Palestinians Unwelcome Obama; $1 Million in Medical Debt Abolished; ‘Persepolis’ Protests in Chicago

Ben Lorber

Rolling Jubilee Gains Momentum: Last week, Strike Debt activists announced that they have purchased and forgiven over $1 million in medical debt. The Rolling Jubilee campaign, launched earlier this year, used donations to forgive the emergency room bills owed by 1,000 randomly chosen people in Kentucky and Indiana, acquired for pennies on the dollar.” Strike Debt has also launched a national week of action to demand cancellation of the country’s medical debt.

Palestinians Unwelcome Obama: On Wednesday, over a hundred Palestinians erected a 15-tent village on a hilltop in the disputed E1 area of the West Bank to protest Barack Obama’s visit to the region. The demonstration represented the latest in a series of Palestinian tent cities erected in defiance of Israel’s plans to build about 4,000 settlement housing units in the controversial E1 area, which would bisect the West Bank and compromise the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state. Palestinian activists assert that the Obama administration has rubber-stamped this state of affairs.

Chicago Students Fight Book-Banning: Nearly 400 students at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep School attempted to stage a sit-in on Monday to protest the Chicago Public School’s removal of the graphic novel series Persepolis’ from its seventh-grade curriculum. The demonstration, organized through Facebook and other social media, started at 8 a.m. with students flooding the hallways, and was broken up twenty minutes later by faculty, who locked the library doors to prevent students from entering. CPS officials say they removed the series of autobiographical novels – which depict the life of a young Iranian woman before, during and after the country’s Islamic revolution – due to their use of strong language and scenes of graphic violence. According to American Libraries, CPS has backtracked on the decision to remove the book from libraries, which students and faculty said amounted to censorship: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has reversed a directive to pull Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, from CPS libraries, though she maintains the book is not appropriate for 7th graders and should be removed from classrooms.”

Tar Sands Week of Action: Environmental activists staged a Stop Tar Sands Profiteers’ week of action nationwide to protest companies profiting from the destruction that could be caused by the Keystone XL Pipeline. In New Orleans on March 17, protesters blocked buses full of oil executives headed to the Howard Well Energy Conference, and disrupted corporate dinners throughout the French Quarter. On March 21st, 20 religious leaders from several denominations led an interfaith demonstration at the White House, followed by oneat the Canadian Embassy. All in all, over 30 events were planned and executed by over 50 grassroots organizations opposed to the pipeline and the corporations that profit from it.

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BEN LORBER works as senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank monitoring right-wing movements, where he focuses on white nationalism and antisemitism. His book Safety through Solidarity: A Radical Guide to Fighting Antisemitism will be released in 2024 with Melville House Books.

Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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