Saturday, October 28 was the 22nd day of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Gaza was under a 34-hour communications blackout at the time as Israel prepared to launch their ground invasion. Under clear blue skies and unseasonably warm weather, tens of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to march for a free Palestine.
The action was called Flood Brooklyn For Gaza, organized by a coalition of Palestinian liberation groups and community allies. It followed a number of other large demonstrations also organized by Within Our Lifetime (WOL) including Flood Wall Street For Gaza, Flood Queens for Palestine, and the enormous Flood Brooklyn for Palestine last Saturday in Bay Ridge (a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Palestinian population) which by WOL’s own estimate had as many as 50,000. It was also on the heels of a demonstration in Grand Central Station the night before, put together by Jewish Voice For Peace and If Not Now. That action spilled into the streets outside Grand Central and over 300 people were arrested in a mass civil disobedience, including socialist electeds Julia Salazar and Emily Gallagher and NYC-DSA co-chair Jeremy Cohan.
The march met at the steps of the Brooklyn Museum at 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 28. As people arrived at the museum steps, there were a number of speeches given, though drowned out to most except those in the immediate vicinity. Chants of “Free, free Palestine!” and “Israel bombs, USA pays, how many kids did you kill today?” and “Ceasefire now!” began to break out as the crowd swelled. Even without a vantage point to see the whole crowd, one could hear the enormity of it, with 3-4 simultaneous chants audible from any given point creating a mesmerizing din. Around 3:30pm, the march began; the trajectory had been laid out on the flier: Brooklyn Museum, then Barclays Center, and then Brooklyn Bridge. Marchers shut down all lanes of traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, stretching across two boroughs as the sun set and the large so-called hunter’s moon rose above the East River. Across the bridge, some of the crowd dispersed as the rest continued up to Union Square, making the entire trek almost 6 miles in all. Police presence was heavy throughout but there was no civil disobedience component nor were there arrests. WOL estimates there were upwards of 100,000 people.
U.S. press coverage of the pro-Palestine actions here and elsewhere, ranging from nominally apolitical to censored to hostile (see: the New York Post), has been unable to downplay the scale and frequency. Where much coverage is focused on events on the ground and the dealings of politicians, it cannot ignore the upsurge wholesale as these actions grow in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. continues to double-down on its support for Israel, voting alongside 13 other nations in the U.N. general assembly against a humanitarian “truce” on Friday.
While some like Bernie Sanders have fallen entirely short of the leadership needed in this moment, the left at large has remained steadfast in its support of Palestinian liberation. Socialist electeds Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush have been leading the charge in calls for a ceasefire in congress and in direct appeals to Joe Biden himself. Though the march on Saturday was not officially endorsed by the city’s DSA chapter, people in NYC-DSA came out alongside a number of others on the political left — many prominent signs featured language about socialist revolution and members of various sectarian orgs handed out newspapers. As this march showed, this is a time for mass action across political tendencies. There is a genocide being financially facilitated by the government of the U.S. and all socialists, all people of conscience have a duty to come together to stop it. DSA has and must continue to rise to this moment by turning out to these actions as well as organizing our own like last Friday and demonstrating and broadcasting our political message of socialist anti-war mass politics.