Eugene Rises for Palestine

Yesterday, on Oct. 21, over 200 Eugenians took to the street to stand in solidarity with Palestine. The rally began at 2:00 p.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Eugene. Attendees listened to speakers before taking to the streets to march for a Free Palestine.

The “Free Palestine March and Rally” begins at the Federal Courthouse in Eugene on Oct. 21, 2023. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

On the courthouse steps, event organizers thanked the crowd for showing up as a community to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. They informed the audience that the day’s speakers requested not to be filmed or recorded for safety in light of the backlash that’s been observed throughout the country for speaking-out against the violence.

Nonetheless, the speakers boldly urged the crowd to continue demanding an end to imperialism, capitalism, and genocide. 

One speaker offered poems about sorrow, martyrs, determination, resiliency, hope, and love, reminding the crowd to celebrate life. Their second piece was “kind of a poem, kind of speech,” the speaker said.

“I dig a bed of sorrow,
into an endless stream of news stories,
I look for the truth.
I take in. I listen critically.

My grandmother said at the start of this,
“Don’t believe them, mi hija,
the media is out of control.
Just find the truth,
Believe in the truth.”

I breathe it through my belly,
I let it break my heart,
I let it raise my spirits,
I let myself be brave,” they began.

The speaker went on to remind the crowd that not too long ago, there was “unrest within our cities,” “wildfires and rubber bullets broke the wind” and they remembered “lying in the sick bed of news.” As they began intentionally to recall the truth, “a pattern of genocide” emerged. Something they said was easy for “some folks to block out.” 

Many brought handmade signs to the rally and march in support of Palestine in Eugene on October 21, 2023. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

They reminded the crowd that they are the “opposition,” and “response to injustice.”

“The uproar,
the wild iris blooming in a boot print,
determined to survive together.

We are the masses that turn the clocks of history forward,
that paint the hills with wild flowers,
we scream the truth so that all of history
shakes down the necks and backs
of the willful oblivious.

Palestinian Liberation can no longer wait
at the barbed wire gates of diplomacy,
in the trenches of night,
at the edge of a burning city.”

Another speaker addressed the misconceptions regarding the claim that to stand for a Free Palestine is anti-semitic. “This couldn’t be further from the truth,” they said. Like most religions, not all followers of the Jewish faith are Zionists. Some believe that Zionism is an ideology that attempts “to reinforce itself by erasing history, creating false narratives, and through the spilling of blood.”  

That speaker went on to offer information about the mission of Christian Zionists who believe that “the Holy Land must be occupied by Jews in order to pave the way for the second coming of Jesus Chrsit.” Thereby offering up both “Jews and Arabs” as “cannon fodder in the wars of the end times.” In the end, those who do not die in the wars must convert to Christianity in order “to be saved.” 

“That doesn’t sound like a love for the Jewish people to me,” they said. They went on further to question the aid that the United States offers to Israel every year, questioning “why does the US and the West so fervently support the zionists?”  

They said the answer was rooted in the goals of Christian Zionists which is total control and domination over the kingdom of heaven on Earth. Those benefiting from this genocide are large companies who manufacture weapons, surveillance, and defense technology.

As a person of Jewish faith, the speaker said “the true enemy was not their fellow worker or neighbor, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, but was instead the capitalists and the bourgeoisie who sought to extract everything they could from their land, their bodies, and their labor.”

“My heart lies with those who said never again, and when they said never again for us and for anyone else, ever. So we must stand in solidarity with those in Palestine and we must fight for their freedom, Free Palestine, Long Live Palestine.”

One of the last speakers echoed the sentiments later in the rally, just before the march began.

The “Free Palestine” begins to march from the Federal Courthouse on its way through Downtown Eugene on Oct. 21, 2023. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

“When we say Free Palestine, we mean no more siege of Gaza, we mean no more occupation, we mean Palestinian self-determination, we mean total sovereignty, we mean no more colonization,”  they said, rallying the crowd.

After nearly an hour of speeches, the crowd marched through the streets of Eugene, soon to encounter an armed counter-protester as previously reported.

The march carried on.

Mary Bell
Robert Scherle

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