Gaza peace activists put Al Franken on blast, plan "die-in" at Star Tribune HQ [VIDEO]
Sixteen protesters, including Jess Sundin, were arrested after they refused to leave Franken's office.
A local organization called the Anti-War Committee is taking Minnesota's U.S. Senators to task for siding with Israel during that country's ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
Last week, the group stormed Sen. Al Franken's Minnesota office and ended up getting him on the phone for a tense conversation.
Keith Ellison denied entry to Gaza
Here's the video, which culminates in one activist telling a silent Franken, "I just don't know how you can sit on the other end of the call and spout non-stop bullshit, when you know in your heart, the person that you used to be before you were the senator you felt differently" (Franken was in D.C. at the time):
Jess Sundin, who cofounded the Anti-War Committee back in 1998, says the organization plans to protest outside Sen. Amy Klobuchar's Minneapolis office at 4:30 p.m. today, then march over to the Star Tribune's headquarters for a "die-in."
"We're focusing on the senators in the Twin Cities to really highlight the role of the U.S. government in supporting Israel, both with aid and political support," Sundin tells us. "Our senators have really played a leading role in that support, [voting in favor of] multiple resolutions supporting the bombardment that Israel is doing in Gaza... At the same time many countries are calling for an economic embargo [against Israel], it's quite shameful to increase aid to the Israeli military which has no accountability for humanitarian standards."
Sundin says she's troubled by the disconnect between our senators' views and what she hears from their constituents.
"Franken presented himself as a progressive, on the left side of the Democrats, and in that respect, I've been out in the community talking with people about what's going on and people have been surprised at the role he's played," she says. "In a democracy these folks should be representing their constituents, not voting the way AIPAC [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] wants them to... We don't gain anything by sponsoring the massacre that's taking place in Gaza."
Asked about how she thought the phone conversation with Franken went, Sundin says, "I was surprised he got on the phone at all... but what I heard come out of him was absolutely boilerplate."
(For more, click to page two.)
"There was absolutely no answer to crucial questions like, do Palestinians have the right to defend themselves?" Sundin says. "It's like this wacky world, like Orwell's 1984 , when you're killing on this massive scale and there's no accountability from the international community so far. My feeling from that phone call is that Senator Franken is absolutely in the pocket of Israel and has no interest in representing basic humanitarian views on this issue."
"It's not what people want from him, and when he looks forward to campaigning in the coming [months] I hope he'll be held accountable for his decisions on this issue," Sundin continues. "Minnesota will show him that this is not good enough."
As for the Star Tribune "die in," where protestors plan to sprawl their bodies outside the Strib building in the manner of dead Gazans, Sundin says, "We do have a grievance with the lack of coverage [of Gaza] in the mainstream media."
"I think our real objective isn't per se to attack the Star Tribune but to challenge it and to do it in a public way where everybody can see what we're doing," she continues. "I hope reporters will cover it, because it's about time."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.