St. Paul, MN – The MN Anti-War Committee (AWC) called on its supporters in the anti-war movement, the Muslim community and the Palestinian community on to protest Representative Betty McCullom for her recent support for Israel’s war on Palestine.
Twelve protesters, aged 14 to 84, entered her office October 25 and refused to leave until they got to speak to the representative about her silence on the loss of Palestinian lives. Meanwhile, 1000 people rallied outside the representative’s office.
Historically, the anti-war movement has seen Representative McCollum as an important congressional ally for her introduction of the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, which would have prohibited Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars for “the military detention, abuse, or ill treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; or any assistance or support for unilateral annexation of Palestinian lands in violation of international humanitarian law.”
On Sunday, October 22, over 400 Palestinians were killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes in one day. McCollum’s own constituents are concerned about her silence on the incredible loss of Palestinian lives.
Members of the AWC, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), and Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) met with her Saint Paul staff in person and later with her chief of staff over the phone. The demonstrators demanded to meet with McCollum, but staffers insisted she couldn’t come to the phone because she was on the House floor. The activists later discovered, while still occupying McCollum’s office, that while they were waiting to meet with her, she was busy voting in favor of House Resolution 771, which supported Israel’s “right to defend itself.”
Drake Myers, an activist with the Anti-War Committee, participated in the sit-in and said, “As Palestine solidarity organizers we are well aware that Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ – especially at this stage – is code for total U.S. support for the genocide of Gazans. Israel is fundamentally not defending itself; it was founded on the murder and displacement of indigenous Palestinians in 1948 and is widely recognized as an apartheid state. It is beyond shameful that McCollum, who has been a consistent voice opposing Israeli war crimes and supporting Palestinian self-determination, has made a total betrayal: voting for this resolution, issuing statements condemning the Palestinian resistance, and arresting Palestine solidarity activists instead of meeting with us in good faith.”
Andrew Josefchak, also a member of the Anti-War Committee, states, “After casting this disgusting vote, Betty McCollum had the audacity to say that Israel must constrain itself to a ‘proportional response.’ Israel has already cut Gaza off from water, food, fuel and electricity. Israel has already killed at least 7000 Palestinians. Israel has already demolished hospitals, schools and entire apartment blocks. Israeli politicians have called for a ‘new Nakba.’ For McCollum to say ‘Israel’s response must be proportional and consider the innocent Palestinian lives at stake in Gaza’ at this point is ridiculous. Israel’s actions are genocidal.”
Protesters refused to leave until McCollum promised to vote no on Biden’s proposed $14 billion in military aid to Israel and to release a statement calling for the immediate cessation of the Israeli bombing and siege of Gaza and for no ground invasion.
The sit-in began at 1:30 p.m. and continued until 10:30 p.m. All 12 people were arrested and charged with trespassing.