On November 25 one of America’s most iconic shopping days, Black Friday this year was affected by protests across the country calling for a permanent ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza. Protesters called for “No More Business as Usual” on this important shopping day by greeting holiday crowds in downtown San Francisco and several other cities by disrupting the holiday excursion in bringing the reality of the war into the public sphere.
Today’s direct action here began earlier at a rally in front of City Hall where speakers condemned Israel’s Zionist apartheid regime for unleashing a genocide that has seen more than 14,000 Palestinians killed, the majority of whom were children. After the rally, the group of several hundred marched across the city down the Market Street corridor, disrupting holiday traffic before arriving in front of Macy’s department store at Union Square where they held a second rally, during which activists, much to the protesters’ delight, dropped a four-story Palestinian flag that draped the exterior of the building before being removed. One speaker noted that they are not content with a four-day “pause” but demand a permanent ceasefire and an immediate end to the war in saying “You don’t pause genocide, you end it!”
The large crowd’s presence which closed the street was enough to disrupt shoppers and culminated in the cessation of commerce during its duration affecting other businesses in the area.
While a hostage and prisoner exchange has taken place between the two sides, protesters called for the release of all those being held by both sides and an immediate end to the war. Today’s protest is one in a series being undertaken to increase pressure for a resolution through “…frequent protests, marches, walk-outs, sit-ins, and other forms of direct action focusing on political offices, businesses, and workplaces that fund, invest, and collaborate with Israeli genocide and occupation aimed at building greater momentum for the movement in ending the war.”
Activists also urged supporters to contact their elected representatives in Washington beseeching them to vote for House Resolution 786 which calls for “… an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine.” Stating that “Whereas all human life is precious, and the targeting of civilians, no matter their faith or ethnicity, is a violation of international humanitarian law.” In that “…hundreds of thousands of lives are at imminent risk if a ceasefire is not achieved and humanitarian aid is not delivered without delay.” It also declares that the “Federal Government holds immense diplomatic power to save Israeli and Palestinian lives,” while calling on “…the Biden administration to immediately call for and facilitate de-escalation and a ceasefire to urgently end the current violence.” And “…to promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.”
The resolution was introduced by Ms. Cori Bush (D-MO) on October 16, 2023 and has 17 sponsors including Ms. Bush, Ms. Tlaib (D-MI), Mr. Carson (D-IN), Ms. Lee (D-PA), Mrs. Ramirez (D-IL), Mr. Bowman (D-NY), Mrs. Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Mr. García (D-IL), Mr. Jackson (D-IL), Ms. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ms. Omar (D-MN), Ms. Pressley (D-MA), and Ms. Velázquez (D-NY). On October 25 the resolution was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Activists characterized their action by stating that “As genocide unfolds before our eyes and our government continues to funnel our money in service of ethnic cleansing and war crimes, we cannot look away.” They are also asking for all people to join in by boycotting companies supporting Israel through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
(This article has appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Nuzeink)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.
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