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Chicago rally demands ‘Free Rasmea now’

By Joe Iosbaker |
November 13, 2014
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Chicago protest demands freedom for Rasmea Odeh
Chicago protest demands freedom for Rasmea Odeh (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - 250 people came together here, Nov. 12, in the Federal Plaza to express their grief and anger at the injustice that took place on Monday, Nov. 10, at the trial of beloved community leader Rasmea Odeh.

Being convicted in Detroit was bad enough; much more painful for her supporters was her jailing pending sentencing, especially since Odeh is 67-years-old. Speaker after speaker at the rally noted that Odeh has incredibly strong ties to Chicago and the U.S. and is not a flight risk or a danger to society, contrary to the statements by Judge Gershwin Drain, who presided over her case.

Chants started with “DOJ, let’s be clear, Rasmea is welcome here!” and later changed to “What do we want? Justice! If we don’t get it? Shut it down!” Finally, the crowd chanted a condemnation of the trial, “Appeal, re-hear, get Rasmea out of jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”

The crowd was made up mainly of young people from the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters around the area. There was also a sizable contingent again of the members of the Arab Women’s Committee, the organization created by Odeh in her almost ten years with the Arab American Action Network.

Speakers stood up to denounce the prosecutor, the judge and the U.S. Department of Justice. One was Mariame Kaba, a main organizer of the group We Charge Genocide, which has been the most visible face of the mass protests around police crimes in Chicago this year. In a few words, she summed up the feelings of the crowd when she said, “We should call the system the ‘injustice’ system!”

Frank Chapman, field organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, who was a leader in the movement that freed Angela Davis in the 1970s, attended almost every day of the trial and several of the pre-trial hearings. Having seen countless trials, he said, “This was the most dastardly political trial I ever witnessed. The truth is this was an attack on the Palestinian people.”

Hatem Abudayyeh of the Rasmea Defense Committee, noted, “Our immediate task is to get her released from jail, so we are writing letters to the judge and holding emergency protests around the country.”

Nerissa Allegretti, a member of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, taught a chant she learned back home in the 1980s, “From Palestine to the Philippines, stop the U.S. war machine!”