About 100 people gathered Saturday in Sylvester Park, holding signs showing support for the family of Rachel Corrie, an Olympia activist killed in the Gaza Strip after standing in front of an Israeli military bulldozer.
Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of Corrie’s death at the age of 23. She had traveled to Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement and was acting as a human shield to try to stop Israeli soldiers from destroying Palestinian homes and farms.
Supporters from all around the globe spoke about Corrie, her message and sacrifice a decade ago.
“It’s very important her message can continue,” said Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie. “It’s terribly important we keep this alive.”
The Corries sued to hold Israel responsible for their daughter’s death. The lawsuit was rejected. The family has appealed the judge’s ruling, and plans to be before the court again in February.
“Nobody in Israel has been held responsible for Rachel’s death, and all we are asking for is to enforce the law,” said speaker Sallie Shawl, a representative of the Jewish Voice for Peace Tacoma chapter, at the rally.
During a short break from rain, speakers stood inside the gazebo, which was decorated with white doves carrying photographs of Rachel Corrie. Those attending held up signs stating, “Apartheid is always wrong,” “Equal rights for Palestinians – the way for peace” and “Humanity knows no boundaries.”
As Americans, Corrie’s father, Craig Corrie, told the crowd, we are more responsible for what’s wrong with the world than what’s right.
A graduate student from Gaza also spoke to the crowd, describing what freedom would mean in her homeland.
“All human beings have the sense of peace inside themselves,” said Abeer Alygazji. “But they need something to push them to this position … to go back to our origins and nature; let the peace inside us come.”
Evergreen Community College senior Elissa Goss traveled to the Mideast in the fall. Seeing it first hand was revealing, she said.
“Every time they try to do the daily act of survival, some law, some code, something says you can’t,” Goss said. “It’s the systematic bureaucracy saying no to life, and that’s what we are fighting against.”
The day’s events continued with speakers Phyllis Bennis of the Institute of Policy and Studies and Ramzy Baroud of The Palestine Chronicle, in the Olympia Ballroom.
Saturday’s turnout was comforting to Corrie’s family, who said it was a celebratory day.
“I know now she is a symbol to other people in the world,” Cindy Corrie said. “For what she stood for, and Gaza is still under siege … it’s very important her message can continue.”