Hundreds of people were out at Baltimore’s Penn Station on Nov. 1 to protest against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians. The rally, led by Baltimore Palestine Solidarity, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace and Ujima People’s Party, targeted U.S. political and economic support for the war crimes committed by Israeli forces which illegally occupy Palestine.
After the crowd gathered, organizers led a march to the 7th district congressional office where Baltimore Rep. Kweisi Mfume is based. Despite Mfume’s progressive reputation in Baltimore, largely based on his opposition to city funds going to apartheid South Africa when he was a member of the City Council, and on his time as president of the NAACP, he has consistently supported the occupation of Palestine.
Mfume said in a podcast recorded in 2021: “I strongly believe in boycott and divestment when it is applicable to a situation that has historically and continues to find a way to oppress people.” He added later: “It has not risen, in my opinion, to the level [of] hundreds of years of oppression by the Afrikaners in South Africa against the indigenous population, which was the majority. …”
A speaker at the rally asked if Palestinians will only be considered “oppressed enough” after several hundred years of more suffering? And, if no, the speaker continued, how can somebody who fights against other examples of oppression sit idly by and allow a genocide to continue for any longer, much less hundreds of years?
While the rally continued outside of Mfume’s office, 20 organizers were inside holding a sit-in. Their demands were: Mfume arrange a meeting with them, acknowledge the ongoing genocide of Palestinians and co-sponsor Congressional Rep. Cori Bush’s House Resolution 786, “calling for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine.”
After several hours of protesting, organizers were told that they would get a meeting with Mfume. Despite this, the representative issued a statement saying, “I am not a cosponsor of H.Res. 786, because it fails to condemn the Hamas terrorist group of its responsibility for this war.”
Workers and oppressed people in Baltimore know all too well that elected officials represent the ruling class, not the demands of the people. Speakers at the rally pointed out the connections between the Israeli Defense Forces in Palestine and the Baltimore Police Department – two U.S.-military-trained organizations that kill and oppress Palestinians abroad and Black people at home.
Speakers also brought attention to important matters, such as acknowledgement of the grief and emotion over these killings, the consistent and powerful momentum of the Palestine liberation movement and its impact in Baltimore and the solidarity between the people of Baltimore and oppressed people everywhere.
Signs and shirts handed out by If Not Now bore slogans including: “Jews say cease-fire now!” and “My grief is not your weapon” and “No genocide in Gaza!”
The people of Baltimore will always support the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation in the face of colonization and genocide!