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Seattle protesters block off World Trade Center for week of action against U.S./Israeli genocide in Gaza

By Vicki Amole

Seattle protest stands with Palestine. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – A crowd gathered around Seattle's World Trade Center for a February 9 protest against the U.S.-backed genocide in Palestine.

Chants of “Not another nickel! Not another dime! No more money for Israel's crimes!” could be heard not only from and within the building, but for blocks around. The protest called attention to the continued support of Israel's genocidal campaign by the U.S.

Speakers decried U.S. capitalists, some of whom do business inside the World Trade Center, for materially supporting a campaign of extermination in the pursuit of extracting further profit.

This event was organized by the Progressive Students’ Union, the University of Washington's chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, in collaboration with the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. It was one of many protests happening all across the country for in response to a call from the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and National Students for a Democratic Society.

“We see the hypocrisy in these institutions and are committed to use the voice that we have to challenge the forces that silence the masses,” said a member off the University of Puget Sound SDS. “Palestine is our cause, and the cause that ties us to every other struggle. I encourage us all to see the horrific conditions that have been live streamed for almost four months now, to inspire the action you can take from our positions within the belly of the beast.”

After several speakers, cars driven by activists moved to block entry to the lot in front of the World Trade Center. “We cannot allow business to continue as usual!” rang out the voices of student organizers. Chants and speeches continued, even as Seattle police grouped around in an attempt to intimidate protesters and break up the blockade, their attempts repeatedly foiled by the crowd.

Powerful speeches continued even still. “The Seattle World Trade Center is where the imperialists get together to carve up the world amongst themselves, and we are here today to say no more to imperialist profit and plunder!” said Clio Jensen, a rank-and-file union member and organizer with the FRSO. “We know that any movement of the oppressed that weakens imperialism is a good thing. It deserves our support and solidarity.’”

During the blockade and speeches, a banner drop was performed on the bridge overlooking the World Trade Center, a powerful image of solidarity visible across the dense area. After nearly two hours of disruption, well past the operating hours of the World Trade Center, the blockade began to clear out. This did not stop Seattle Police from attempting additional repression. A video caught one officer slashing tires as vehicles left the lot, a tactic used both in Seattle's 2020 George Floyd protests and those in Minneapolis.

Israel Vasquez, a member of the PSU, said, “As members of a democratic society, we cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities. We must stand in solidarity with the oppressed and demand an end to the violence and injustice in Palestine and Yemen. This means holding accountable those who perpetuate these crimes, including governments and corporations that profit from the suffering of others!”

Shortly after the vehicles were moved, all the while surrounded by demonstrators chanting of “From the river to the sea!” and “SPD! KKK! IDF you're all the same!”, the police charged into the crowd without warning, tackling or throwing several protesters to the ground. One hit her head as she fell and was brought to the nearby Harborview Medical Center. Nearby members of the crowd were hit with clouds of pepper spray fired by officers without any sort of warning.

Once the crowd dispersed, an emergency rally was immediately organized. The crowd that before attended the rally in solidarity with the Palestinian people went to do the same for their comrades who had been wrongfully arrested. Chants and further speeches went on for several more hours, while SDS rapidly organized a national call-in demanding the immediate release of all four jailed activists. Other community members came out in support, providing food and drinks to the organizers and activists who had been out on the streets for hours and hours uninterrupted.

As of the time of this article, only one of the arrested protesters has been released. Charges are pending for the other three.

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