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Palestine solidarity movement challenges democrats at MN state convention

By Omari Hoover

Pro-Palestine protest at Minneosta DFL convention in Duluth.  | Fight Back! News/Meredith Aby

Duluth, MN – On June 1, between 300 and 400 people from across the state protested the Minnesota DFL State Convention at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (the DECC).

It was a show of broad geographic support for ending the U.S. support for Israel’s genocidal military campaign in Gaza, and against the stances of DFL (the name of the Democratic Party in Minnesota) politicians like U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Governor Tim Walz, who have shown strong support for Israel.

From the Twin Cities, the Free Palestine Coalition organized two busloads. The protest also included people from northern Minnesota’s Ely and the Iron Range, as well as Northfield, the home of Carleton and Saint Olaf Colleges, and other parts of the state.

The day began with a rally at Duluth City Hall. Over the course of a few hours, people trickled in for speeches and performances, joined by participants in the Palestine encampment next to the Saint Louis County Courthouse and the Federal Building. By the time the march began, from the Duluth City Hall to the DECC, it was a sea of Palestinian flags and signs and posters for divestment from Israel.

On arrival at the DECC there was a display of rubble, signifying what was left in the wake of Israel’s constant bombardment in Gaza. People placed body bags on top of the rubble and read the names of Palestinian child martyrs since October 7, 2023.

Inside the convention, where Klobuchar promised to work towards the federal codification of abortion rights and amending tax law, Palestine supporters in the hall urged her to acknowledge the role the United States and Minnesota have played in aiding Israel.

The few Free Palestine Coalition organizers who were able to get into the convention as delegates expressed contempt for the DFL’s overall avoidance of Palestinian genocide. From the rally outside, Free Palestine Coalition member Brooke Bartholomew said, “The idea of a rally at a DFL convention is because the Democrats at the state level are incredibly complicit. They are not unaware of the ongoing genocide. There are people who were previously with the DFL, and this was a way to show them that people are dissatisfied and disappointed. They have the power to repeal anti-BDS [boycott, divest, sanction] laws and divest from U.S. participation in weapons manufacturers.”

One of the delegates attending from Minneapolis, Kevin Aldwalk, after having attended multiple DFL conventions said, “I never in a million times would have expected this level of awareness and support to the Palestinian cause. The Uncommitted caucus managed to push through some significant resolutions and amendments. This couldn’t have happened without the support of multiple coalitions. From our progressive brothers and sisters, the anti-Zionist Jews, the amazing people at the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, to the wonderful people of Jewish Voice for Peace and many others. Centrists and old guards within the DFL didn’t know what hit them.”

Immediately outside of the doors of the convention center, next to a banner, reading “Divest Minnesota from apartheid Israel! No tax $$$ for genocide,” Meredith Aby, a public school teacher, told of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee targeting the State Board of Investment to pull public employees’ pensions and investments from companies that do business in apartheid Israel.

Aby stated, “Every state employee’s pension is forced into investments in Israel. I’m a public school teacher and I don’t know any other teacher that wants to invest in more weaponry.”

A Jewish Voice for Peace member who was also involved in the recent encampment at the University of Minnesota stated, “Nothing Israel does makes us safer. Muslims are not my enemies and 90% of Zionists are Christian. What Israel is doing makes things worse for Jews and causes a generalization of assumed Jewish participation.”

Aby encouraged participants to continue to pressure the DFL and to join the Minnesota Anti-War Committee in traveling to Chicago to protest “Genocide Joe” in person at the Democratic National Convention.

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