‘Queer as in free Palestine’: Anti-Israel activists block New York City Pride March

10 protesters arrested after breaking through barricades along the parade route, holding banners and splashing red paint on the street

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters block the parade route during the NYC Pride March, June 30, 2024, in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters block the parade route during the NYC Pride March, June 30, 2024, in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The New York City Pride March was temporarily held up on Sunday when a small group of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activists broke through the barricades and blocked traffic from passing for around 30 minutes, resulting in several arrests.

The protesters, numbering around a dozen, broke through the barriers on the sidelines of the LGBTQ pride parade as it wove its way through Greenwich Village on Sunday afternoon, and threw red paint, intended to symbolize blood, on vehicles driving along the route.

They then sat cross-legged in the middle of the road, holding banners proclaiming that there would be “no queer liberation without Palestinian liberation,” and “Palestine will be free.”

The demonstration lasted for around half an hour, during which the protesters led a series of call-and-response chants with onlookers. “Free, free, free Palestine,” they chanted.

In videos posted on social media, the group could be heard shouting “Over 40,000 dead!” about the war in Gaza, inflating by several thousand the unverified death toll presented by the Hamas-run health ministry. The terror group said Sunday that more than 37,800 people had been killed, although the number cannot be verified and does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, of whom Israel says it has killed at least 15,000.

The protest was dispersed after around 30 minutes by the New York Police Department, which dispatched a group of around 20 officers to the scene. Protesters were led away in zip-tie cuffs to cries of “shame! shame!” from supporters in the crowd. The NYPD later said 10 people had been arrested, seven of whom were issued criminal summonses.

The parade itself included both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel marchers, some of whom carried Israeli flags and pride flags with a Star of David imposed over the rainbow stripes.

No confrontations were reported between the two groups.

Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted pride parades earlier in June in Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia. Several groups participating in marches Sunday said they would seek to highlight the victims of the war in Gaza, spurring pushback from supporters of Israel.

A paradegoer carries a Pride flag with the Jewish Star of David symbol during the NYC Pride March on Sunday, June 30, 2024, in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

“It is certainly a more active presence this year in terms of protest at Pride events,” said Sandra Pérez, the executive director of NYC Pride. “But we were born out of a protest.”

The first pride march was held in New York City in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising, a riot that began with a police raid on a Manhattan gay bar.

Last week, ahead of NYC Pride, NBC reported that the Israeli Consulate of New York had decided to reduce its presence at Sunday’s event, due to safety concerns and in line with the scaled-back pride events in Israel, which reflected the country’s somber mood.

“This year, in light of the situation in Israel, we are slimming down our delegation to the parade,” consulate spokesman Itay Milner said at the time. “But our commitment to the cause of equality for all remains foremost and unchanged.”

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