On the edge of Liberty Street, local supporters of Palestine literally drew resistance early Saturday afternoon as dozens of the activists took turns painting a giant street mural on Valencia Street that depicted symbols of resistance and martyrdom. Hours later, they joined hundreds more in a march to Dolores Park.
The “All Out for Palestine” rally commenced at 2 p.m. with hundreds of people of all generations and ethnicities chanting, “Palestine will be free,” and “end the occupation now” to drums and tambourines. Condemnations against Israel and taunts aimed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also echoed through the streets, “Netanyahu, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”
The march circled around and ended up on Mission Street, rousing the attention of bar customers and shop owners. Protesters in cars leaned on their horns as they drove by, with some passengers waving the black, red, white, and green Palestinian flag out the car window.
The sheer mass of people enlivened the spirits of Mona Leena Michael, the owner of the Oakland pop-up Palestinian bakery The Mana’eesh Lady. “There’s never been this many people who’ve shown up. I actually feel like there actually could be a change.”
Salah Alseeidei, an Oakland resident of Yemeni descent, brought his 10-year-old son, Adham, and his 5-year-old grandson, Naim. “We’re here because Israel is hurting innocent people, attacking people, and taking our land, and our holy mosque, Al-Aqsa.”
The crowd streamed along Mission, then snaked along 24th Street back toward Valencia. Participants tossed flower petals so “our Creator sees our prayer” and chanted “God is the greatest” in Arabic. Denizens of the Mission were spotted among the throngs, too — present were members of the Latino Task Force, and the sisters of Sean Monterrosa, a Mission native who was shot and killed by Vallejo police last summer.
The march reached Dolores Park at about 4:30 p.m., where organizers from the Palestinian Youth Movement, United States Palestine Coalition Network, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Jewish Voice for Peace, Black Alliance Peace, and others spoke. Activists perched on trash cans and traffic lights to wave flags and shout chants, drawing looks from park denizens enjoying late afternoon picnics.
Speeches condemned Zionism, President Biden’s celebration of Eid, and the United States’s $3.8 billion in annual military aid to Israel. Signs spanned from severe criticism of Israel (“Free Palestine from terrorists”) to supportive of Palestine (“#solidarity”) to mocking (“Zionists can’t parallel park.”)
“They’re killing us — kids under 12 years old. Keep an eye out. Be safe,” said Monadel Herzallah, a member of United States Palestine Coalition Network, who has been organizing for Palestine’s freedom for decades. “This must be stopped. When Gaza is under attack … ”
“We fight back,” the crowd thundered.
Violet, an organizer with the Palestine Youth Movement, shouted on the bullhorn, facing the activists at Dolores Park, that the actions were far from over. A planned protest in front of the Israeli consulate on Montgomery Street is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We need you to keep showing up,” she said.
The local protest arose in response to increased conflict in Israel and Palestine that has escalated quickly and led to the worst violence in years, killing at least 145 people in Gaza and 12 people in Israel. On Saturday, another Israeli air strike killed at least 10 Palestinians in a refugee camp and destroyed a building in Gaza City that housed media outlets such as the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
“Seeing all the people here believe in a foreign country and supporting us, that was so beautiful,” said Hamdi, a Redwood City resident and Palestinian, who joined his his two sisters and “about 50 others” to paint a mural on Valencia Street earlier in the day.
Chris Gazaleh, a native San Franciscan artist and a Palestinian, sketched out the circular mural about 20-feet in diameter in front of Xanath Ice Cream on 951 Valencia St.
The art featured numerous symbols related to Palestine, including a red poppy, which represents the “blood of Palestinian martyrs” and is a native flower, protesters explained; women wearing keffiyeh scarves, which are associated with the Palestinian resistance; the Palestinian flag, and the words “we will return,” in Arabic and in English.
During the hour or so to it took to complete, organizers passed out dozens of Palestinian flags and then Hamdi, 19, and the others left to join the hundreds of other protesters.