Thousands Interrupt MN Gov. Walz’s Sunday football viewing to demand divestment from apartheid Israel
Saint Paul, MN – On November 19, the MN Anti-War Committee held a rally on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge over the Mississippi River that was attended by over 3000 Minnesotans. After an hour of holding signs and chanting on both sides of the bridge, the protest marched to Minnesota Governor Walz’ Eastcliff Mansion in Saint Paul to interrupt his Sunday football viewing and demand that he divest Minnesota from apartheid Israel.
Skyler Dorr, a clerical worker at the University of Minnesota and a member of AFSCME 3800, spoke about the Minnesota State Board of Investment’s (SBI) role in investing public worker pensions in companies complicit in the occupation of Palestine. They specifically mentioned Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons company, and Caterpillar, the ubiquitous construction equipment company.
Dorr stated, “There is blood on the hands of not only these companies, but also Governor Tim Walz and his SBI for continuing to invest in these companies, and yet when we cry out for Israeli bombs to stop for good, when we demand an end to the brutal, unjustified occupation, we're called antisemites. As a Jewish person myself I'm proud of the long history of my people fighting back against oppression. History rightfully praises the uprisings of the Warsaw Ghetto and the concentration camps of Treblinka, Sobibor, Buchenwald and others – history will also praise the Palestinian resistance against occupation!”
Drake Myers, a member of the MN Anti-War Committee and an associate educator in the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals Local 59, spoke about a Palestine solidarity resolution that the membership voted to pass. “We don't want to teach our kids that genocide is okay, and we don't want teachers fired for speaking out against Israel. This resolution has gotten national coverage for showing that working people in America don’t support this genocide. It acknowledges that the American government has picked the wrong side of history yet again!”
Myers also spoke about the attacks on MFT 59 after the publication of the resolution: “After posting the resolution the union has been attacked by right wingers, Zionists, who called the union antisemitic, terrorist supporters, and Jewish members who supported the resolution were told multiple times that they weren’t real Jews. As working-class educators, we are under no obligation to support racists or make space for racists or to support racist apartheids. Very much the opposite.”
Miguel Hernandez of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee was the final speaker, discussing his time in various people’s movements and the group’s recent delegation to the U.S./Mexico border. “I got the privilege to go to the border wall and see what oppression my family, my lineage, had to go through. It's hard to put it into words, to see the trauma that has stayed with generations here in the U.S. and just see that wall built. I saw these gray towers surveilling every inch of that wall, and you knew you were being watched. And those towers are made by an Israeli company called Elbit Systems.”
Hernandez concluded his speech: “Every revolution that has happened has had just as much intelligence, creativity, and power as we do here now. We can do this together. Just take a look at each other. This is what it looks like. These are the faces, the people who will stick with you, the same way people did in the Civil Rights struggle, the Chicano movement, the labor rights movement, all those movements.”
Other speakers at the protest included Donia Abu from Students for Justice in Palestine and Erin Gable from the Anti-War Committee. Protesters were encouraged to keep showing up, especially to the SBI’s next meeting on November 29, with Gable noting how direct actions like these got Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum to join on to congressional calls for President Biden to facilitate a ceasefire.