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Palestinians in Chicago stand up to police repression

By Gabe Miller

Chicago Palestine solidarity movement stands up to repression. | Fight Back! News/Alec Ozawa

Chicago, IL – Thousands of protesters took Michigan Avenue, Saturday afternoon, April 20 and marched to demand an end to U.S. funding for Israeli genocide in Palestine.

Led by the Coalition for Justice in Palestine, this was the 32nd mass mobilization since October 7 and demonstrated that people of Chicago are not intimidated by recent police escalation and repression in Chicago and across the country.

On Monday, April 15, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) harassed and arrested more than 50 protesters exercising their First Amendment rights at two separate actions demanding an end to the U.S.-funded genocide in Gaza.

The majority of arrests took place on the Interstate 190 access road to O’Hare airport as hundreds of protesters shut down access to the major international airport between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. At the CJP-led mobilization downtown that afternoon, CPD made 14 arrests of protesters, most of whom were Palestinian. Five are being charged with felony offenses. Police officers aggressively put their hands on protesters, and in one case ripped a woman’s hijab off her head.

In reference to CPD’s escalatory behavior on April 15, Diana Ahmad of American Muslims in Palestine addressed the crowd stating, “We are under no false impression that the acts that occurred that day were intended to ‘serve and protect’ anyone other than a racist, deceitful institution predicated on centuries of racist policies.”

Despite CPD’s repressive tactics, Nick Sous of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network urged Saturday’s attendees to keep protesting, stating, “Mark my words, we will continue to hit the streets every single week until the total liberation of our land, from the river to the sea,” eliciting cheers of approval from the crowd.

With the Democratic National Convention promising to draw tens of thousands of protesters enraged at the Democratic party’s complicity in genocide to Chicago this August, and with the Palestinian movement in Chicago employing increasingly advanced tactics to mount pressure on the ruling class, the police are escalating their repression in response.

“The reason police are getting more aggressive at our protests is because they see that we have not stopped coming out week after week,” said Kobi Guillory of the Chicago Alliance in his remarks at the rally.

Guillory connected the police repression of the Palestinian movement to that of the Black liberation movement. On Thursday, April 18, CPD officers barred some members of the public entry to some to a Police Board hearing regarding the recent murder of Dexter Reed by five plainclothes police officers in the 11th District.

“We know that the [Israeli Occupation Force] trains CPD, so we’re gonna dismantle this entire system, from Palestine to Chicago,” Guillory said.

The demonstration’s emphasis on resisting police repression also comes on the heels of the decision by Columbia University President Nemat Shafik to call the New York Police Department to arrest hundreds of students protesting their school’s complicity in the Israeli genocide.

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