If You Take Peace from the People, We Take Peace from You: A Call for Sustained Action Against the Brooklyn Museum for Gaza

On Friday May 31st – the 237th day of the ongoing genocide in Gaza in which over 40,000 Palestinians have been massacred by the zionist entity – the Brooklyn Museum’s complicity in this genocide was met with ongoing escalation. Hundreds of autonomous activists, artists, cultural workers, educators and more de-occupied the museum from inside as thousands flooded the museum’s exterior after a march led by Within Our Lifetime arrived at the entrance. A group of climbers that made it to the roof of the museum unfurled a banner that carried the central message of the action: “Free Palestine: Divest from Genocide.” 

Despite its claim to be a “progressive” cultural institution, we know that through its leadership, trustees, corporate sponsors and donors, this museum is deeply invested in and complicit in the ongoing colonization, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people. The de-occupation had three central demands for the Brooklyn Museum, uplifting a sustained call from its workers which has thus far gone unrecognized by the institution:

  1. To recognize the genocide in Palestine and make a declaration to this effect
  2. To disclose its investments and divest from Israel’s genocidal apparatus
  3. To pay reparations for its contributions to colonial looting and gentrification 
Photo from @anywheresomewhere_ on Instagram

While Friday marked an escalation in tactics, the Brooklyn Museum and cultural institutions across New York City have long been targets of protest, confrontation, disruption and de-occupation in support of Palestinian liberation and the struggles of oppressed and colonized people around the world. Since October alone, WOL has protested the Brooklyn Museum, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art over a half dozen times, while coordinated autonomous actions have shut down the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and taken action against countless other cultural institutions.

In 2019, WOL participated in 9 weeks of sustained action along with Decolonize This Place and other community organizations at the Whitney Museum, which included taking over the lobby of the museum week after week and resulted in the resignation of weapons manufacturer Warren Kanders from the museum’s Board of Trustees. At that time Within Our Lifetime Chair Nerdeen Kiswani declared in reference to Kanders, “If you take peace from the people, we take peace from you.” 

In 2021 WOL responded to the call to confront the Museum of Modern Art for its complicity in zionism, imperialism, death and destruction, mobilizing in support of the Strike MoMA struggle which targeted the museum every Friday for 10 weeks. And more recently in December 2023, Nerdeen and members of WOL, alongside dozens of activists, led a banner drop and protest inside the Brooklyn Museum, calling on the museum to cut all ties with donors invested in the genocide in Gaza. 

Not once have these museums called the NYPD inside to brutalize or arrest us. This past Friday, that changed. 

Within minutes of the de-occupation inside starting, the museum called the NYPD. The front doors of the building were promptly locked, blocking many protesters from leaving. Meanwhile, a line of cops in riot gear, including the SRG and TARU units, stood guard outside aiming to intimidate our rally. They were accompanied by dozens of vans, Emergency Services Unit vehicles, and even a helicopter circling dangerously low over the museum, in violation of the NYPD’s settlement agreement with the ACLU. 

As the police raided the lobby to dissolve the de-occupation inside, they quickly targeted WOL chair Nerdeen Kiswani. At least six male officers threw her to the ground, lunged on top of her, and ripped off her hijab in front of a large crowd as she screamed, “What are you doing?” 

Outside, cops brutally kettled, tackled, and brutalized protesters at random against the backdrop of the museum’s land acknowledgements, leaving several individuals bloodied and bruised.

We condemn the Brooklyn Museum and hold its leadership fully accountable for the violence carried out against the protestors inside and outside the museum, the majority of whom were Black and Brown youth and young women.

Video from @nyxnyc on TikTok

After taking Nerdeen and over thirty other arrestees to 1 Police Plaza, the police held them in custody for hours. They did not release Nerdeen until 5 AM, 12 hours after she was violently arrested. The NYPD repeatedly told supporters waiting for arrestees outside 1PP that there were no more arrestees who were coming out that night. Despite those lies, three more people, including Nerdeen, were released. It appears the cops’ intention was to send everyone home so that Nerdeen and others were received by no one upon their release. The NYPD has demonstrated countless times their intention to humiliate visibly Muslim women, especially movement leaders, in an effort to intimidate us and weaken our commitment to the Palestinian struggle. 

Although “repression is nothing new to the Palestine movement, it’s definitely been ramping up over the last eight months,” Nerdeen explained during an interview with AJ+ following her arrest. “Ever since 2024, really in January the NYPD has taken a different turn. They’re just doing whatever they can, and then asking questions later. Just brutalize now, ask questions later. Limit free speech now, ask questions later.”

