Dueling rallies in Maplewood village

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A rally calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was held Sunday in Maplewood’s Ricalton Square while a counter rally was held across the street.

About 50 people supporting Palestinians attended the event organized by an organization called SOMA Collective for Palestine, which had previously held rallies on Sundays in South Orange. More rallies are planned for Sunday afternoons in Maplewood during the month of February, according to the organization’s website.

About 18 counter protesters were across the street from Ricalton Square on the north side of Maplewood Avenue in front of the movie theater.

No physical violence was reported but the rhetoric was loud and often angry. Both sides had bullhorns. The Palestinian side kept up a steady stream of chants, taking aim at Israel, President Biden’s support of Israel and Starbucks.

“Starbucks, Starbucks, you can’t hide, your drinks are made with genocide,” was one such chant. Some have taken issue with the coffee company because it sued the union attempting to organize its employees after a “Solidarity with Palestine!” post appeared on the union’s account on the social media platform X. The post was not authorized by union leaders and was deleted within 40 minutes, but was reposted on other social media. Starbucks sued, claiming trademark infringement because the union uses its name and a logo that looks very similar to the green Starbucks’ logo.

Pro-Israel demonstrators repeatedly yelled “Shame” and “Shame on You” at the other side and made mention of various atrocities committed during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Police maintained a presence throughout and occasionally spoke to participants on either side and directed traffic to keep moving when people slowed down as they drove between the two sides.