Activists hold rally in Dallas

By Jacob Vaughn
Copy Editor/Fact Checker

Photo by Jacob Vaughn | Leslie Harris, of the North Texas Light Brigade, coordinates and inspects the #FreeAhed LED sign during a rally for Ahed Tammy Jan. 30.

A demonstration to free Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian activist, took place outside of WFAA studios Jan. 30 in Victory Park for an International Day of Action. Tamimi faces a possible 10-year prison sentence for slapping an Israeli soldier and forcing occupation forces off her family’s land Dec. 15.

The incident, which was preceded by an Israeli soldier shooting Tamimi’s 14-year-old cousin in the head with a rubber coated bullet, was filmed and went viral on social media, according to the Middle East Monitor.

Masoud Khayyat, a coordinator for the Dallas Palestine Coalition, said: “Today we are standing, supporting in solidarity with Ahed Tamimi, this brave, young, beautiful young woman.” Khayyat said he remembers seeing Tamimi standing up to Israeli soldiers trying to arrest her mother when she was 6 or 7 years old.

Khayyat said he believes Tamimi’s ordeal has gained a lot of international attention. He hopes this attention will pressure the Israeli government to release not only her, but also hundreds of minors who are in Israeli prisons today.

In an email to The Courier, Jennifer Laprade, a Brookhaven College government professor, said, “Of course, the United States does not have direct control over what happens in justice systems of other countries, but it is possible that United States leaders, such as President [Donald] Trump or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, can put pressure on Israeli leaders to take a certain action in her case.”

Photo by Jacob Vaughn | Security officers converse with Dallas Department Police officers after demonstrators move away from WFAA studios in Victory Park.

The general consensus at the demonstration was the sentence was too harsh. Dehli Ekambo, a coordinator for the Dallas Palestine Coalition, said, “I saw the video of what she was apparently accused of and it’s not a 10-year sentence.” She added, “These are people who do not have [fire arms] and who are doing what they can to resist an unlawful occupation.”

The demonstration was organized by the Dallas Palestine Coalition, a group of different organizations in Dallas-Fort Worth that stand with the human and national rights of the Palestinian people, according to its Facebook page.

The group members look to garner more attention from the media on Tamimi’s situation because of their shared belief that most news outlets are deliberately ignoring the subject. Khayyat said: “… American media is shifting slowly toward what I call the American value of liberty, justice and freedom. But, historically, unfortunately, most of the media was not always in favor of covering the Palestinian coast in an objective way.”

The location of the demonstration was changed from WFAA studios on Commerce Street to their studios at Victory Park 30 minutes before the start time. However, those who showed up brought banners, flyers and LED signs that read “#FreeAhed.”

While attendees set up for their demonstration outside of WFAA studios in Victory Park, Dallas Police Department officers surrounded the area. Two security officers for the American Airlines Center approached the group and asked what their purpose for being there was. After hearing about the protesters’ cause, the security officers notified the group that they were on private property and they would have to move.

The security officers waved down Dallas police to ensure everyone would move to the sidewalk. Vincent Simon, a freelance journalist, took photos of the interaction between the security officers and the demonstrators. After Simon was told he was not allowed to take their picture, the officers captured their own images of Simon with their cellphone cameras.

As the protest wound down, the activists discussed what they can do to improve the next demonstration. Asad Shalami, an organizer of the demonstration, said the group plans to hold similar events every two weeks in accordance with their cause.

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