By Lindsey Toomer
Posted: January 18, 2024
A group of at least 50 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the Colorado Capitol in Denver on Jan. 11, to send a message to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis during his State of the State address.
Organized by the Denver Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Colorado Palestine Coalition, speakers at the rally called for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and criticized Polis for his support of Israel. Many protesters said the governor should prioritize local housing, health care and climate solutions in Colorado as opposed to funding the conflict, such as through trade and other forms of support.
“We still don’t have accountability for Israel’s crimes and Gov. Polis has not moved an inch on his unwavering support for Israel throughout this genocide,” organizer Bruno Tapia García said. Referring to Polis’ capacity to influence President Joe Biden, they said, “It’s unacceptable for a so-called progressive, a so-called champion of the people, to be in there not calling for an immediate ceasefire, not using his position to pressure ‘genocide Joe’ into ending U.S. aid to Israel.”
New data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health shows that more than 23,000 people in Gaza have been killed since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas militants, who killed over 1,200 people and took more than 200 people hostage.
A concern expressed by multiple protesters is the long-term climate effects of ongoing military action in Gaza. Speakers at the protest said Polis — who campaigned on being a climate champion — has approved the most fossil fuel drilling permits of any governor in Colorado history. Newsline was unable to independently verify this claim by the time of publication.
“War is disastrous for both basic human rights and our global climate,” climate activist Caitt Maeve said at the rally. “The planet-warming emissions generated in the first two months of the war in Gaza were greater than the annual carbon footprint of dozens of countries combined.”
The source of some of the largest emissions in the war reportedly are aircraft and other military vehicles.
Protesters also noted that Colorado hosted the Jewish National Fund-USA’s Global Conference for Israel at the end of November, where Polis — Colorado’s first Jewish governor — delivered opening remarks amid protests. Jewish National Fund-USA is a nonprofit dedicated to the Zionist movement.
Abdullah Elagho, who is from Gaza, said he’s ashamed to be living in the U.S. and Colorado watching what’s happening to his family on the other side of the world.
“I am ashamed because my government, my representatives, my legislators, are using my tax dollars to aid in committing atrocities against my relatives,” Elagho said. “You can’t be a progressive if you don’t support Palestine, it’s that simple.”
Renée Chacon, an Indigenous and environmental activist who serves on the Commerce City Council, said she spoke at the rally as a concerned mother continuously watching the death toll rise in Gaza. She said the atrocities in Gaza go beyond politics and are more about knowing right from wrong.
“I speak on behalf of myself and my children so I can tell them at least I said something,” Chacon said. “I will fight for the water because it’s alive. I will fight for my land because it’s alive. And I will fight for Palestine and all the people there, because they’re alive.”
While the rally did not interrupt the State of the State address, attendees inside the building could hear as protestors chanted while marching around the Capitol building. Another rally focused on urging Polis to take more urgent action to fight climate change happened on the opposite side of the Capitol, and the pro-Palestinian protesters briefly stopped their march to show their support at the climate rally.
Pro-Palestinian protestors briefly interupted the first day of the Colorado Legislature’s 2024 legislative session on Jan. 8, with Colorado State Police removing multiple people from the House gallery. The last day of a special legislative session in November also saw attendance from a large number of protesters in support of Palestinians.
Polis’ team did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the protest.
Lindsay Toomer is a Reporter with Colorado Newsline. This
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