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Pro-Hamas Protesters Disrupt Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting; Hold “Swastika” Signs

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Edited by:  Fern Sidman

In an unexpected turn of events, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center in New York City was marred by clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and the NYPD on Wednesday, as was reported by the New York Post. Hundreds of demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags and expressing solidarity with Hamas terrorists in Gaza, gathered along Sixth Avenue, attempting to disrupt the iconic holiday tradition. The protest, which included chants deemed anti-Semitic and confrontations with law enforcement, added a tense layer to the festive atmosphere, the Post reported.

The boisterous protest, aimed at disrupting the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony, dissipated after approximately an hour. However, the demonstrators transitioned into a march through Manhattan toward Times Square, shouting the phrase “Shut it down,” the Post report said. The disruptive nature of the protest raised questions about the intersection of political activism and public events, with attendees expressing a range of emotions in response to the unexpected turn of events.
The incident prompts discussions on the delicate balance between the right to protest and the need to maintain order, particularly in spaces intended for shared celebration and joy.

The demonstration took a concerning turn as protesters chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan associated with visceral Jew hatred. The massive crowd, unable to reach the main Christmas tree, redirected their efforts to the tree outside the News Corp building, previously targeted by pro-Palestinian protesters on multiple occasions, the Post reported. The protesters, calling for the “end to genocide” in Gaza, clashed with NYPD officers, leading to confrontations and a chaotic scene.

The Post report also indicated that among the provocative displays, one rallier climbed on top of a pillar, while another carried a sign bearing a swastika, drawing comparisons between the Israel Defense Forces and German Nazis. NYPD officers continuously pushed back the crowds, facing resistance and verbal abuse from the protesters who referred to them as “Nazis,” the Post report said. The demonstrators attempted to knock down barricades set up by the police to maintain order.

Thousands of tourists, eager to witness the festive tradition, found themselves caught in the midst of the rambunctious demonstration. The Post report said that frustration was palpable as protesters disrupted the holiday atmosphere, leading to jeers from onlookers. While some expressed annoyance and embarrassment, others remained resolute in their determination to enjoy the Christmas tree lighting despite the unexpected disruptions.

Among the disappointed attendees was Jamie Fry, a 42-year-old traveler from the United Kingdom, who had specifically flown in for the tree-lighting spectacle, as was noted in the Post report. Expressing annoyance, Fry remarked that his holiday plans were disrupted by what he described as a group of “terrorist-loving” individuals calling for intifada. Despite the disruption, he emphasized that the protesters’ strategy for sympathy would only result in a defiant response.

Opal Burnett, a 33-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, echoed Fry’s sentiments, described the interruption as “super, super annoying” and expressed embarrassment as an American, according to the Post report. Burnett acknowledged the challenges faced by law enforcement in maintaining control amidst verbal abuse and commended them for showing restraint.

While some attendees voiced frustration and embarrassment, others were more resilient, emphasizing the significance of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony as a message of peace. The Post reported that Lillian Gonzalez, a 40-year-old from the Bronx, asserted that politics had no place at such an event and suggested that disruptive protests aimed to shake up the status quo. Gonzalez, along with others, was determined not to let the disruptive activity spoil the holiday tradition they cherish.

The disruption comes days after pro-Palestinian activists disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when they glued themselves to the street in the middle of the parade route.

“Several protesters — wearing white jumpsuits with protest slogans and already splattered with red — interrupted the floats and balloons just before 11 a.m., forcing the parade to be halted,” noted the New York Post.

“They walked 6th Avenue with large signs including ‘Liberation for Palestine and Planet,’ a message they also chanted,” it added. “Several then pretended to be dead on the ground as others walked around pouring fake blood over them and the road — with their chants met by loud boos from spectators.”

The boisterous protest, aimed at disrupting the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony, dissipated after approximately an hour. However, the demonstrators transitioned into a march through Manhattan toward Times Square, shouting the phrase “Shut it down,” the Post report said.

The incident prompts discussions on the delicate balance between the right to protest and the need to maintain order, particularly in spaces intended for shared celebration and joy.

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