Today, November 6, approximately 500 affiliates and supporters of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) took to the Statue of Liberty to demand that President Joe Biden call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The protesters, including artist and activist Nan Goldin, writer and artist Molly Crabapple, actor Tavi Gevinson, and State Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani, unfurled dozens of banners emblazoned with phrases including “Ceasefire now” and “Never again for anyone” across the stone-stepped pedestal leading up to Lady Liberty and across the island’s ferryboat.
The sit-in, which JVP described as the largest in Liberty Island’s history, follows a weekend of citywide and national protests demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, including one of the largest pro-Palestine demonstrations in American history in Washington, DC, last Saturday.
The Gaza Health Ministry reported that over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October 7, when Hamas reportedly killed 1,400 Israeli civilians and took over 200 hostages. Israel has rejected the calls for a ceasefire, demanding the release of hostages and the destruction of Hamas above all else.
JVP affiliates and allies denounced the Israeli military’s indiscriminate airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and the strategic withholding of clean water, food, electricity, internet and cell service, and humanitarian aid to the occupied territory that has exacerbated the Palestinian death toll.
“As long as the people of Gaza are screaming, we need to yell louder, no matter who attempts to silence us,” said artist Nan Goldin in a statement shared with Hyperallergic.
According to the statement, rabbis led the protestors in song, chant, and prayer as the sit-in began at around 1pm EST. “The famous words of our Jewish ancestor Emma Lazarus etched into this very monument compel us to take action supporting the Palestinians of Gaza yearning to breathe free,” said Jay Saper of JVP.
The sit-in lasted nearly two hours until responding police officers threatened the protesters with federal crime charges. The activists, all clad in black t-shirts with “Not in our name” and “Jews say ceasefire now” printed across them in white text, marched away from Lady Liberty and to the police-escorted boat back to Manhattan, continuing to wave their banners and chant.
“The charges were too severe, so it was determined that none of us would stay,” artist and filmmaker Suneil Sanzgiri told Hyperallergic when describing his experience protesting onsite.
Hyperallergic has contacted New York City’s police department for further comment regarding the potential charges, though JVP confirmed that no arrests were made.