RICHMOND, VA , Jan. 2 — More than 60 people turned out today in Virginia’s capital city to protest the ongoing Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip. The spirited protest, held during rush hour in front of Richmond City Hall, was initiated by longtime Richmond African-American activist Umar Kenyatta and sponsored by the newly formed Coalition of Conscientious Organizations. The majority of the protesters were from the area’s Islamic, Arab-American, and African-American communities. Supporting organizations included Richmond Food Not Bombs, RVA4Peace, Richmond Code Pink, the Gabriel House, and the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.
Chants of “1-2-3-4, Stop Funding Israel’s War!” and “Free, Free Palestine!” rang out as passing drivers honked their horns in support. Many people carried Palestinian flags, or printed signs provided by the Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN) that read “Self-determination for the Palestinian and Lebanese People — Stop U.S. Funding for Israel!” Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Mr. Kenyatta; local Palestinian-American spokesman Jameel Abed1; community activist Fatah Muhammad; retired Dr. Ali Hossaini; former Richmond City Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin; and Phil Wilayto, representing VAWN.
Other protests have taken place this week in the Virginia cities of Norfolk and Blacksburg, as well as in many major cities around the country.