathered to recognize their historic responsibility to resist.

“Over 30,000 Palestinians are dead, over half of them are children, and history will not be kind to those who supported the first ever televised genocide,” said Sherean Murad, a local organizer.

“No job is worth your silence, no position is worth your silence, no scholarship is worth your silence. Why would you want to work a job that demands your silence in the face of genocide?” added Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian activist from Brooklyn.

The speakers emphasized that a ceasefire is a bare minimum of dignity for Palestinians, but the movement must aim for a total end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Shortly after the speeches, the demonstrators, holding banners and signs adorned with slogans like “Victory to the Palestinian resistance!” and “End U.S. aid to Israel” took the streets. Along with a massive keffiyeh adorned puppet and a full brass band, the march blocked off the major streets around New Orleans’ busy French Quarter. Alternating between fierce chants of “While you’re shopping, bombs are dropping!” and “By the millions, by the billions, we are all Palestinians!” and bombastic fanfare from the band, the high-energy crowd drew cheers and honks of solidarity from passing cars and pedestrians.

The demonstrators shut down the busy downtown streets until 5:30 p.m., where the demonstrators reconvened to wish their community well and commit to continuing to organize where the powers that be least expect.

The event was led by the Masjid Omar and sponsored by various organizations, including New Orleans Stop Helping Israel’s Ports (NOSHIP).

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