New York police violently arrest pro-Palestine protesters marking Nakba

Several arrested as they tried to march in Brooklyn to protest the Gaza war and the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Police have beaten and arrested several demonstrators at a pro-Palestine protest in New York’s Brooklyn in the latest crackdown on voices speaking against the war on Gaza in the United States.

Protesters gathered on Saturday in the Bay Ridge neighbourhood in southwest Brooklyn, home to a large Muslim community, including people of Palestinian and Yemeni origins.

The peaceful protest to mark the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 – went on for several hours amid heavy police presence, with officers trying to prevent a march.

“Protesters began to march in the street and shortly after, the New York Police Department came in from a side street and started grabbing people at random,” Katie Smith, a freelance journalist who was at the scene, told Al Jazeera.

“They were tackled to the ground and were often placed under arrest by multiple officers, who beat them, punching them on their upper bodies and around their heads. There were multiple waves of arrests during the march, which was peaceful.”

people hold palestinian flags at a protest
A rally to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba in Brooklyn borough of New York City [John Lamparski/AFP]

Smith said the response from the local community had been one of “outrage”, especially as Bay Ridge has seen pro-Palestinian marches for over a decade, but never a police response this brutal.

Local sources said at least a dozen arrests were made on Saturday out of a crowd of several hundred. Videos from the scene showed police dragging demonstrators away as people yelled at them to stop, and a line of handcuffed protesters could be seen loaded into a van.

The NYPD has made hundreds of arrests in protests demanding an end to the war on Gaza, including during a massive raid on the campus of Columbia University at the start of May.

On Saturday, a crowd of several hundred people, including a number of Jewish demonstrators, also protested in Washington, DC under the rain to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba.

“They are Palestinian Americans and they are supporters, coming to the nation’s capital, chanting ‘free Palestine’ and accusing US President Joe Biden of being complicit in genocide,” reported Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou Castro from the scene.

Mohamad Habehh, a member of the rights group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) demonstrating, said community members have been trying to educate people about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“We see the blank checks that keep going to the Israeli military,” he told Al Jazeera.

Earlier this month, Biden halted a shipment of some 3,500 massive bombs to Israel as the Israeli military launched a ground offensive on Rafah in southern Gaza – along with other areas of the besieged enclave – despite the dire humanitarian situation.

But Biden has promised that weapons shipments to Israel are not stopping altogether, and is advancing a new $1bn package including tank shells despite growing international condemnation.

Source: Al Jazeera