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MN protest challenges Senator Franken’s support for Israel

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
October 28, 2014
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Oct. 27 protest outside of Senator Al Franken’s campaign office
Oct. 27 protest outside of Senator Al Franken’s campaign office (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On Oct. 27 a coalition of Minnesota community organizations working to raise awareness about injustices against the Palestinian people protested outside of Senator Al Franken’s campaign office. As Senator Franken prepares for reelection, the anti-war movement condemns Franken’s unconditional support for Israel’s human rights violations, including his introducing legislation to extend U.S. military aid to Israel. Protesters called on Franken’s supporters to express their disapproval of his stance towards Israel.

On July 30, while the bombardment of Gaza was raging, people of conscience held a protest at Franken’s campaign office to urge him to “see Gaza” and end his support for Israel’s attacks. A group of 20 people went into Franken’s campaign office to speak with Franken on the phone and demand that he make a statement calling on Israel to stop the attacks. When his campaign staff refused to put Senator Franken on the phone, the protesters staged a sit-in while reading the names of the hundreds of people who had been killed in Gaza that month in the attacks. At one point the campaign leadership put Senator Franken on the phone to speak to the protesters, at which time he reiterated his support for Israel’s “right to self-defense” and bombing of the Gaza Strip. When asked whether Palestinians had a right to self-defense, Franken had nothing to say. The protesters continued their sit-in in commemoration of those killed, prompting the arrest of 15 people for civil disobedience.

The 15 participants of the sit-in have their first court appearance on Oct. 28 at the Ramsey County Courthouse. The arrestees joined the Oct. 27 protest outside Franken’s campaign headquarters to denounce again Franken’s continued support for Israeli war crimes.

Jennie Eisert, of the Anti-War Committee, spoke to the protest, “As a Colombian I am here and was arrested in there to try and shed some light on what was, has, and still is happening to the Palestinians. I consider many to be brothers and sisters. I know that nothing good comes from the aid of the U.S., it is all for military purposes. The Colombian people, just like the Palestinians, want their freedom and our task in the U.S. is to be in solidarity with them. We need to hold politicians like Franken accountable when they vote to send weapons to repressive governments - whether it be Israel or Colombia - and to say money for human needs and not for war.”

The protest was organized by the Anti-War Committee and endorsed by MN Break the Bonds, the Coalition for Palestinian Rights and the MN Peace Action Coalition.

The next action will be at the last debate between candidates running for Minnesota’s seat for U.S. Senate on Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange Street in Saint Paul. Anti-war protesters will be there to ask audience members to press candidates on whether they support U.S. aid to Israel.

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