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Taking Collective Action for Ceasefire and an End to Genocide

Photo Source: Alexa Wilkinson (@alexabwilkinson on Instagram)

#Photo Essays#Defense of territory#Human Rights Defense
April 2024

Grassroots International

On March 7, the day of President Biden’s State of the Union Address, a group of Grassroots International staff, donors activists, and allies joined with hundreds of others in Washington DC for a “People’s State of the Union” rally outside of the White House and a mass civil disobedience to draw attention to the urgent need for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people of Gaza, in which the US is complicit as Israel’s largest military supporter. This historic mass civil disobedience successfully blocked the route of the President’s motorcade as he traveled to the Capitol, delaying the start of his State of the Union Address. This garnered major media attention across a wide variety of outlets, bringing the urgent message of the protestors to audiences nationwide.

The events of March 7 built upon an earlier day of civil disobedience last December 19 joined by Grassroots International Co-Executive Director Sara Mersha together with other leaders of progressive organizations from throughout the US.

At Grassroots International, we remain committed to taking a stand for Palestine in this moment of extreme urgency, along with the sustained work of supporting Palestinian liberation over the long haul. 

The following are reflections by some of the staff, donors, and allies who joined the DC action.

“Joining with the Grassroots International affinity group in DC on March 7 was a tremendous experience of connection and commitment. We all stand for life and justice in Gaza; this is where we want to put our own bodies. As we prepared to take the street and be arrested, we were confident together in this effort; we were a large group of committed people from all over the country.​ My decision to be a part of the DC action came out of my desire to send a direct message to Biden that my whole being says: ‘NO! Do not use my tax dollars for death, and most certainly not in a genocidal war against the people of Gaza.’ I was inspired to be with others who are willing to take a bolder step.” — Rachel Wyon

“As a Palestinian born and raised in Gaza, it melted my heart to witness our brothers and sisters in freedom and solidarity profusely and unapologetically joining the People’s State of the Union. As I spoke at the rally that was happening in concert with the action, it was liberating and healing to speak truth to power against those who are aiding and abetting genocide and are complicit in the most live-streamed genocide in modern history.” — Ayman Nijim

“I am heartbroken and outraged by the death, destruction, and displacement in Gaza. As a Jewish American, I am compelled to speak out about the urgent need to stop the Israeli siege and our government’s support for Israel. I admire Grassroots International’s longstanding commitment to Palestinian solidarity and I was honored to join with Grassroots International staff and funders and a multiracial coalition to take action together. It was powerful that, collectively, we were able to disrupt business as usual and share the people’s demands that our government divest from militarism and invest in life.” — Johanna Rosen

“I have been a board member and donor to Grassroots International for many decades, not the least because of its strategic support for Palestinian partners. Grassroots’ solidarity philanthropy is effective because it includes funding, advocacy, networking and activism. The invitation to participate in a training and direct action during the State of the Union to highlight US complicity in Israel’s war on Gaza took activism to a new level… Sharing the training and the streets strengthened for me the relationships needed for this ongoing work.” — Cathy Hoffman

“The Emergent Fund was proud to join with organizers on the frontlines to disrupt empire’s ‘”business as usual’” in a mass civil disobedience action. We cannot expect grantees to risk it all to fight back fascism and deliver our democracy with what we ourselves are unwilling to do. Now is when funders should be leading with our courage and all of the resources at our disposal to contest for power.” — Alicia Sanchez Gill

“Being part of a collective action like this was so necessary because we are in the belly of the beast of war and militarism. It was also an act of deep and radical love — love for our communities, our humanity, and for Palestinian people, and their struggle for liberation. No one is free until everybody is free.” — Trina Jackson

“As a Palestinian American, I really appreciated participating in the Grassroots International contingent at this mass action. As someone who has never participated in political civil disobedience, it was a good introduction to how such actions are organized and implemented. I was amazed to see such a diverse group of Americans organizing on behalf of Palestinian rights, including a big group from Missouri that created a banner with the names of children who have been killed since October 2023, a list that grows by the day. I hope that these demonstrations of solidarity can help bring even more people of all ages and walks of life into a mass anti-war protest movement, and that together, we can achieve real peace and justice, in Palestine and beyond.” — Maysoun Freij

“I won’t ever forget this experience of being in such beautiful and radical community of people having the courage to engage in mass civil disobedience… I was so inspired by the donor activists who took action with us and demonstrated that Solidarity Philanthropy is more than moving money; it is also leaning in at challenging moments, taking risk, taking collective action, and embodying our radical love and our political commitment. I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside people who are making manifest their solidarity, to build a world where we can all be free.” — Sasha Russell-Ciardi

“I decided to participate in the People’s State of the Union because there is a genocide happening Gaza that has been funded and weaponized by the United States government. It is critical that everyone in the US and across the world continue to pressure their governments to end their complicity in this genocide. Hearing from Palestinian speakers and being in community with them provided a sense of connection that was deeply moving. I am grateful to have felt a sense of hope during the action. Free, free Palestine!” — Maryel Cardenas

“As a member of the Jewish community, I am taking action to say ‘not in my name’ to Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people and occupation of Palestinian territory. I believe that safety for all people, including Jewish people, should not depend on settler colonialism and militarization. These systems of oppression make us all less safe. As a staff member at Grassroots International as part of the philanthropic sector, I am speaking out to encourage funders to take action in solidarity with Palestinian liberation, with our funds, our voices, and our bodies. Our liberation is bound together and we must keep taking action until everyone is free.” — Owen Berson

“I was honored to be invited to join the action as a Grassroots International donor and supporter. I deeply respect Grassroots International’s long-time practice of Palestinian solidarity and was glad to have the opportunity to not only move my dollars to support Palestinian liberation but to take embodied action too. Being on the streets calling out Genocide Joe with a multi-racial, multi-faith, intergenerational group of over 200 people and the Grassroots crew at my side was an unforgettable lesson in solidarity, love, and the power of collective action.” — Iimay Ho

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