By Blaine Hopkins
On June 5, during a protest against the US government’s approval of a $700 million Boeing arms deal with Israel, pro-Palestine demonstrators rushed to defend a detained protester from the police and forced his release. The combative protest continued with a rally at the offices of arms manufacturers in Houston that produce weapons for Israel.
The protest started as a rally but quickly turned into a large, combative confrontation when organizers learned police had detained a protester who was going to his car in a nearby neighborhood. At least 80 people took to the streets and surrounded the police.
Protesters demanded the detainee’s release, chanting, “Let him go!” As more police arrived, protesters defiantly stood their ground as police tried to push them back.
The confrontation eventually forced police to release the protester. According to those who knew him, this was his second time being detained without a clear reason given by police. Organizers say the main reason that the police targeted him was racism: the activist is Black.
After returning to the Boeing offices, protesters chanted, “Viva Intifada!” and “Boeing Kills!” (“Intifada,” meaning “uprising,” in Arabic and refers to the periods of the most intense Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation.) Speakers thanked protesters for protecting the detained activist, pointed out how arms manufacturers like Boeing sell surplus weapons to the Houston Police Department, and condemned Israel as well as US imperialism for profiting off of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The protest also commemorated June 5 for its significance as Naksa Day, referring to the 1967 “naksa,” or “setback,” in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced by the Israeli state after rising up against occupation. One speaker noted that the protest was not necessarily to commemorate the Naksa as a setback but “as a reminder that we will continue to resist, that we will bring back those hundreds of thousands of refugees.”
During the speeches, four police officers walked towards protesters, saying they wanted to “build a relationship” after the unjust detainment of the activist. Many gathered around the officers to denounce the police and demand that they leave. One officer tried to shake people’s hands but protesters refused.
After the speeches, over 200 protesters again took to the streets to march to the offices of Lockheed Martin—another US weapons company. As the march passed Houston’s Clear Lake Police Department, protesters paused to chant anti-police slogans. Once at the Lockheed office, protesters chanted, “Lockheed Martin, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” before moving up to the doors of the building in defiance of the police guarding the entrance.
Protesters continued marching through the streets and blocking traffic, returning to the Boeing offices, where it was observed that the main sign had been modified with writing in marker to read, “Boeing Kills.”
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