It usually takes 10 minutes, 15 at most, to get downtown from southeast D.C. On Saturday, it took over an hour. Traffic was at a standstill, and the metro was overflowing as protesters descended upon the nation’s capital to attend the People’s Forum “Free Palestine” march.
The largest “pro-Palestine” protest in American history was centralized at Freedom Plaza — just a block away from the White House — but spilled into the surrounding areas as thousands of protesters splintered off into dozens of miniature rallies in the side streets. Roads were closed until 7 p.m.
It’s unclear how many people attended the march. Some initial estimates suggested the crowd size would peak with around 20,000 attendees, while activists say it exceeded 100,000. One D.C. police officer said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were “around 200,000 people” in attendance but “had no clue” what the actual number was.
The intersectional and multicultural coalitions were out in full force with “Koreans for Palestine,” “Kurds for Palestine,” “Ecuadorians for Palestine,” and “Queers for Palestine” in attendance.
As is the case with every “decolonization” protest, national monuments were defiled. Statues of national heroes such as Benjamin Franklin, Rochambeau, and Gen. John Pershing were covered in Arab keffiyehs (headscarves noting allegiance to Palestinian nationalist movements), graffitied with vulgarities, and had Palestinian flags placed upon them.
In Freedom Plaza, students from the College University of New York Internationalist Club gathered around and atop the statute of American Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski to call for “socialist revolution” in the Middle East.
Demonstrators from around the country demanded President Joe Biden — “Genocide Joe” — end American aid to Israel and called for a ceasefire in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — “Satanyahu” — another target of the protesters’ derision, was likened by some to Adolf Hitler.
Several protesters held signs suggesting that Israel’s retaliation against Hamas for the Oct. 7 attacks is inherently an unjustifiable escalation of violence.
Event speakers reiterated the crowd’s anger with Biden, emphatically suggesting that Muslims should deny Democrats their votes down-ballot during the 2024 election cycle and led the crowd in chanting the genocidal slogan, “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free.”
One speaker, Nihad Awad from the Hamas-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations, said anti-Israel activists should not be “scared” or “intimidated” by “university officials” or “governors” when “they declare that your activism is illegal.” Of course, activism is not illegal, but antisemitic hate crimes and terrorism are.
With great admiration from attendees, speakers repeatedly called for “decolonization” of the Middle East and an end to “Western imperialism” and “settler colonialism” while expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement’s goal of ending Western hegemony.
Among the crowd, calls for “intifada” and “revolution” were common, while young children were handed megaphones by their parents to lead smaller groups in reciting genocidal chants.
Nazi iconography was also present, as was a fervently anti-circumcision pagan dressed as Santa Clause who emphatically insisted Ashkenazi Jews were actually descended from the Turkic Khazars and, as such, had no claim to Israel.
The protest concluded with a march to the White House, where protest attendees partially scaled the fence, and the crowd chanted the jihadist slogan “Allahu Akbar.”