The New York Police Department (NYPD) is preparing for pro-Palestinian groups to disrupt the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree.
A call to “flood the tree lighting” at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan was announced in an Instagram post on Tuesday. Protesters were instructed to bring “flags, signs & keffiyehs.” In anticipation of the group of pro-Palestinian protesters, the NYPD has warned that people use “elevated vigilance” during the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony, according to an internal memo viewed by the New York Post.
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree began after construction workers bought and decorated a 20-foot tall tree on Christmas Eve 1931 and set it up at their construction site, according to People Magazine.
In 1933, the first official Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting began. Years later, in 1936, two trees were put up in celebration of the Rockefeller Center ice rink. In 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, the tree was decorated in red, white, and blue.
“This Wednesday 11/29 is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed since 1977,” the post from Within Our Lifetime (WOL) Palestine said. “It’s also the day Rockefeller Center will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting, a major tourist attraction.”
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“This year, Jerusalem’s 13 official churches + the Bethlehem Municipality itself has called to suspend Christmas celebrations in mourning for the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” the WOL Palestine continued. “Join interfaith groups as we honor the call from Christians in Palestine to spend this holiday season standing against the genocide of Palestinians being carried out in our name with our tax dollars.”
While the NYPD memo says there are no “specific or credible” threats surrounding the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting event, the NYPD’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau issued a statement that it was anticipating “there will be protests.”
“We do anticipate that there will be protests in the city on Wednesday – to include around the area of the tree lighting – and at future gatherings around the city in the days and weeks to come, as we have seen over the past seven weeks,” the department said. “The NYPD will be on hand to protect the tree lighting and all those attending, and we will not tolerate disruption or any threats to public safety.”
This comes after Pro-Palestinian protesters in Ypsilanti, Michigan, interrupted the Christmas tree lighting and a children’s choir, chanting, “Free, free, free Palestine!”
On Thanksgiving, pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after gluing their hands to 6th Avenue. Four people were arrested and charged with obstruction of government administration, disorderly conduct, trespassing, harassment, and resisting arrest, the NYPD said.
Thirty others involved were given notices to appear in court, according to the NYPD.
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