350 people in Olympia March in Solidarity with Palestine

350 people in Olympia March in Solidarity with Palestine

On May 4th 2024, people demanding a Free Palestine and an end of U.S. aid to Israel marched through downtown Olympia, Washington. Just after 2pm on a cold and rainy Saturday, around 350 people gathered at the Fountain on 4th Ave and Water Street to rally and march in solidarity with the people of Palestine. The space quickly filled with people of all backgrounds ready to mobilize.

The rally's first speaker exposed U.S. government complicity in Israeli war crimes, mentioning local U.S. congresswoman Marilyn Strickland's recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister/War Criminal Benjamin Netanyahu on an AIPAC-funded trip. The second speaker shared their own historical and cultural connection to Palestine and highlighted the ethnic and religious diversity in the occupied land. The third speaker, who was inspired to speak at a rally for the first time, emphasized the importance of the Ummah, or community, transcending across cultural and class divisions to work in solidarity with Palestine.

An acrobatic flip from a young taekwondo student concluded the first set of speakers, energizing the crowd. People with signs and banners began chanting "Free, Free Palestine" as everyone moved closer to 4th Ave in preparation to take the street. After our cars and bikes got into position, blocking off vehicle traffic from nearby intersections, protesters poured into the street and the march began.

The loud chants and drums shook the buildings and could be heard from blocks away. Marchers moved in close formation, bicycle riders zoomed past the march to block off each intersection as the group advanced. Informational leaflets and literature about the occupation of Palestine written by local solidarity organization Palestine Action of the South Sound (PASS) were distributed to people in the area. Some people even joined the march from the sidewalk and from inside restaurants.

After the bike brigade assumed control of the busy Plum street intersection, the group moved forward, eventually turning down State Street. The loud chanting kept going and the contingent briefly stopped at the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural. The group paid respect to Rachel Corrie, the martyr from Olympia who was killed by an IDF-operated bulldozer in Rafah in 2003. A speaker got on a mic to emphasize the Olympia-Rafah connection and express solidarity with the besieged people of Rafah. The speech condemned war profiteers like RE/MAX and Boeing who continue to accumulate wealth from the Israeli occupation. The intermission concluded with the speaker demanding an end to the Nakba in Palestine and global dispossession.

The march continued on until it reached its final destination along the water at Percival Landing Park. Three more speakers closed the event with calls for continued organizing against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They drew parallels to various anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles, including student organizing.

Both the rally and march were held without any permits or collaboration from the city or state. The police closely surveilled but did not know the route so remained a step behind the entire time.

The march was intergenerational and diverse. From babies pulled along in wagons to elders distributing literature, different sets of the community rallied for a Free Palestine. People persevered through the rainstorm. The turnout may have been even higher under different weather conditions.

Marching in the streets reminds us that together we have the strength and ability to shut down sectors of society. It lets everyone know that business will not go on as usual while these atrocities continue. Our presence in the streets makes us impossible to ignore.

From the May 4th Street Team

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