Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested Near Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

On Wednesday night, a group of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the News Corp building at 47th and 6th streets, near the Rockefeller Center, where the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony was taking place. The protesters were chanting slogans such as “Free Palestine” and “End the occupation” and holding signs that read “Boycott Israel” and “Stop US aid to Israel”.

The protest was organized by the New York chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, a grassroots organization that advocates for the rights of Palestinians and opposes the Israeli occupation of their lands. The group said they wanted to draw attention to the ongoing human rights violations and atrocities committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, especially in light of the recent escalation of violence in the region.

The protesters also expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike in Israeli jails, demanding an end to the administrative detention policy that allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge or trial indefinitely. The group said they were inspired by the example of Khader Adnan, a prominent Palestinian activist who ended his 56-day hunger strike on Tuesday after reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities to release him in February.

Rockefeller Center Tree

How did the police react?

The police presence was heavy around the Rockefeller Center, as thousands of people gathered to watch the lighting of the 79-foot-tall Norway spruce, which was adorned with 50,000 LED lights and a Swarovski crystal star. The event was broadcast live on NBC and featured performances by Kelly Clarkson, Pentatonix, Gwen Stefani, and others.

The police tried to keep the protesters away from the tree lighting area, and at one point, they clashed with some of the demonstrators who tried to break through the metal barriers. The police used pepper spray and batons to disperse the crowd, and arrested five people on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration.

The protesters accused the police of using excessive force and violating their right to free speech and assembly. They also said they were subjected to racial profiling and harassment by some of the officers, who allegedly made derogatory remarks about their ethnicity and religion. The group said they will file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct.

What was the reaction of the public?

The protest and the police response drew mixed reactions from the public, who witnessed the scene near the Rockefeller Center. Some people expressed their support for the protesters and their cause, saying they agreed with their message and admired their courage. They said they were appalled by the police brutality and the injustice faced by the Palestinians.

Others, however, criticized the protesters for disrupting the festive event and creating chaos and tension in the city. They said they disagreed with their views and accused them of being anti-Semitic and anti-American. They said they were annoyed by the noise and the traffic caused by the protest, and wished they would leave the area and let people enjoy the holiday season.

Some people said they were indifferent or unaware of the protest and the issues behind it. They said they were focused on the tree lighting ceremony and the entertainment, and did not pay much attention to the political situation in the Middle East. They said they were not interested or informed enough to have an opinion on the matter.

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