Pro-Palestine rally awaits Vice President Kamala Harris in Boston

Photo courtesy of WEBN

By Haley Clough, WEBN Reporter

Vice President Kamala Harris was faced with hundreds of pro-Palestine advocates on Avery Street in Boston Thursday afternoon. Harris was visiting for a fundraising event at the Ritz-Carlton around the block from the Paramount Building. Protesters involved with the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and students from universities in the Boston area organized the rally in less than a day over social media.

The tagline for the flier sent out across Instagram and other social networking sites called upon Harris to “Stop funding genocide! End the occupation! Free Palestine!” Organizers from PSL led rally cries of “Kamala Harris what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” and protesters brandished signs saying “bombing civilians is a war crime,” “if this is a democracy, represent us,” and “Boston Jews say ‘Free Palestine.’” 

Vice President Harris and President Biden’s administration have faced national criticism regarding their aid to Israel, and demonstrations for Palestine have been staged around the country in the past several weeks. The majority are led by college students or groups similar to PSL, taking the form of sit-ins, rallies, and walk-outs. 

One protest organizer told the audience that the call for a ceasefire was only the beginning. “We must know that [free Palestine] is not a threat to Jewish people… It is a cry for Palestinian self-determination, and an end to imperialism and oppression everywhere,” she said. She then turned her attention to the doors of the Ritz-Carlton. “Kamala Harris, you and the rest of the rich and powerful in Washington, and right here in the Ritz-Carlton, you have blood on your hands. Shame.” 

The protesters made it clear to Harris and the Biden administration that their positions of power were under threat from voters if they were to continue funding Israel. “Until you’re willing to say ‘free Palestine,’ I’m not gonna vote for you,” said another organizer. 

The leaders of the rally brought up cultural intersections as well. “We are seeing more and more Jewish people like myself saying ‘not in my name anymore,’ because we know that Zionism does not mean safety for the Jewish people,” said one speaker outside of the Ritz. “We know that to live our Jewish values of justice and righteousness, means to stand against Zionism. [It means] to stand with our Palestinian brothers and sisters as they fight for liberation. We must continue, we must continue because the tide is turning.”

Several counter protesters also arrived midway into the protest, met with vulgarities and anger from the pro-Palestine demonstrators, according to The Boston Globe. Jeremy, a pro-Israel advocate from Cambridge, said he was there with his 10-year-old son to show that they stood with Israel. “[We] are ashamed of the people that are shouting ‘intifada’, which is a cry for more violence,” he said. “Intifada” is an Arabic word referring to a rebellion or uprising that has been adopted by protesters as a rally cry in support of Palestinian liberation. “They sit out here for a ceasefire, but they’re trying to support Hamas while we’re trying to get 240 civilians…who are kidnapped right now with Hamas in Gaza.”

Protesters marched from around the front of the Ritz-Carlton to outside of the AMC Theater on the Boston Common, then around to the parking garage exit of the Ritz in hopes of seeing Vice President Harris leaving. Cheers and protests could be heard around the block for several hours after the rally began, despite the barricades set up to prevent individuals from entering the building to see Harris. Two protesters were arrested for entering the hotel, charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, according to Boston 25 News.