Arrests made as groups rally in Midtown for cease-fire, humanitarian aid for Gaza

WABC logo
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Over 100 arrested during ceasefire protests in Manhattan
EMBED <>More Videos

Marcus Solis reports from Midtown with the latest after Jewish and Muslim organizations united for a rally on the steps of the New York Public Library on Friday, calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- While the fighting rages on in the Middle East, peaceful protests took place in Manhattan, including one on Friday night that brought together groups from different faiths and organizations all calling for the same thing: a cease-fire in the conflict overseas.

The rally started around 5 p.m. on the steps of the New York Public Library and then spilled out onto 5th Avenue.

The demonstrators eventually hit the streets in the drenching rain. As they marched through Midtown, the crowd grew larger, snarling traffic before shutting it down.

They sat down in the middle of 3rd Avenue daring police to make arrests, which police eventually did.

Over 100 arrests were made for acts of civil disobedience as protesters sat down and blocked traffic. These arrests resulted in summonses to appear in court.

Their destination was the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Demonstrators have lashed out at politicians from all levels, and the media.

"We're out here because 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza are being bombed," said Sumaya Awad of the NYC Democratic Socialists for America.

This isn't one group, but more of a coalition with what they say is a pretty simple message: that the answer to the violence so far cannot be more violence.

"Unfortunately, our political leaders seem to keep failing to learn that lesson again and again, that war is not the answer," Cohan said.

To be clear, they insist this is not any kind of endorsement of the terror attack of 2 weeks ago. In fact, they completely denounce it.

"We believe in the sanctity of all life, and so we have condemned the civilians who were killed on October 7 in Hamas' horrific attack, and we condemn the 4,100 Palestinians who've been killed since then," Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani said.

The cause of peace, they say, is well worth going to jail for.

A pro-Palestinian demonstration took place earlier in the day in Manhattan, offering a similar message.

Jim Dolan is live in Midtown where demonstrators are calling for a cease fire.

Near City Hall, demonstrators prayed for peace and for an end to what they see as the occupation of Palestine.

RELATED | 2 American hostages held since Hamas attack on Israel released: IDF

Lucy Yang is live in the newroom with the breaking details.

"We are not murderers, we are not supporters of Hamas, Isis or any terrorist group, we do not support terrorism in any form or fashion," one demonstrator said.

Tom Negovan reports on a protest in Midtown calling for a cease-fire to the crisis in the Middle East.

They are not supporters of Hamas, but no one at the demonstration denounced them either. Some said that Palestinians have no one else to protect them.

"People have to be able to defend themselves. It doesn't mean that everything they do is accurate but people need to understand, what choice are they left with," Palestinian demonstrator Lamas Deek said.

The protestors there weren't thinking in weeks, but in years.

"We're talking about 75 years of settler colonialism, we're talking about 75 years of oppression, we're talking about bringing a cease-fire to the current situation, but we want to be very clear: a cease-fire does not bring peace to the people Gaza," Palestinian demonstrator Wasim Kanan said.

One demand the protesters made Friday was the end of U.S. financial and military support for Israel, on the same day President Joe Biden submitted a proposal to Congress that would increase that aid.

Many at the rally say that money is being used to oppress Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

"The genocide has not just been in Gaza, it's been incremental, phased on all levels of Palestinian society and all spaces where there are Palestinians without resolution," Deek said.

Another rally is planned for Saturday in Brooklyn.

----------

* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.