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Protest sends anti-genocide message to Biden campaign at Education Minnesota convention

By Drake Myers

Palestine solidarity protesters outside the 2024 Education Minnesota Representative Convention where First Lady Jill Biden campaigned. | Fight Back! News/Sabry Wazwaz

Minneapolis, MN – On Friday, April 15, the Free Palestine Coalition led a protest of around 100 people outside of Education Minnesota’s Representative Convention. Education Minnesota (EDMN) is a large state-level educators union that announced only the day before that they would be delaying their entire program to host the opening event of First Lady Dr .Jill Biden’s “Educators for Biden-Harris” national tour.

Protesters outside the convention drew attention to the issues of recent attacks on academic freedom, with speakers like Dr Sima Shaksari from Educators for Justice in Palestine – UMN, Michael Runyon from Students for Palestine Normandale, and delegates Amelia Marquez and Meredith Aby. Marquez and Aby were refused entry to the first lady’s speech, presumably because of their political activism in support of Palestine.

Amelia Marquez, a rank-and-file member of MFT Local 59, told the crowd, “As an indigenous person you are there to represent me. All tomorrow when you try to do your land acknowledgement, I want you to remember that instead of standing with your indigenous educator you decided to send her out here in the cold after a long day of teaching our next generation.” The crowd responded with “shame!” Marquez continued, “All day I asked my classes what I should tell Jill Biden tonight and all of my students said tell her ‘Free Palestine!’”

The presidents of the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and EDMN campaigned for President Biden and introduced the first lady, who was then immediately interrupted by coalition members chanting “Money for schools, not for war!” After they were escorted out, many other conference delegates walked out in disgust as the first lady began to campaign for her husband.

The next day, EDMN Representative Convention delegates in the Palestine solidarity movement worked hard to introduce two resolutions: a ceasefire resolution and a resolution to divest educator pensions from apartheid Israel. The debate on the floor was contentious, but the convention passed a watered-down ceasefire resolution echoing the resolutions passed by AFT, NEA,and AFL-CIO. The divestment resolution was ultimately referred to committee after a vibrant debate. Throughout the day delegates from all over Minnesota discussed the topic of their public educator pensions being invested in weapons companies and the genocide in Gaza.

The Free Palestine Coalition continues organizing for Minnesota to divest from apartheid Israel as well as calling for an end to the genocide in Gaza, an end to U.S. aid to apartheid Israel, no U.S. war with Iran, and a free Palestine.

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