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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

BDS Boston protests in Harvard Square over Chase Bank’s investment in Elbit Systems

Hundreds+gather+on+John+F.+Kennedy+Street+to+protest+Chase+Banks+investment+in+Elbit+systems%2C+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+20%2C+2024.+%28Sofia+Waldron%2FBeacon+Staff%29
Sofia Waldron
Hundreds gather on John F. Kennedy Street to protest Chase Bank’s investment in Elbit systems, on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Sofia Waldron/Beacon Staff)

A crowd of hundreds gathered in front of Chase Bank’s Harvard Square location in Cambridge on Saturday morning to protest the institution’s investment in Elbit Systems, the primary weapons manufacturer for the Israel Defense Forces. 

Organized by the Boston chapter of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, the demonstration was part of a campaign that criticizes Elbit Systems for supplying weapons to Israel. According to its website, BDS is a Palestinian-led global movement with unions across the world “challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.”

BDS organizers handed out flyers calling for the public to close their Chase Bank accounts and to sign BDS’s petition demanding that Elbit’s American subsidiary leave the city of Cambridge.

Photo: Sofia Waldron
The crowd gathers around Chase Bank on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, with their own signs protesting the institution’s investment in Elbit systems. (Sofia Waldron/Beacon Staff)

“The occupation in Palestine is unjust in an apartheid regime,” said EJ Sawyer, a media representative from BDS Boston at the protest. “And companies like Elbit Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin are all profiting off of selling weapons to Israel.”

Elbit Systems of America, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is a subsidiary of the Israel-based Elbit Systems, a major provider for the Israeli military. Since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, Elbit said it has boosted supplies to Israel’s military, according to Reuters

The U.S. company opened its Cambridge location in December 2021. 

This is not the first protest against Elbit that has taken place in Cambridge since the war started. Just last month, protesters gathered in front of City Hall demanding the weapons manufacturer leave the city. In October, a previous demonstration against Elbit resulted in the arrest of nine people after police said protesters vandalized the building and attacked officers. Cambridge police said they have since prepared and provided resources for the increase in protests.

“Everybody should be out here fighting for Palestinian liberation and trying to get companies like Chase Bank to divest from apartheid and occupation,” said Sawyer. 

Gloves, hats, cough drops, and hand warmers were passed out by volunteers throughout the demonstrations. 

“We have families who are perishing under the rubble, with parents desperately trying to seek out their children who may take days to die under the rubble,” said Karin Powers, one of the many attendees in Saturday’s demonstration. “Terrorism didn’t begin on Oct. 7.” 

A portion of John F. Kennedy Street was closed during the protests as the crowd walked in circles chanting phrases such as “Land Back. When do we want it? Now!” and “Shut Elbit down.” 

“I feel like our financial institutions should be taking the lead on not making money off of killing anybody,” said Willa Bandler of Walpole, another attendee at Saturday’s rally in an interview with the Beacon.

Photo: Sofia Waldron
A protestor carries a sign that reads “Elbit & Azerbaijan partners in Genocide.” (Sofia Waldron/Beacon Staff)
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Sofia Waldron, Reels Editor
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