Detroit Evening Report: Hundreds gather at Hart Plaza to mourn lives lost in Israel-Hamas conflict

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People from all walks of life gathered to mourn those who have been killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

People from all walks of life gathered to mourn those who have been killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Hundreds of people gathered at Hart Plaza Thursday night to mourn, pray, and be in the community as part of an interfaith gathering and memorial.

Organized by nearly 30 organizations, the “Rooted in Humanity Mourn Innocent People Killed” event was held to honor those killed during the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the conflict began, while more than 1,200 Israeli civilians were killed during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

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Event attendee Sumayya Cherri, of Dearborn Heights, said she was grateful for a community space to grieve, and moved by the solidarity of people from all walks of life who attended.

“Sitting at home behind the screen or going to protests, we’re not really grieving. We’re not processing anything that’s actually happening right now,” she said. “So it’s nice to be with other individuals who are also going through that. And we can help each other grieve and have space to breathe as well.”

The event featured prayers from Native American, Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions, along with songs and poetry by interfaith leaders and local activists. People also read out the names of children who died in the conflict.

Erick Fredendall came out for the event from Port Huron to express his solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“I believe that passivity is a choice. And I think that we will have to come together to speak out against, you know, the war crimes and the horrible tragedy that’s happening,” Fredendall said.

He said it was powerful to hear the stories of people who died in the conflict — and also heartbreaking.

People came out to the event dressed in black, carrying candles, teddy bears and personal notes for a makeshift memorial at Hart Plaza.

Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — who was recently censured by the U.S. House of Representatives for posting a slogan some members of the Jewish community find antisemitic — also made an appearance.

“It’s those that don’t cry that I’m worried about. It’s those that don’t care that I’m worried about. Those that continue to tell me ‘sshh wait.’ Wait for what? Another 11,000 people to die? No,” she said at the event.

Tlaib said she felt hopeful seeing people coming together in “shared humanity.”

Emad Shehada, who lost 20 members of his family in Gaza, and the Alarayshi family, who sued the U.S. government to facilitate travel for Americans stuck in Gaza, were among those who shared their stories.

Reporting by WDET’s Nargis Rahman.

Other headlines for Friday, Nov. 17, 2023:

  • There will be several Thanksgiving food giveaways throughout the city this weekend, including at the Boys and Girls Club, CNS Healthcare, The Islamic Center of Detroit, Kappa Detroit Foundation Development Center, Williams Community Center and more.
  • Detroit’s 20th annual Christmas Tree Lighting is planned from 4 to 9 p.m. tonight in Campus Martius.
  • Dearborn’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Sing-along will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, ath the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.
  • Community groups and block clubs are invited to attend the Detroit Land Bank Authority’s Cultivating Create-A-Project event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Michigan Welcome Center.

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  • Sascha Raiyn
    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.