GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A large crowd gathered at Monument Park in downtown Grand Rapids Sunday afternoon to show their support for Palestine, objecting to the way Israel has retaliated for an attack carried out by Hamas militants.
Demonstrators also pointed to the longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine and the deaths it has caused. They chanted and carried signs that read “Free Palestine” and “Stop U.S. aid to Israel.”
“We’re trying to raise awareness about the struggle of the Palestinian people and the oppression that they’ve been going through for generation after generation that continues now,” Kip Curnut, a local Muslim leader who was tapped by organizers to speak at the rally, said. “And for people to stand in solidarity with them to stop the killing of innocent Palestinians women and children.”
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, nearly 2,700 Palestinians have been killed as the conflict between Israel and Hamas plays out. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in the initial strike from militants.
“I am here to stand in solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters. As a proud Irishman, I’ve witnessed firsthand what war, turmoil, injustice and suppression can do to a country,” rallier Donal Lynch said. “Peace is the only way forward, and the only way that we’re going to achieve that is without the killing of innocent civilians on on all sides.”
The rally was organized by Grand Rapids Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the local chapter of a national group that says its goal is to organize “action against unjust treatment of individuals because of race or political beliefs.” The Grand Rapids group has existed for about a year.