For the second Saturday in a row, a few hundred people gathered in Mill Creek Park to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and call for liberation, the day after a cease-fire went into effect between Israel and Hamas.
As around 250 people marched through the Country Club Plaza, they chanted, “Free, free Palestine,” “no justice, no peace,” and “occupation no more.”
Amar Sayyed, one of the organizers, spoke to the crowd. He said his grandparents were forced out of their homes and that he shouldn’t have to worry if he’ll be let in when he wants to visit his homeland.
“A cease-fire doesn’t mean it’s an end,” said Sayyed, 19. “There’s no time for celebration. We are still getting ethnically-cleansed, attacked and killed for no reason. We are still suffering and still living under the occupation.”
He told The Star he got involved in organizing during last week’s rally.
“We’re not going to stop fighting,” Sayyed said. “And we’re gonna continue doing everything we can to end the occupation.”
Michael Wolfe, with Sunrise Movement KC, told the crowd that he grew up Jewish, but hasn’t felt comfortable in his community for a long time. He questioned why his Jewish identity is defined by oppression and not liberation. As a child in Sunday school, he said, they role-played being in a concentration camp.
He criticized members of the Jewish community who are calling out anti-Semitism but not also talking about the occupation, bombings and children who have been killed.
“I do see a world in which we’re all free together,” Wolfe said, adding that a Jewish Voice for Peace chapter was launching in Kansas City. “We’re going to organize and we’re going to win liberation for all.”
As a light drizzle briefly sprinkled over the group, Amreen Hasan, 21, said she heard about the event on social media.
“I think if you stay quiet, you don’t do anything to try and raise awareness about how other people are oppressed, then you’re going to look back and you’re going to be siding with the oppressor,” Hasan said.
She was there with fellow University of Missouri-Kansas City medical program students Kat Schneider, 20, and Amber Gillani, 19.
Hasan said if it wasn’t for social media, people wouldn’t care. She said there have been protests in the past in Kansas City, but that this was the first time she saw so many people show up and speak out.
Gillani said she thinks it’s important to educate people and make them aware of the Muslim population in Kansas City.
“Just raising awareness about it is really important and just making people realize you need to stand up for any injustice that happens,” said Gillani, who is Pakistani. “You don’t need to be Palestinian to support this movement. You just have to be human.”
On Tuesday, around 75 people gathered for a vigil to honor those killed in Gaza during the latest round of violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Last week, a few hundred people gathered in Mill Creek Park and marched around the Country Club Plaza as rallies across the country occurred, including in Los Angeles and Boston. That day marked Al Nakba — when nearly 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948.
A cease-fire took effect Friday after an 11-day campaign that left more than 250 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The fighting erupted on May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound, built on a site holy to Muslims and Jews, and threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.
Hamas and other militant groups fired over 4,000 rockets into Israel throughout the fighting, launching the projectiles from civilian areas at Israeli cities. Dozens of projectiles flew as far north as Tel Aviv, the country’s bustling commercial and cultural capital.
Israel, meanwhile, carried out hundreds of airstrikes targeting what it said was Hamas’ military infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network.
At least 230 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children and 39 women, with 1,710 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, were killed.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.