CHEYENNE — About 40 people gathered outside the Wyoming Capitol on Monday for a rally in support of Palestine.
Members of an advocacy group called WY 4 Palestine didn’t mince words, accusing Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman of committing genocide by supporting Israel’s military action in Palestine and U.S. military strikes in other places.
“Governor Gordon, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” the protestors chanted.
Gordon did not respond to a request for comment about the protest.
Hageman did, and referenced Cowboy State Daily to the Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attacks launched by Hamas on Israeli civilians.
“Over 200 people were kidnapped — including Americans — and many are still being held hostage to this day,” Hageman said. “If the individuals ‘protesting’ at the Wyoming Capitol this morning want to support Hamas, they should go join the terrorists and leave this wonderful country that they find so offensive.”
Allemand Gets Involved
At one point early on in the rally, state Rep. Bill Allemand, R-Casper, got into a back-and-forth argument with the rally-goers. He eventually went back into the Capitol without any further issue.
“In my opinion, their cause is very misguided,” Allemand said.
Allemand stressed that although he sharply disagrees with their perspective on Israel — a nation he supports — he holds no ill-will against the protestors individually and believes they are “good people.”
He also said he thought it was important as a legislator to show the protestors they were being acknowledged by lawmakers.
“I wanted to show them to see that somebody in that damn place cares about them,” he said. “Nobody else came out there.”
There were only a few onlookers at Monday’s event and nearly all of the rally attendees physically participated in the protest. There was also a few pro-Israel counter-protestors standing across the street who occasionally yelled at the rally participants.
No More Support
Organizer Dylan Williams led the rally that coincided with the first day of the 2024 Wyoming Legislature session.
“We are here to demand that Wyoming stop using our taxes to support this genocidal regime,” Williams said.
Williams claimed that Hamas has apologized for the way it carried out the Oct. 7 attacks, but the terroristic group has only admitted fault in the way it carried out the operation.
According to official Israeli accounts, the attacks on Oct. 7 resulted in the deaths of 1,140 people, mostly civilians. Hamas also hauled around 240 people back to Gaza as hostages in the worst violence against Jews since the Holocaust.
Since that time, many more Palestinian civilians have been killed in airstrikes by the Israel Defense Forces, which has included the bombing of schools, hospitals and other public centers in Gaza.
Many hostages have been released by Hamas, and Williams claimed the ones still remaining in custody have been well treated.
This goes against what Cheyenne resident and native Israeli Matani Ravenna said during a pro-Israel rally held at the Capitol on Sunday.
Ravenna, who previously served in the Israeli Defense Forces, said one of his former military colleagues is now being held hostage by Hamas. The Hamas fighters, Ravenna said, are raping his female friend every day and have cut off all her fingers.
‘From The River To The Sea’
During the rally, the protestors vocalized numerous chants, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.
One of these was “from the river to the sea,” which has become a battle cry between many Jews and pro-Palestinian activists in the aftermath of Hamas’ deadly rampage on Oct. 7.
Many Palestinian activists say it’s a call for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and open-ended Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians. A great number of Jews hear it as a genocidal threat with a clear demand for Israel’s destruction.
Williams and other protestors stressed that supporting Palestinian civilians and/or opposing Zionism is not an act of antisemitism.
Despite condemning Gordon, Hageman and the Israeli Defense Forces and the killing of the civilians Oct. 7, neither Williams nor the other protestors would verbally condemn Hamas.
Toward the end of the rally, some of the protestors laid out yoga mats and camping pads on the ground and laid down on them with red paint splattered sheets spread over them to symbolize the Palestinians killed so far in the war.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.