New York, NY – Hundreds of protesters gathered at Union Square, April 7, to protest the bombing of Syria. On Thursday, April 6, President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk Missiles into Syria that killed nine people, including four children.
Protesters gathered on the back steps of Union Square behind a banner demanding “Hands off Syria” and signs declaring opposition to the U.S. war machine.
A round of speakers from different organizations, including the International Action Center and NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, opened the rally.
Sara Flounders, from International Action Center, said, “Does anyone here really think that that bombing yesterday had anything to do with protecting lives in Syria? Everyone here knows that this is another war based on lies. Whether it’s Trump, or Clinton or Obama it doesn’t matter who is in the White House. The U.S. military and corporations are the ones who want the wars and wage the wars and they don’t care about anyone here.”
Michela Martinazzi, from Freedom Road Socialist Organization, said, “President Trump you can’t claim to care about Syrian children when you bomb their country and then ban them at our airports. President Trump you can’t claim you care when your airstrikes murdered 200 people last month. There is no justice in U.S. intervention. There is no freedom in U.S. bombings. We must demand hands off Syria!”
The closing speeches included those by Nerdeen Kiswani and Noura Farouq from NYC SJP. They brought up the hypocrisy of the response to Syria, when in 2014 Israel ruthlessly bombed Palestine and killed approximately 2000 Palestinians.
At around 8 p.m., the Union Square crowd was joined by another protest that had started at Trump Tower earlier that day. The earlier protest was organized by ANSWER Coalition.
Close to 1000 protesters began marching and taking the streets alternating chants from “U.S. imperialist! Number one terrorist,” “Hands off Syria!” and “Out of Syria! Out of Iraq! Out of Palestine! Don’t come back!”
The NYPD kept pushing protesters back to the sidewalks, but protesters vastly outnumbered the cops and any attempt at being corralled was met with chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!”
Protesters kept marching north from Union Square. As the march continued, cops became more and more agitated at losing any semblance of control over the crowd. Cops began jostling anyone who accidentally got too close; shoving them. Several protesters were seen being shoved into nearby parked cars or knocked down.
When protesters passed the Flatiron Building, on 23rd and 5th, the cops attacked. It began with cops trying to pry the Palestinian flag from two organizers, John Becker, of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner’s Solidarity Network, and Dan Cione, of NYC Students for Justice in Palestine.
At the same time, eight to ten cops rounded on Nerdeen Kiswani, of NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, threw her on the ground, ripped off her hijab and pulled it so it choked her.
Other protesters caught in the attack were Angela Firestone of NYC SJP, Michael Bellamy of SPARC, Collin Ashley of Peoples’ Power Assembly, Stephen Millies of the Workers World Party and International Action Center, Brendan O’Brien of ANSWER and the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Jonah Quest.
While the arrests were happening, protesters lined the sidewalk and shouted at the cops, “Who do you serve, who do you protect?” A small gathering proceeded to summate what had just happened and began making plans for jail support.
Those arrested were taken to the 7th precinct and more than a dozen stayed outside doing jail support. All nine of the detained were finally let go by 1:30 a.m.
Vijou Bryant, from Gabriella New York and International League of People’s Struggles, said regarding why the NYPD reacted the way they did, “The cops were pissed with our program and our rally at Union Square. It was militant with a strong line of anti-imperialism and holding the U.S. accountable for the bombing in Syria. Our rally and march was unpermitted, and they were unsure of our route and where we were going. The only way the cops know how to deal with people protesting for the people is to physically harm us.”
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