The following statement was issued by Boston Students for Justice in Palestine after some of its members were kicked out of a Bernie Sanders rally on October 3 for holding a sign that said “Will Ya #feeltheBern 4 Palestine?” The Sanders campaign has since said the activists should never have been kicked out of Boston rally.
On Saturday, October 3, members of Boston Students for Justice in Palestine attended the Bernie Sanders rally with a sign that read “Will Ya #feeltheBern 4 Palestine?”. We held our sign quietly and respectfully in the overflow area, and did not block any of the rally screenings or walkways. We received a warm welcome from surrounding Bernie supporters and rally participants, many of whom also carried signs.
Within minutes of arriving, we were approached by police and venue staff and told that the Bernie Sanders campaign team requested we take down our sign (see video). To our knowledge, no other individuals were asked to do the same. After we were told to take our sign down, we began filming our interaction with police and staff. We were immediately given a verbal trespass order and threatened with arrest.
We understand that in American politics, the mere mention of “Palestine” often stirs controversy, but polls show that a growing and increasingly diverse segment of the American population sympathizes with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality. This is especially true of young people like us. These numbers will only grow as more Americans become aware of Israeli human rights abuses and discriminatory policies and recognize that supporting Palestinian freedom, justice and equality is a progressive value.
We have discussed the incident with Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, who expressed regret about how we were treated and acknowledged that our sign was “appropriate” and “in the spirit of many other signs there.” We are eager to engage in a dialogue about inclusivity and the elevation of under-represented voices. Sanders speaks up for those hurt by low wages, gender inequality, school tuition, corporate power, and climate change. Recently, he released a broad policy platform to address systemic racism. We want him to also speak up for those hurt by US foreign policy and military aid: we want him to speak up on Palestine. We hope that Sanders and other presidential candidates will seriously consider our government’s role in Israel’s human rights abuses as they shape their foreign policy platform.