Evanston, IL

Pro-Palestinian Activists Protest at Illinois Rep. Home, Demands She Signs Bill to End Aid to Israel

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Protestors block traffic, demand action from Rep. Schakowsky’s on House Resolution 786 as Palestine-Israel war escalates

Members of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and supporters gathered on Tuesday, staging a traffic blockade outside Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's residence in Evanston, Illinois. The protest aimed to draw attention to the escalating conflict in Israel and Palestine, specifically calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The demonstrators, including constituents of Congresswoman Schakowsky, demanded her endorsement of House Resolution 786, initiated by Representative Cori Bush. The resolution advocates for a swift de-escalation and a ceasefire in the conflict-ridden region. This follows a previous sit-in organized by USPCN activists at Schakowsky's office, resulting in the arrest of seven protesters and subsequent closure of the office, as announced by Schakowsky herself.

The urgency of the protesters stems from the grim situation in Gaza, where, since October 7, when Palestinians and Hamas began the war by shelling Israel killing many and kidnapping hostages, 10,000 people in Gaza have been killed. The war has left thousands wounded on both sides, and the aftermath of airstrikes has resulted in numerous people missing, presumed buried beneath the rubble.

This protest follows a massive march in Washington, D.C., where an estimated 300,000 individuals rallied at the White House, echoing the call to end what they term as a "genocide" perpetuated by Israel and partially funded by the U.S. government.

USPCN-Chicago co-chair Nazek Sankari, addressing Schakowsky's role, stated unequivocally that the congresswoman is perceived as complicit in the alleged genocide due to her perceived inaction. Sankari emphasized that the demand for change is clear and non-negotiable, asserting that the closure of Schakowsky's office is a testament to the community's commitment to disrupt the status quo.

Protester Emma Rubin, herself Jewish, rejected the notion of a "humanitarian pause," insisting that what is urgently needed is an immediate end to what she labeled as Israel's "genocidal bombing, assault, and siege." Rubin's sentiments reflect a growing frustration with perceived inadequate responses to the ongoing conflict.

The coalition leading the street blockade, under USPCN's guidance, includes prominent groups such as the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Black Lives Matter-Chicago, and the worker-led mental health collective, Rayo Counseling and Community Co-op. In a joint statement, they demanded Schakowsky's support for terminating all U.S. aid to Israel and called for the dismissal of charges against the arrested protesters.

The protest lasted for over three hours, with participants chanting and rallying while law enforcement observed. Speculation arose among protesters that authorities may have been instructed to avoid arrests to prevent negative publicity for Schakowsky. Despite the absence of arrests, the demonstrators achieved their goal of disrupting normalcy, ensuring their message reached Schakowsky's doorstep.


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