Demonstrators gathered along Boulevard of the Arts in downtown Sarasota on February 7.

On February 7, as the sun set over the nearby Marina, protestors gathered outside the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida, where the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra would perform that evening.

Roughly 20 people organized by Answer Suncoast, Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) gathered to protest the concert, condemning the IPO for its cooperation with Israel’s Defense Forces and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They called for an end to US aid to Israel, an end to zionism and imperialism, and a free Palestine.

“As an American, I can’t just sit back and watch while my country provides crucial support for the atrocities committed by Israel. And I think it’s important to demonstrate because I believe that domestic pressure is what will eventually force the US to stop funding this slaughter— that’s what happened, eventually, with Indonesia and East Timor. So supporting Palestine, as loudly and publicly as we can, is our role in effecting that change as quickly as possible,” Willa Tinsley told Liberation News.

Protest artwork by PSL Cde. Ginna Montero.

The crowd gathered at one entrance to the Van Wezel, then marched along Tamiami Trail until they reached the other street entrance to the hall. The protestors made it impossible for those attending the concert to ignore their presence and message of justice for Palestine.

“It’s important to have solidarity with our comrades and subjugated populations globally. Not enough people realize the atrocities the US carries out abroad in defense of their role as the leading imperialist power. The US government has been key in supporting Israel’s attempt to eradicate the Palestinian people. It’s the least we can do to try and fight that,” said Travis Burkes.

Demonstrators chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

PSL members spoke about how US support for Israel is tied to capitalism and imperialism, the solidarity between the people of Palestine and the Movement for Black Lives in the US, and the growing power of the BDS movement. Flyers were distributed to cars and people passing with more information about the IPO, the occupation of Palestine, and US imperialism.