On August 16, 2012, a Palestinian American man went to pay respects to his deceased father at Evergreen Cemetery and was horrified to see anti-Muslim hate graffiti on a number of Muslim graves. Evergreen Cemetery is home to at least 500 Muslim graves. Cemetery officials and the police have been notified. The cemetery is located at 3401 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, IL 60805.
On the third anniversary of Israel’s twenty-two day invasion of the besieged Gaza Strip, Chicagoans took to the streets to honor the fallen with a mass balloon release.
Among the 1,400 Palestinians killed during Israel’s invasion were at least 340 children who were, in most cases, playing soccer in the streets, sleeping with their favorite stuffed animals, or running errands for mom and dad when the missiles hit. Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights (CMPR), a youth-led collective, organized this gathering to symbolically commemorate these lost lives. Organizers in Nabi Saleh arranged an identical event the day before but were attacked with Israeli tear gas and water cannons.
Each balloon was tagged with the name and age of one of the killed children. The materials used were all biodegradable and the seed paper used for the tags is expected to bloom flowers wherever the tags land, a small but powerful tribute to the beauty and resilience of our fellow Palestinians in Gaza.
Yesterday in Chicago, more than 300 balloons were released in downtown Grant Park — one balloon for each child killed during Israel’s 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip three years ago.
Attached to the balloons were the names and descriptions of each child. The organizers, the youth-led Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights, stated in their call for the event:
The balloons are 100% biodegradable and the cards will be made from flowerseed paper. So wherever they land, these cards will plant seeds in the ground that will bloom into beautiful flowers in the spring. This is our way of paying tribute to the memory of each child.
At least a hundred people attended (this is my conservative estimate) and organizers announced that people came from out of state to participate. Attendees assembled in Millennium Park and marched to Grant Park, chanting solidarity messages.
A similar action was planned the day before in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, which recently mourned the murder of Mustafa Tamimi, killed after he was shot in the face by a tear gas canister during the village’s weekly protest. The Israeli army and border police repressively dispersed Friday’s protest and arrests were reported.
If you’re in town, join the Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights as it releases hundreds of balloons into the sky to honor the children killed during Israel’s invasion of Gaza three years ago.
Each balloon will carry a tag with the name of the martyred child printed on seed paper. Wherever these (biodegradable) balloons land, flowers will eventually sprout from the seed paper in a way that resembles life in Gaza — blooming vibrantly and standing tall.
This is going down tomorrow in Chicago.