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Pro-Palestine protesters rally outside Grand Prix, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza

Updated: May 17

By Jackie Rae

Pro-Palestine protesters capitalized on the large crowds attending the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday to amplify their message calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Organizers of the “Stop the World for Gaza” rally met at Lincoln Park, where Long Beach Police Department officers advised protesters that they were permitted to walk on sidewalks but could not block traffic. “We are here to support your First Amendment right,” one officer told the crowd of about 100 people.

As demonstrators began walking down Ocean Boulevard, the police presence took on a warning undertone. 

An LBPD cruiser blocked the intersection and an officer announced over a loudspeaker, “Criminal activity and acts of violence will not be tolerated.”

Seeming to suggest police wanted the rally to remain in the park, the officer continued, “Anyone committing a crime, including blocking the road, will be arrested. You are free to express your First Amendment right in Lincoln Park.”

Nine police cars and a police van occupied the turning lane at Ocean and Long Beach boulevards. More than a dozen officers with batons in hand watched protesters shouting “Free Palestine!” In response, demonstrators chanted, “LBPD, KKK, IOF, you’re all the same!” (IOF - Israel Occupying Force, is a reference to the national military of the State of Israel)

Those in attendance maintained peace and said they accomplished what they set out to do: draw attention to the ongoing issues in Gaza. “We have the Grand Prix going on here in Long Beach,” said rally organizer Anthony Bryson with SoCal Uprising. “Thousands upon thousands of people are here in Long Beach. This would be a wasted opportunity if we didn’t assemble and show visibility for issues that matter,” he said.

Bryson believes the United States is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to addressing humanitarian issues. “We should all be interested in life and quality of life,” he said.

Palestinian American and Long Beach resident Adel Hijzi said it is essential to raise awareness that Israel has not made any attempts to end its occupation of Gaza. “We just saw Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, announce that they have, I don’t know how many billions of dollars or shekels (Israeli dollars) that they’re going to allocate for settlement in Gaza,” he said.

Hijzi believes the settlement points to the lack of value Israel places on the people of Gaza. “The blood of the people haven’t even dried in the ground over there, so when you have that type of government that is in charge and doing that, you’re not going to be able to get any of those rights,” he said.

Israel and its allies have continued to argue that the country has a right to defend itself in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that started the war. But Israeli leaders have faced growing pressure to dial back their aggression and let more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The protesters in Long Beach on Saturday argued that the United States holds some responsibility for the loss of life in Gaza, chanting, “Biden, Biden, what do you say? How many kids did you kill today?” The protest remained peaceful, and organizers and participants said they are committed to raising awareness until Gaza is free.


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