The signs read things like “Decolonize Your Ass,” “Another Jew For A Free Palestine,” and “Israel is Toxic YT Girl Energy,” on a chilly Saturday afternoon in Herbert Von King park in nearby Bed-Stuy. Protests had shut down various thoroughfares in central Manhattan during the week before and the issue was making its way into Brooklyn through a show organized two days earlier by members of a local, self-described “Pan Arab Hardcore” band called Pure Terror. The cause, supporting a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, has quickly become a popular one among local punks; early next month, Pure Terror, a somewhat new band with a debut EP that came out this past July (complete with Ghassan Kanafani samples and field-recorded protest chants from the early Arab Spring) will be opening for scene figureheads Show Me The Body at TV Eye in Ridgewood, a benefit show “to raise funds for the Palestinian Youth Movement and Within Our Lifetime,” the latter the New York non-profit that operates as the political arm of the recent CUNY graduate Nerdeen Kiswani.
“We refuse to be silenced by our own government who is not only complicit, but an active participant in this genocide. We reject fascism, we reject islamophobia, we reject antisemitism, we reject settlement-colonialism, all the way from New York to Palestine,” one of the show’s organizers read out loud from a phone. The flavor of some of the signage pointed to concerns that dated to the early Bush-era; e.g. “All Empires Fall,” or “Black Jews Against Empire” etcetera, but the tenor of the call and response chants of “Palestine will be free,” brought the mind the more recent Occupy protests.
The park’s amphitheater, a city-run venue that puts on a free summer concert series, had been painted a pan-African red and black, nearly three decades ago by a local artist named Akwesi Asante, and the colors fit seamlessly with the similarly-colored Palestinian flags that were omnipresent, ditto the equally omnipresent watermelon signage, a nod to what a Hyperallergic blogger once called “a public expression of cultural pride in artworks representing the struggle against Israeli apartheid.” Slices of the fruit, of the grocery store variety, were handed out by organizers, along with bottles of Yerba Mate and burritos from a Williamsburg restaurant, coloring the overall punk spirit and ethos that filled the otherwise generally quiet corner of the park, filled now with copious leather jackets, tote bags from small bookstores, and the various colors of assorted keffiyehs.
Another new band, local hardcore act No Knock, delivered perhaps the most mesmerizing set of the afternoon; the frontman a wire of ecstatic, barely comprehensible charisma, which can be found deployed in their debut demo tape to song with titles like “nothing,” “activist” and “i hate future.”
The crowd pogoed, at first cautiously, in small, singular spurts and then energetically, with great collective force. Further protests are planned, the organizers promise, all across the city, on Friday.
Photos taken by Andrew Karpan.
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