Portland actions back pro-Palestine store workers, disrupt tree lighting

Portland, Oregon

On one of the busiest food shopping days of the year, Nov. 22, Portland protesters rallied at New Seasons Market, demanding management stop harassing employees who openly support a free Palestine and an end to Israeli apartheid.

Protesters block parking lot entrances to New Seasons Market in support of workers, Portland, Oregon, Nov. 22, 2023. Credit: WW. Lyn Neeley

After demonstrators blocked both parking lot entrances for 30 minutes, the lot was empty. However, the workers’ supporters continued chanting and giving talks for two more hours. They spoke to customers about the issue and returned raised fists to supportive drivers who honked as they passed. No one objected to being prevented from entering the store’s lot.

One of the organizers, a former New Seasons worker, is currently the operations organizer for Portland Jobs with Justice — one of the groups that organized the rally. They told Workers World that one New Seasons manager pressured many employees into taking off their Palestine flag pins. They said in the past the company encouraged staff to wear Ukraine flag pins. They also could show support for Pride and Black Lives Matter.

The former New Seasons employee said the workers have yet to be disciplined, but many no longer feel comfortable wearing their pins and expressing their solidarity with Palestine.

Protest speakers represented unions and groups including Jewish Voice for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Workers World Party and Democratic Socialists of America. It was clear after the demonstration that the community supports workers’ rights to come out in support of Palestine.

Protest disrupts tree-lighting ceremony

Over 1,000 Palestine supporters held a militant demonstration during Portland’s tree lighting ceremony at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Nov. 24 — “Black Friday.” The booming crowd chanted for two hours as they took over the square between the city’s stage and the audience. When the stage sound system was turned up to the maximum, attempting to drown out the demonstration, protesters just got louder and more militant!

Pro-Palestine protest disrupts tree lighting in Portland, Oregon, Nov. 24, 2023. Credit: Lyn Neeley

When night fell, demonstrators turned on their phone flashes in their own Free Palestine lighting ceremony.

The only time the chanting stopped was when two Native speakers spoke to acknowledge that those present were gathered on Native land. As soon as they were through, the crowd raised their voices, fists and flags, calling out “Land Back Now!”

 

Lyn Neeley

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Lyn Neeley

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