Minnesotans waved Palestinian flags and swarmed the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday evening to demand a ceasefire in Gaza, where thousands have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in recent days.
The event, "Stand with Palestine," drew about 1,000 people. It featured speakers who demanded an end to Israel's 75-year-long occupation of Palestine, and criticized local officials for their response to the conflict.
That included Gov. Tim Walz, who received criticism at the rally for several high-profile shows of support for Israel.
Sana Wazwaz, a chapter lead from American Muslims for Palestine, said the group condemns Walz for his actions so far in the conflict.
"We call on him to and we implore him to understand the need for an immediate ceasefire and to make a public call to do so," Wazwaz said in an interview.
Walz has ordered flags in Minnesota to be put at half-staff in support of Israel. Walz's office did not provide comment on remarks made about him at the rally.
On Oct. 11, Walz released a statement, saying:
"We will continue to stand in solidarity with Minnesota's Jewish and Israeli community and work with the State Department to ensure the safety of Minnesotans at home and abroad."
Walz's comments and actions in support of Israel have been similar in tone and content to most high-profile Democratic Party leaders. The conflict has exposed divisions between some on the party's left and moderate flanks.
Israel's bombings killed many Palestinians who don't associate with Hamas, and in areas of southern Gaza where Israel told Gazans to go for safety. The Palestinian death toll rose above 3,400 by Wednesday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Israel declared war following a wave of attacks Oct. 7 by the militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the U.S., has killed over 1,400 Israelis and taken more hostage.
Crowd members held up signs, many reading "Ceasefire," and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."
In interviews, attendees said they think the discourse and response by politicians fails to recognize the suffering of Palestinians, and that they think the conflict is a result of Israeli government policies.
Eric Angell, 56, was carrying a sign that read "Peace" in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Angell said he thinks the current conflict has been brewing since the occupation began decades ago.
"This has not been something that started just this week or last week. It's it's been going on since 1948," he said.
Wazwaz added that organizers believe Israel is not retaliating in response to the attack by Hamas, but that it's targeting the Palestinian civilians.
The crowd included a large number of younger community members. Salah Aldeen, a high-schooler and member of Students for Justice in Palestine, ended his statements by calling for peace and justice.
"We, as a global community, must come together to ensure a dream of a just and lasting peace in the region becomes a reality," he said.