Palestine solidarity protest disrupts Baltimore City Council, demands divestment

Protesters demand Baltimore City Council action against genocide in Gaza, Dec. 4.

On the evening of Dec. 4, the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly led a banner drop and disruption at a Baltimore City Council meeting. The demonstration was held to place pressure on the city to pass a resolution that calls for a ceasefire, pledges complete divestment from the Israeli government, and ends all training exchange programs between Baltimore law enforcement and Israeli security forces. 

Approximately 45 pro-Palestine protesters entered the city council meeting at approximately 5 p.m. This was after Baltimore Police initially stopped the group from entering for about half an hour after they attempted to enter at 4:30. This is usually when the public is allowed into the meetings. Other individuals waiting to enter the building commented that the delay was strange. 

After the group entered, they proceeded to the sixth-floor balcony overlook. The sixth-floor balcony contains far more seating than the main council chamber, which is located on the fourth floor. The balcony was open at first. However, the police informed the group that the balcony was suddenly closed. 

The activists complied and split into two groups: those in a cramped “overflow” room and about six to eight who made it into the main chamber. After the opening benediction, four protesters unfurled a banner that read “Free Palestine! Divest from Genocide!” All protesters in the main council chamber chanted “Free, free Palestine!” until they were escorted out of the building by a large number of Baltimore cops. 

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Even the Baltimore Sun, a notoriously pro-police publication, commented that the police presence at the meeting was far larger than normal. Everywhere those in solidarity with Palestine go in Baltimore, they are met with a disproportionate police presence that only serves to repress the struggle. 

Simultaneous with the banner drop, 30 to 40 protesters in the overflow room began chanting pro-Palestine slogans and demands. This continued for several minutes until they too were escorted out of the City Hall building that is paid for with their tax dollars – much like the tax money going to the militarized Baltimore Police and the Israeli military. 

In the wake of the disruption, Zionist hack Yitzy Shleifer proposed a resolution to condemn Hamas and express support for Israel. The resolution was cosponsored by four other council members. Nonetheless, it failed to reach the 12-vote threshold required to pass. Nine voted for the resolution and four abstained. 

Schleifer’s resolution is tantamount to genocide denial, as it made no mention of the over 15,000 innocent Palestinians who Israel has slaughtered. Shame on him. 

The protesters remained outside City Hall for over an hour after the disruption, where they continued to chant and hold picket signs. Baltimore will not let the political establishment rest until they do the right thing on Palestine. 

Ceasefire now! Divest now! Free Palestine now!

Protest continued after Baltimore Police drove activists out of City Hall. SLL photo: Sharon Black

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