On Sunday, more than 100 protesters marched on the Montana Capitol to show their support for the people of Palestine.
The “Peace in Palestine: Montana Statewide Gathering” rally was organized by Montanans in Solidarity with Palestine and saw attendees from across the state. Some protesters gave speeches while others read poetry, including the writings of a woman currently residing in the war-torn area.
Lauren L., an organizer with the Bozeman Chapter Of Montana For Palestine, comes from Jewish heritage and has family and friends who currently live in Israel. She said that the group has three demands for Motnana’s congressional delegation, especially Democratic Senator Jon Tester who heads the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Those demands include an immediate ceasefire, an ending of funds providing weapons and military support for Israel, and a lift on the siege of Gaza.
“It is not antisemitic to be anti-Zionist and it is absolutely in no way, shape or form anti-Semitic to love and care for the Palestinian people. Our liberation is intertwined, so none of us are free until all of us are free,” said Lauren.
Another organizer, Omar Awad, is half-Palestinian and has around a dozen family members living in the West Bank. He condemned the deaths of both Palestinian and Israeli people and said that he was there to encourage peace and solidarity among all people.
“There’s innocent people on both sides and there's bad people on both sides and we're here to speak up for the innocent people and try to reduce the amount of casualties of innocent people on both sides,” said Awad.
After speeches were given on the capitol steps, the group then took to marching alongside the capitol grounds before ending up in front of the office of Senator Jon Tester where they wrote in chalk on the sidewalk and building.
There was one counter-protester who attended the rally at the steps and engaged in conversation with several of the Peace in Palestine supporters. Awad told MTN he was disappointed with the language on the woman’s sign but encourages peaceful conversation with everyone about the conflict between Palestine and Israel.