Protesters and spectators gather at the rally Credit: Brenda Hamlet

Asbury Park Action for Peace in Palestine (AFPIP) held a rally on April 27th on the steps of the Asbury Park Post Office to protest the war in Gaza.  The group of activists are also petitioning the Asbury Park’s City Council to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, release of all the hostages (Israeli and Palestinian), safe passage for all humanitarian aid workers and a stoppage of all arms flow to Israel. 

Speakers assemble together at the podium Credit: Aariana Flippin
Protester expresses her views with a megaphone Credit: Aariana Flippin
Muata Greene, Spokesman, Veterans for Peace Credit: Brenda Hamlet
Matt Daniels, co-founder of AFPIP, holds up a sign Credit: Aariana Flippin
A protester looks skyward and waves a Palestinian flag Credit: Aariana Flippin

Derek Bloom, Director of Social Justice at Trinity, says AFPIP was formed several months ago as a show of support for Palestinians.  Mr. Bloom believes their proposed resolution, “will show the world that Asbury Park cares.”  

We as military veterans, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. To this end we will work with others both nationally and internationally

Muata Greene, Veterans for Peace

Jules Murtha, AFPIP co-founder said, “I noticed that there was no action being taken for Palestine in Asbury Park.  So, I contacted Derek and we put together this group and rally to protest an American-funded genocide in Palestine.”

Photo of 15 year old Adam Ayyad, shot and killed by Israeli Operating Forces (IOF) in 2023. Credit: Dae'Sani Clarke
A heartfelt message Credit: Aariana Flippin

AFPIP is an umbrella group of some eight organizations, including Veterans for Peace, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Monmouth for Palestine, and Food Not Bombs who sent speakers to the rally.  Katherine Cunningham, a volunteer clergywoman at Trinity Church, opened the rally with a brief reading of the group’s Manifesto. One hundred or so supporters gathered around the base of the steps, waving the Palestinian National flag, holding up banners and chanting – “Free Palestine.”

A young protester waves a Palestinian flag Credit: Brenda Hamlet
Protester holds sign in support of Palestinian children Credit: Brenda Hamlet
Jules Murtha and Derek Bloom of AFPIP Credit: Brenda Hamlet

For the next two hours, Pastor Cunningham introduced each speaker to the crowd.  Muata Greene, representing Veterans for Peace, read his Manifesto, “We as military veterans, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. To this end we will work with other both nationally and internationally.” Mr. Greene went on to add seven specific goals to that statement, including the abolishment of war as an instrument of national policy.

Basma Bsharat, Education Director for Palestine American Center in Princeton with Pastor Katherine Cunningham, volunteer clergywoman, at Trinity Church Credit: Brenda Hamlet
Matt Daniels, co-founder of AFPIP, addresses the crowd Credit: Brenda Hamlet

I am here as a parent. I do not want my tax dollars going to killing children.

Katherine Healey

Many of the protesters in the crowd waved Palestinian flags and held up banners and signs in support of Palestine.  Katherine Healey and her five-year-old son Jude said they were there to help end the war.  Ms. Healey explained, “I am here as a parent.  I do not want my tax dollars going to killing children.” Jude agreed, “Wars should never happen.”

Message: When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace Credit: Aariana Flippin
Protester is wrapped in a colorful Palestinian flag during the rally Credit: Dae'Sani Clarke
The message is clear Credit: Aariana Flippin

I am a Jewish woman. This is not an antisemitic rally, I am here because, I believe in freedom for all. And none of us can be free if it means oppressing someone else.

Spokeswoman, Food Not Bombs

Next Basma Bsharat, Education Director for the Palestine American Center in Clifton N.J. who had this to say, “We are 200 days into a war.  But it is also true that we are 200 days into ending seventy-six years of injustice and war against Palestine.”   Her colleague, Princeton student Munna Aldakhlallah then led the crowd in a chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free.”

A four-legged spectator attends the rally Credit: Aariana Flippin
A Palestinian flag waves in the wind Credit: Aariana Flippin
Taking a break from protesting, Katherine and Jude Healey on the steps of the Asbury Park Post Office. Credit: Aariana Flippin

We are all connected to each by our humanity.

Matt Daniels, AFPIP

The rally was peaceful for the most part, disturbed occasionally by a man on a bicycle shouting down the speakers.  The police were quickly dispatched, and he was led away peacefully.   Near to the end of the rally, a spokeswoman for Food Not Bombs addressed the crowd. She said, “I am a Jewish woman. This is not an antisemitic rally, I am here because, I believe in freedom for all. And none of us can be free if it means oppressing someone else.”

The final speaker, Matt Daniels, an Asbury Park resident closely affiliated with AFPIP, closed out the rally and called on all of Asbury Park to stay connected. “We are all connected to each other by our humanity.”

Brenda Hamlet is a journalist covering trends in the media and arts. Brenda lives in Asbury Park and teaches writing at Kean University. Her contributions will focus on the state of the Arts in Asbury Park.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *