Protesters Demand Brooklyn Museum “Take a Stand Against Genocide”

The guerrilla action involving twenty activists at the Brooklyn Museum yesterday, December 8, was merely a drop in the bucket compared to the turnout during today’s planned march from the institution on Eastern Parkways to across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan. The Saturday afternoon demonstration, co-organized by Within Our Lifetime Palestine (WOL Palestine) and Decolonize This Place (DTP) to coincide with the 36th anniversary of the first Intifada, drew hundreds of protesters of all ages and demographics to the museum as the starting point of a procession across the Brooklyn Bridge ending at City Hall.

Equipped with keffiyehs, flags, literature, and unique handmade signs, pro-Palestine advocates showcased their solidarity with Palestinians as well as their outrage at the United States for singlehandedly blocking the proposed United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Protesters also reiterated WOL Palestine’s call for the Brooklyn Museum to “take a stand against genocide, and sever all ties to and divest from institutions and corporations complicit,” including its corporate partner, Bank of New York Mellon, which has a $13 billion investment in the Israeli weapons contractor Elbit systems and houses the Friends of Israel Defense Force Donor Advised Fund.

The gathering flooded the Brooklyn Museum’s exterior for over an hour, spilling over the sidewalk and curbs and onto the street, eventually blocking all of Eastern Parkway as over a hundred members of the NYPD stood by. The march continued toward the Barclays Center, across the Brooklyn Bridge, and before finishing in Manhattan.

Some more signs for Palestine at the gathering (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

One demonstrator, Shawn, a 35-year-old local creative worker wielding a hand-painted sign that read “F-Slurs 4 Liberation” decorated with sliced watermelon motifs, told Hyperallergic that they joined the procession today to express their disagreement with the “pinkwashing of Israeli occupation” and find community with “people fighting for a better tomorrow.”

Some artists and activists, including Shawn, voiced their disapproval of “pinkwashing” the Israeli occupation of and military response in Palestine. (photo Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic)

“I think that the collectivization of artists and activists in this city is heartening, and really makes it feel like there’s something worth fighting for,” Shawn continued. They also noted Brooklyn Museum “has blood on its hands” beyond the relationship to Israel, speaking on the institution’s impact on the surrounding real estate and community.

Writer Mai Mizuno, 27, who was in attendance with her camera-shy Doberman, said that she had been protesting for years now and also noted her frustrations with museums “stealing and co-opting art and culture in the name of preservation without supporting their creators in real life when it matters.”

As the procession moved toward Barclays Center, writer Mai Mizuno and her shy Doberman took a quick rest on the outskirts of the crowd. (photo Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic)

“The role of artists has to make sense in this day and age,” Mizuno continued. “We often support artists and examine their work and activism years and years later, and yet we don’t see artists of today who are speaking up for issues like this as valid or as deserving of attention. Art is ever live, and it’s beautiful to see artists and creative workers standing up for Palestinians.”

Protesters stream over the bridge (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

In reply to Hyperallergic’s request for comment the Brooklyn Museum said, “Our outdoor plaza remains a popular meeting place for public demonstrations and gatherings, and we support any group’s right to peacefully assemble.”

A separate activist group, Israelis For Peace, also headed to the Brooklyn Museum at 3pm, which was after the first group had already marched towards Manhattan, to host a vigil to mourn those who were killed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. The activists, who said they chose the museum as the site of their event randomly, also demanded a bilateral ceasefire, safe return of all hostages, unrestricted humanitarian aid to Gaza, and protection for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *