Boston Coalition for Palestine tells ‘First Night’ ‘No celebration during genocide!’

“Free Palestine in 2024” at First Night on Boston Common, Dec.
31, 2023.

Boston

Thousands of people answered the call of the Boston Coalition for Palestine

(BCFP) on New Year’s Eve, 2023. They crashed the City’s Amazon-underwritten “First Night” party downtown and fulfilled their own demand that there be “No celebration while a genocide is happening!”

Despite a massive police presence — whipped up by breathless on-scene TV newscasters reporting the Anti-Defamation League’s warnings of “extremist and terrorist” threats — BCFP security details formed up at police barricades in front of the John F. Kennedy Federal Building adjacent to City Hall Plaza. Palestinian resistance songs soon reverberated off the plaza’s buildings, with gathering protesters moving to its rhythms, competing with the sponsors’ staged red, white and blue-themed program.

Rally emcees and lead chanters Yafa Suleiman of BCFP, Layan Alnajjar of Connecticut’s We Will Return Palestine and Zaid Almadi of Braintree for a Free Palestine fired up the crowd. Ahmad Kawash of the Palestinian House of New England opened the rally with a song for Gaza’s martyrs.

Speakers representing Indigenous nations; Jewish and Muslim clergy; union, student, antiwar and socialist constituent organizations in one voice decried the ruling class’s “party-as-usual” denial of 2023’s televised mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians and resistance fighters alike by the Israeli Occupation Forces. All elevated BCFP’s central demand to “End all U.S aid to Israel,” the financial and political source of the Zionist regime’s settler-colonial land theft and weapons of mass destruction.

When protesters took the streets at the corporate sponsors’ well-publicized “invitation to the public to walk in the parade” behind the bands and performers, they were immediately blocked by an armed bike patrol and surrounded by local, state and national repressive forces, with drones in the sky and snipers on the roof. 

The chanting, with fists raised, by the mass number of courageous people from Greater Boston’s multinational communities, overcame the state’s initial response. The BCFP “Free Palestine” banner and women of a dance collective, dressed in red and holding child-sized shrouds, led the militant marchers undaunted into the parade route, with thousands of spectators cheering and raising fists in solidarity. Many who had come as a family outing joined what became indisputably the annual First Night’s largest marching contingent ever.

It was chilling and terrifyingly relevant when, at 7 p.m., the star-spangled “rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” fireworks momentarily drowned out a coalition speaker at the closing rally on Boston Common. But the spirited crowd quickly fired up all available megaphones and overcame the warlike interruption with an ever-louder chant of “There is only one solution, the Intifada Revolution!”

See BCFP’s Dec. 29 press release for further information and full listing of the coalition’s over 35 constituent organizations at workers.org/2023/12/75914.

Workers World Party-Boston’s banner in solidarity with the
Palestinian resistance, Boston Common, Dec. 31, 2023.

Steve Gillis

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Steve Gillis

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