Biden's Detroit visit greeted by pro-Palestinian protesters

Protesters march outside Huntington Place on May 19, 2024, where President Joe Biden is expected to speak to a crowd gathered for the NAACP's 69th annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.
Protesters march outside Huntington Place on May 19, 2024, where President Joe Biden is expected to speak to a crowd gathered for the NAACP's 69th annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.

Ahead of President Joe Biden's campaign stop at the 69th annual Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, protesters gathered outside Huntington Place Sunday, advocating for the U.S. to divest from Israel.

“We’re saying [Biden] does not get to campaign like business as usual," said Kate Stenvig, an organizer with advocacy group By Any Means Necessary.

"The movement of young people that have been fighting for liberation is strong, growing and not stopping. We're here to make it clear that here in Detroit and in Michigan we stand with the people and their struggle.”

Protesters started off at Hart Plaza, numbering in the dozens and with many waving Palestinian flags and carrying signs. The group marched to Huntington Place to centralize two groups of protesters in the downtown area.

They were quickly met by police officers and barriers were immediately enforced to ensure event guests could enter. At least one arrest was made.

Protestors marched in a circle shouting, "Say it loud, say it clear, Biden we don't want you here." Other chants at the event included, "free, free Palestine" and "Biden, Biden you're a liar, we demand a cease-fire."

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in Detroit ahead of a campaign stop from President Joe Biden.
Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in Detroit ahead of a campaign stop from President Joe Biden.

Stenvig believes if the U.S. stopped funding Israel in the war, "The fight would not be over, but it would be a great victory and a first step for the Palestinian people.”Earlier Sunday, in Dearborn, protesters in support of Palestinians and against President Joe Biden outside the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Waving Palestinian flags, they chanted  “Genocide Joe” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Some cars and trucks passing by on Michigan Avenue honked their horns in support. Dearborn police monitored the rally, which was peaceful with no arrests.

The rally was organized by several Arab American groups in Dearborn. Organizers and attendees interviewed said they will not support Biden. The rally is an annual event held around the anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, which is marked May 15 by Palestinians to remember being removed in 1948.

“Today’s rally is called ‘No votes for genocide,’” said Amer Zahr, a Dearborn attorney of Palestinian descent who helped organize the protest. “This community will be the community who unseats Joe Biden. … A president who has fostered an atmosphere of hate against our community, who has lied, and who has supported this genocide is going to be someone who is not going to get any votes from our community.”

Zahr said they learned Biden was coming to Detroit after the rally had been planned.

Sufian Nabhan, executive director of the Islamic Center of Detroit, also said that he and others will not back Biden.

“In November … we will not support Joe Biden,” Nabhan said. “Even if the result is going to be very bad for us by having Trump as president, we are insisting not to vote for Biden.”

Michigan is expected to be a closely-contested state and play a pivotal role in this year's presidential election.

This visit from Biden marks his third time visiting Michigan this year with visits to Warren in February and Saginaw County in March. Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has visited Saginaw County and Waterford Township.

Jalen Williams is an intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at jawilliams1@freepress.com.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Pro-Palestinian protestors greet President Joe Biden in Detroit