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Protestors Disrupt Thanksgiving Parade With One Message: End Genocide, Don’t Celebrate It

This Thanksgiving, pro-Palestine protestors and Indigenous people refuse to allow the whitewashing of past and ongoing genocide.

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Fatih Aktas/Anadolu via Getty Images

Today, pro-Palestine protestors disrupted Thanksgiving Day Parades in New York City and Detroit, all sending the same message: end genocide, don’t celebrate it. 

In Detroit, protestors marched in front of the Thanksgiving Day parade route carrying banners reading: “From Turtle Island to Palestine, genocide is a crime” and “Detroit stands with Gaza,” giving a spotlight to Palestine during Israel’s ongoing atrocities.

In Manhattan, protestors disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual corporate parade watched nationwide, with signs and banners reading “Genocide then, genocide now.”  Climate and Pro-Palestine activists glued themselves to the ground in front of a Sinclair Oil Corporation float, the big green Dinosaur. Protestors sat in front of the Ronald McDonalds float, calling out McDonald’s support for Israel. Afterwards, a massive crowd marched through the streets of Manhattan, denouncing Starbucks, Microsoft, and others, and demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel and the Israeli occupation and siege, and a free Palestine from the river to the sea. In New York City, police arrested over 20 demonstrators. 

On one float stood members of the Wampanoag nation, the Indigenous group that was part of the Indigenous-European contact upon which the Thanksgiving myth of Indigenous-settler harmony was founded over 400 years ago. Several people on the Wampanoag float raised the Palestinian flag, which appeared on television screens nationwide and demonstrated the inextricable link between Indigenous struggles worldwide. Like Palestinians resisting Israel’s ongoing apartheid, settler-colonialism, and genocide, the Indigenous people of North America refuse to allow for the erasure of the history of Indigenous genocide and chattel slavery upon which the United States was founded.

The Thanksgiving protests come in the context of an announced (but not yet enforced) four-day “humanitarian pause” of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza — just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, which many have noted was conveniently scheduled over an American holiday weekend based on genocide and consumerism. According to Politico, the Biden administration was wary of such a pause because “it would allow journalists broader access to Gaza and the opportunity to further illuminate the devastation there and turn public opinion on Israel.” 

The temporary ceasefire is the result of the massive mobilizations all over the world demanding a ceasefire, as well as the mobilization in Israel with people demanding that Netanyahu bring the hostages back, with some taking a pacifist approach and demanding end to the bombing.

We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that this pause will be the end of the atrocities. Israel has made clear that it intends to continue the bombings after these four days and the brutal apartheid state and occupation remains. The brief pause has nothing to do with humanitarianism, and everything to do with trying to pacify the politicized youth participating in the Palestine liberation movement in the streets.

The demonstrators today showed us that, now more than ever, we cannot turn our eyes away from the horror that continues to unfold in occupied Palestine.  The only way to truly end the occupation of Palestine is the international working class uniting to demand the end of the genocide as well as the racist apartheid state of Israel.

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Emma Lee

Emma is a special education teacher in New York City.

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