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Salt Lake City rally in support of Palestinian people

Homeland Security sends dog
By David Newlin |
November 18, 2012
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Salt Lake City protest November 16
Salt Lake City protest November 16 (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Salt Lake City, UT - In response to brutal attacks by Israeli forces on the Palestinian territory in Gaza, Salt Lake rallied in solidarity on Friday, Nov. 16. Protesters called for an end to the violence and the ongoing Israeli occupation.

Organized by the Utah Anti-War Coalition, over 40 protesters gathered at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building with signs and banners, chanting, “Free, free, Palestine!” and “From Colombia to Palestine, solidarity is no crime!”

As the rally started, a Department of Homeland Security officer went through the crowd with a dog to sniff people's belongings. “This act of intimidation included children and older people,” said organizer Aren Hansen.

Hansen added, “The officer warned me to keep the crowd off of federal government property, effectively limiting the protest to the sidewalk.”

Despite the intimidation, the rally carried on and many drivers passing by honked and waved in support of the crowd.

“Here in our little town we have a really awesome group of people who are willing to do all these things - facing the cold, facing the noise, facing the harassment of the police here at the Federal Building,” said organizer and IWW member Victor Puertas.

Local anti-war activist Heather Hirschi spoke, listing the names and ages of Palestinians killed in the last several days, including those of several children.

Speakers included Hansen and Puertas, as well as Ariel Paz from the Revolutionary Students Union, Gregory Lucero from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and Justin Kramer from the Salt Lake IWW.

Kramer said, “Even though it seems like it's on the other side of the planet, nine time zones away, it is here. We fund those bullets. We fund and supply the military machine of Israel,” speaking about the U.S. government using taxpayer money to arm Israel.

Lucero’s speech emphasized the right of Palestinians to defend themselves in the face of attacks by Israeli occupation forces: "It's vital as the people in America that we understand that oppressed people have the right to fight back with whatever methods they choose."

Puertas stressed the importance of solidarity with the people of Palestine. “I identify with them as an oppressed nationality,” he said. “I identify with them as a person of color.”

Organizers say that further anti-war and solidarity actions will follow.