Protesters in New York City gathered on Friday, 24 March outside the Best Buy in Union Square to demand freedom for Palestinian prisoners and to urge shoppers to boycott HP products until the corporation ends its contracts with Israeli prisons, checkpoints and other repressive mechanisms.
The protest, organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, focused on the hunger strikes of Palestinian prisoners demanding their release from imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. Palestinian prisoners including Raafat Shalash and Mahmoud Saada are currently refusing food to demand their freedom, while thousands of prisoners will participate in a collective hunger strike scheduled to begin on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Out of nearly 7,000 Palestinian prisoners, around 600 are held in administrative detention; among other issues highlighted by the hunger strikers, Palestinian prisoners are also demanding an end to constant denials of family visits.
Participants also distributed materials to passers-by and Best Buy shoppers, urging them to boycott Hewlett-Packard products. HP corporations provide “much of the technology infrastructure that Israel uses to maintain its system of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people,” notes the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee. HP is the primary contractor for the Israeli biometric access control system in its military checkpoints and apartheid wall; it provides the database system for the Israel Prison Service that manages the imprisonment of Palestinians. HP even provides technology used by the Israeli navy to impose the siege on Gaza and fire upon, destroy boats and seize Gaza fishermen.
Following the prisoner solidarity protest, Samidoun activists marched together to join hundreds in Union Square in protest of the murder of Timothy Caughman, a Black New Yorker stabbed to death by a white supremacist from Baltimore who admitted to traveling to the city specifically to kill a Black man, as “New York is the media capital of the world.”
The protest denounced racism and white supremacy, highlighting ongoing attacks on the Black community, including police and other state repression and violence. Protesters marched to Herald Square, where they called for action against escalating racist repression against Black people as well as Muslims, Arabs and other oppressed communities.
Samidoun activists will be joining Palestinian and solidarity campaigners across the United States on Sunday, 26 March at the national protest in Washington, DC to support Palestine and protest AIPAC, the Israel lobby organization. Tickets are available from New York City and Pittsburgh on the ANSWER Coalition bus.