Ten protesters were arrested at an action in support of Palestine that began outside the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday afternoon, February 10. The demonstrators face charges ranging from resisting arrest to assault, unreasonable noise, harassment, and obstructing governmental administration, according to a police report obtained by Hyperallergic. An additional individual received a court summons for using a “sound reproduction device” without a permit.
The protest began at around 1pm and gathered over 300 people to decry what they described as institutional complicity with Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the suppression of pro-Palestine voices. Organized by the Palestinian liberation group Within Our Lifetime (WOL), the rally started in front of the museum’s main entrance on Eastern Parkway, where a crowd of keffiyeh-clad protesters carried banners and signs demanding a ceasefire and honoring the nearly 28,000 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since Hamas’s attack on October 7.
The demonstration occurred just hours before a separate action in which over 500 protesters staged a sit-in at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and the public release of a separate open letter from a coalition of local museum and cultural workers.
The Brooklyn Museum has not responded to Hyperallergic‘s requests for comment.
Chants of “Israel bombs, USA pays; how many kids did you kill today?” echoed throughout the museum’s plaza, where dozens of New York City Police Department officers also congregated. Footage posted to social media showed an altercation between officers and demonstrators that ended with police pinning an individual down on the sidewalk in front of the museum. Another video showed officers detaining an individual with zipties as other police forcefully escort another demonstrator across the street. In the background, protesters from the rally can be heard shouting “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
“These museums represent colonialism. They represent the issue that we’re facing in Palestine today,” WOL founder Nerdeen Kiswani told Hyperallergic, pointing to the museum’s current corporate partnerships that “service the [Israeli] occupation,” such as the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY). The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has called out the bank’s investments in Israeli military weapons contractor Elbit Systems and donations to the Israeli military through the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Donor Advised Fund.
Kiswani pointed out that artists showing at the Brooklyn Museum, and its own staff, have vocalized their support of Palestinian liberation and called for a ceasefire. On January 19, artist Suneil Sanzgiri, whose work is currently on view at the institution, withdrew their work from the Berlinale film festival in solidarity with an international boycott of German institutions over the country’s suppression of criticism of Israel’s government. Kiswani also referenced a November missive written by Brooklyn Museum workers that has since received over 400 signatures including those of members, artists, visitors, and allies.
The action gathered support from multiple communities including healthcare workers, teachers, and artists. Aliima Zimmer, a New Jersey history teacher, told Hyperallergic that this action was her 23rd rally in support of Palestine since October 2023. To show solidarity, she had made ceramic earrings resembling watermelon slices — a popular symbol for the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Another pro-Palestine demonstration organized by the local collective For Our Liberation (FOL) was held at the museum last week. Video footage posted to social media afterward shows museum security officers forcefully throwing two activists distributing flyers out of the building while escorting other demonstrators outside.
The crowd departed the museum at approximately 3pm, evolving into a march that weaved its way through Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood and by 4pm had relocated to the entrance of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, where it ultimately dispersed around 5pm, according to Telegram updates from WOL organizers.