Protestors Hold Vigil Asking Senator Harris for Response to Deadly Protests in Gaza

Approximately 50 people stood in front of senator Kamala Harris’ Los Angeles office on Friday, May 18 to hold a vigil for the estimated 60 people killed in Gaza the past Monday. The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Los Angeles organization held this event primarily in remembrance of the casualties.

JVP’s coordinating committee member, Sarah Jacobus, said, “My sense of urgency about the need to take action in response to the Israeli military’s killing of now over a hundred Palestinian protesters who were marching for their right to return home.” 

The incident occurred in the middle of the Palestinian protesters' Great March of Return that started on March 30, when they pitched tents along the border of Israel. The marchers held the protest more than 70 years after Israel became an independent country that led many Palestinians to lose their land. 

The approximately 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli defense forces on Monday, May 14 has been the deadliest day in Gaza since the war in 2014 between Israel and Gaza, according to The Atlantic. It also coincided with Israel's Independence Day, or Yom Ha'atzmaut. A few days after the incident, a senior Hamas official acknowledged that 50 out of the 60 killed were members of the organization, with the rest being civilians, according to NBC News.

The vigil was held in front of Senator Harris’ Los Angeles offices to urge the politician to condemn the attacks in Gaza. “We’re here today specifically because the offices of our California Senator Kamala Harris are in this building," Jacobus said. "She has not spoken up at all about what’s been happening in Gaza this week. So, we’re here specifically to urge her to break her silence and condemn the killings and to speak up in support of the right of Palestinians to protest for their right to return home.”

The event began at 6 p.m., where JVP member and therapist Socket Klatzker prepared the group for a vigil by holding a short meditation for those in attendance on the side of the building where Senator Harris’ office is located. “As we are outraged, we are heartbroken, we need to speak out against the killings in Gaza," Klatzker said. "And we need to help Palestinians towards their liberation."

Klatzer then led the group to the front of the building by holding signs and singing a variety of chants such as, “We are sending love and compassion,” in English and Arabic. Once the group was in front of the building, Klatzer proceeded to hand out thirty stones to those in attendance.

As 30 of the 60 names of those killed in Gaza on Monday were called out, a stone was placed on the make-shift brick alter. Thirty sunflowers were then handed out for the remaining 30 people killed. Klatzer proceeded to say the name of the perished as individuals stepped to place down their flower. As the name Zayid Mohamed Hasan Omar, 19, was spoken, the last flower was placed at the altar.

The vigil concluded after Klatzer led a player just after 6:30 p.m.