In solidarity with Palestinian resistance, Massachusetts activists blockade weapons dealers

Shut Elbit Down protesters locked down at Elbit Systems’ Cambridge, Massachusetts, front door. Oct. 12, 2023.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

A determined group of pro-Palestine activists, organized word-of-mouth by the emergency Shut Elbit Down coalition, surprised the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police force and the corporate criminals it protects on Oct. 12. Arriving at the death-lab workplace in the early morning, they tagged the walls and locked down the doors outside the offices of the Israel-based weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.

The nondescript multi-story laboratory with no signage — nestled in a tree-canopied residential neighborhood between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — in a flash became a battlefield. Red paint, splattered on the sidewalk and walls to represent the blood of Gaza’s bombarded residents, spelled out the demand at the previously clandestine door: “Shut Elbit Down.” Three activists used bicycle chains to lock their necks to the doors as police, arrest wagons, fire trucks and ambulances scrambled to the scene, sirens blaring.

In a long-planned and tactically coordinated strike before sunrise the same day, activists with Demilitarize Western Mass blockaded the employee parking lot of L3Harris Technologies — a $17 billion weapons manufacturer in the leafy university town of Northampton which employs 50,000 worldwide. They used three boat trailers, a boat, their bodies and chains to cause a miles-long rural traffic jam, locking out that morning’s producers of death for profit for hours. 

Activists refuse to be intimidated

These courageous blockaders brought the war home in a climate of severe repression targeting the Palestinian-led, campus-based Students for Justice in Palestine and its allies. This repression is orchestrated by billionaire Zionists who hold power on university boards overseeing the world’s largest endowments. 

Following a rally of hundreds of defenders of the Palestinian resistance at Cambridge City Hall on Indigenous Peoples Day, Monday, Oct. 9, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and former Harvard President Lawrence Summers organized a propaganda storm. Summers and the media demanded resignations, suspensions, recantations and job losses for those who dared criticize the genocidal mass imprisonment and slaughter of Gaza’s people by the settler-colonial Israeli regime.

A CNN story on Oct. 11 headlined “Harvard student groups issued an anti-Israel statement. CEOs want them blacklisted,” reported in depth on an LED billboard truck circling Harvard Square with police protection. Displayed were pictures and names of mostly Palestinian students and their supporters under the words “Harvard’s greatest antisemites.” 

This illegal doxxing has caused multiple death threats and personal attacks by a myriad of Zionists, police agencies, university authorities, and current and prospective employers.

Blockaders laud resistance

The Shut Elbit Down press release, read aloud through a megaphone by locked-down antiwarriors, declared in part: “We are witnessing the most significant Palestinian resistance operation in 50 years. On October 7, Palestinians broke through the colonial border fence that holds 2 million people within the ‘open-air prison’ of the Gaza Strip and liberated their land, land which has been stolen since 1948. In response, Israel’s ‘War Minister’ ordered a ‘complete siege’ and carried out a barbaric bombardment of Gaza, murdering at least 1,078 Palestinians in the past five days and injuring at least 5,314 more.

“The weapons Israel is deploying to surveil, maim and mass murder Palestinians are supplied by the company that operates right here in our city. Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons dealer … supplies 85% of Israel’s drone fleet, along with land-based equipment, bullets, tear gas and internationally banned weapons [cluster and white phosphorus bombs]. Elbit weapons are being used to murder Palestinians right now. We will not let Elbit continue business as usual! . . .

“We will continue to take action to make it impossible for Elbit to operate in Cambridge until Elbit is gone. Shut Elbit Down!” (#ShutElbitDown on X)

Steve Gillis

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Steve Gillis

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