Chicago to Biden — ‘You are not welcome here as long as you enable genocide’ – Mondoweiss
On Thursday, 5,000 people gathered in the West Loop of Chicago to protest U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the city for a campaign fundraising event, over his ongoing refusal to support a ceasefire in Israel’s 34-day assault on the Gaza Strip.
The 3:00 p.m. rally was organized through the collaborative efforts of the Coalition for Justice in Palestine (CJP), made up of several organizations, including US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), American Muslims for Palestine, Students for Justice in Palestine-Chicago, Palestinian American Community Center, Palestinian American Council, and Al Nahda.
The precise location of the rally was unknown until just hours before it was set to begin, as the exact venue for Biden’s event was uncertain. Around 1:00 p.m., upon discovering Biden’s plans to attend a fundraiser at 401 N Armour Street, the organizers announced the rally’s location, giving protesters just two hours to plan accordingly, which made the large turnout even more impressive.
Malak K, a prominent member in the leadership of the American Muslims for Palestine Chicago Chapter, underscored the importance of protesting Biden’s visit to the city.
“We’re here out today because Chicago is not welcoming Biden. Biden is a war criminal and he is complicit in this genocide,” she told Mondoweiss, the strain from chanting evident in her voice. “Chicago has been out this past month, organizing three times a week. That’s not including the individual organizers that are doing direct action left and right. Chicago has been out and about! We’ve lost our voices, we’ve lost our sleep. We’ve been out protesting, direct actions, lobbying, to make sure that the U.S. is being held accountable for being complicit in this genocide. For being complicit in the ethnic cleansing. For funding and aiding Israel. Israel has blood on its hands, and so does America. Biden shame on you.”
One chant heard throughout the rally invoked that American voters will not be casting their vote for Biden, “Come November, We’ll Remember.”
Biden arrived at approximately 4:15 and immediately walked into the fundraiser, guarded from the public and had no interaction with the demonstrators. Demonstrators continued to scream his name, “Biden, Biden you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!”
As dusk fell and the sky turned crimson red, the rally continued until 7:00 p.m. Protestors shouted at the top of their lungs, in various chants, calling out Biden for his funding and aiding in war crimes against the Palestinian people.
“We’re here to say, Biden Biden, you can’t hide. We charge you with Genocide. We charge you with apartheid!”
Malak K. told Mondoweiss, “We say that he has blood on his hands, and we will continue to come out every single day until a ceasefire is called for and Palestine is free from the river to the sea.”
People from throughout the greater Chicago area showed up in the thousands. Over the last month, tens of thousands have gathered numerous times around Chicago to show solidarity with Palestine.
Muhammad Sankari, a leader of the USPCN, also made clear why Biden is not welcome in Chicago.
“Joe Biden thought he could come to Chicago, a city that has the largest Palestinian American community in it, a city that stands with Palestine. He thought he could come here with blood on his hands of our people, of the 10,000 people dead, that he could come here with no problem,” Sankari told Mondoweiss. “And we have 5,000 people in the street, shouting him down. Telling him that you are not welcome in our city as long as you are enabling the genocide and the killing of our people.”
Numerous demonstrators reported degrading interactions with Chicago Police. Police units surrounded parts of the area before the rally and blocked off various parts as demonstrators began to pour in. As demonstrators filled up the street, cops stood in a single-file line to maintain a perimeter and keep demonstrators from the building.
Several cops were seen laughing as students chanted. Police also refused to move back and allow students more space, as the organizers repeatedly asked for the space to allow Muslim members to pray. An organizer expressed this was one of the worst experiences with cops she has experienced in recent demonstrations.
As hostility grew, Mahmoud A., CJP organizer and a long-standing leader in SJP-Chicago, announced that the police force was refusing to move back and that they made the protesters aware of the stance they had chosen. Soon the demonstrators started a new chant, “Move cops get out the way. We know you’re Israeli trained!”
The night ended with protesters expressing their anger toward American political leadership, as well as law enforcement, for their historical brutality and apathy towards people. The organizers conclude by reminding us that they will continue to take to the streets in solidarity efforts and social justice activism.
Khadija Quadri Al Jilani
Khadija Quadri Al Jilani is a writer, photographer, and graduate student in sociology.
At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever.
Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses.