The guerrilla action involving twenty activists at the Brooklyn Museum yesterday, December 8, was merely a drop in the bucket compared to the turnout during today’s planned march from the institution on Eastern Parkways to across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan. The Saturday afternoon demonstration, co-organized by Within Our Lifetime Palestine (WOL Palestine) and Decolonize This Place (DTP) to coincide with the 36th anniversary of the first Intifada, drew hundreds of protesters of all ages and demographics to the museum as the starting point of a procession across the Brooklyn Bridge ending at City Hall.

Equipped with keffiyehs, flags, literature, and unique handmade signs, pro-Palestine advocates showcased their solidarity with Palestinians as well as their outrage at the United States for singlehandedly blocking the proposed United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Protesters also reiterated WOL Palestine’s call for the Brooklyn Museum to “take a stand against genocide, and sever all ties to and divest from institutions and corporations complicit,” including its corporate partner, Bank of New York Mellon, which has a $13 billion investment in the Israeli weapons contractor Elbit systems and houses the Friends of Israel Defense Force Donor Advised Fund.

The gathering flooded the Brooklyn Museum’s exterior for over an hour, spilling over the sidewalk and curbs and onto the street, eventually blocking all of Eastern Parkway as over a hundred members of the NYPD stood by. The march continued toward the Barclays Center, across the Brooklyn Bridge, and before finishing in Manhattan.

Some more signs for Palestine at the gathering (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

One demonstrator, Shawn, a 35-year-old local creative worker wielding a hand-painted sign that read “F-Slurs 4 Liberation” decorated with sliced watermelon motifs, told Hyperallergic that they joined the procession today to express their disagreement with the “pinkwashing of Israeli occupation” and find community with “people fighting for a better tomorrow.”

Some artists and activists, including Shawn, voiced their disapproval of “pinkwashing” the Israeli occupation of and military response in Palestine. (photo Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic)

“I think that the collectivization of artists and activists in this city is heartening, and really makes it feel like there’s something worth fighting for,” Shawn continued. They also noted Brooklyn Museum “has blood on its hands” beyond the relationship to Israel, speaking on the institution’s impact on the surrounding real estate and community.

Writer Mai Mizuno, 27, who was in attendance with her camera-shy Doberman, said that she had been protesting for years now and also noted her frustrations with museums “stealing and co-opting art and culture in the name of preservation without supporting their creators in real life when it matters.”

As the procession moved toward Barclays Center, writer Mai Mizuno and her shy Doberman took a quick rest on the outskirts of the crowd. (photo Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic)

“The role of artists has to make sense in this day and age,” Mizuno continued. “We often support artists and examine their work and activism years and years later, and yet we don’t see artists of today who are speaking up for issues like this as valid or as deserving of attention. Art is ever live, and it’s beautiful to see artists and creative workers standing up for Palestinians.”

Protesters stream over the bridge (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

In reply to Hyperallergic’s request for comment the Brooklyn Museum said, “Our outdoor plaza remains a popular meeting place for public demonstrations and gatherings, and we support any group’s right to peacefully assemble.”

A separate activist group, Israelis For Peace, also headed to the Brooklyn Museum at 3pm, which was after the first group had already marched towards Manhattan, to host a vigil to mourn those who were killed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. The activists, who said they chose the museum as the site of their event as an accessible meeting point for many community members, also demanded a bilateral ceasefire, safe return of all hostages, unrestricted humanitarian aid to Gaza, and protection for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Over 100 attendees, including New York City comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, joined the late afternoon vigil at the museum plaza. One of the vigil’s organizers, filmmaker and second-generation Israeli anti-occupation activist Tamar Glezerman, said in a statement shared with Hyperallergic that “the discourse here in America has grown so binary and polarized that people’s genuine pain is perceived as a provocation, that empathy for more than one people has suddenly become betrayal.”

“When the pull of tribalism makes good people ignore or even deny war crimes on either side, when it seems the entire world is demanding people pick sides as if this was a bloodsport, and not real people — as if the wellbeing of both sides is not one and the same — in times like this, we must say, stronger than ever, NO MORE WAR,” Glezerman continued. “[We call for] immediate political negotiations, first for a lasting ceasefire and full hostage release, and then to eventually achieve what has become almost embarrassing to say — peace.”

Editor’s note 12/11/23 10:55am EST: This article has been updated with a comment from Tamar Glezerman.

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...