“They really want Palestine to stop being in the focus,” she added. “They think that by attacking us, by trying to silence, that’s going to work. But one thing we’ve always said is the more they try to silence us, the louder we will be.”


The Brooklyn Museum’s actions on Friday are a violent consequence of their investment in the genocidal zionist entity: they insist on fueling and profiting from a colonial occupation even if they must endanger and brutalize the artists they claim to represent in the process. In doing so, the Museum has illustrated the absurdity of hollow expressions of solidarity from such cultural institutions which are financed by the same forces getting rich on genocide. During the George Floyd uprising in 2020, the Brooklyn Museum opened up its lobby as a so-called safe haven for Black Lives Matter protesters to use the bathroom and charge their phones. On Friday that same lobby became a site of deranged police brutality and a targeted attack against one of the most visible Palestinian community leaders in New York City. The Brooklyn Museum must be held accountable for this. We cannot normalize or become desensitized to this obscene violence.

The Brooklyn Museum, in a desperate attempt to keep its “progressive” facade from slipping off, is now insisting they never called the NYPD at all. Hundreds on the ground and thousands online witnessed the Museum open its doors to riot police after shutting protestors out, inviting them to brutalize those inside. There is no recovering their image from what happened on Friday, they have shown us that they stand on the side of genocide. In a demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and protesters who were brutalized on Friday, several artists withdrew their participation in the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday event the following day — an event sponsored by the genocide profiteer Bank of America.

Although Lieutenant Michael Butler and Deputy Chief Jesse Lance of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South – two of the most violent top brass at Nakba Day in Bay Ridge on May 18th – were not directly interacting with protesters at the Brooklyn Museum, they were nearby in a Mobile Command Center monitoring our movements. Their presence was striking, given that the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD launched an investigation for misconduct following the police brutality witnessed in Bay Ridge during the Nakba Day protest – Butler and Lance led the violent police force that day. Blocking the doors of the Museum, NYPD Officer Daniel Goldstein wore a pin with the American and israeli flags fastened onto his uniform, and was quickly identified as a former IOF soldier based on a photograph at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces gala in New York City in 2019 where he posed next to the organization’s former CEO. 

Accompanying the army of officers was NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry, who has personally targeted Nerdeen and leaders of the Palestine movement in New York City, when insisting in a tweet that officers did not rip her hijab off during a protest on Eid. Such a violation has forced the NYPD to pay out millions in a settlement suit in the past. Daughtry would rather slander Nerdeen and make her the target of online harassment — only adding the racist, Islamophobic, and gendered violence she has had to deal with because of the police. As soon as protesters identified him amidst the swarm of officers and began chanting against him, he retreated into his vehicle and drove away.

During an interview with Democracy Now! outside the museum on Friday, WOL organizer Abdullah Akl noted that Daughtry’s presence “gives us a very clear message that if he is out here with hundreds of riot gear officers and SRG, which is a counterterrorism unit used to surveil protests, and put out drones and multiple helicopters for a peaceful protest, it means one thing: They are not on the side of justice; they are on the side of genocide.”

During the NYPD’s attack on Nerdeen and dozens of protestors both inside and outside the museum, fascist mayor Eric Adams announced the construction of a $225 million police training facility in Queens, the clear first steps in establishing a New York Cop City. As the genocide rages on in Palestine, local forces of repression are investing incomprehensible amounts of money into escalating the crackdown on our movement while transforming our city into a police state where no dissent will be allowed to build power. Two days after the police unleashed an all-out assault on Palestine at the Brooklyn Museum, Daughtry and Adams attended the NYC “Israel Day” parade on Sunday June 2nd  alongside  NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban, killer cop Chief of Patrol John Chell, and Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Tarik Sheppard

At the museum, we also observed the shameful opportunism of people exploiting the Palestine movement for personal gains. Whether they are journalists or protesters, anyone who publishes or circulates images of brutalized and degraded Muslim women and protesters without considering the individual’s consent as well as security risks does not stand in solidarity with us. A Reuters photographer also physically assaulted Palestinian photographer Ashraf Hamideh during the rally, hitting him in the head and concussing him just to take a photograph from a certain angle. 


They ignored their own workers, but they can’t ignore a mass movement. They can try to repress it, they can try to attack it, but it will be back stronger every time and it will expose them even further.”

-Nerdeen Kiswani

The people of New York and the world have committed to a sustained struggle for Palestine for eight months, made possible by the resistance in Gaza. As we continue moving forward, we cannot allow ourselves to be targeted and brutalized every time we march on our own streets. The readiness of various institutions across the city to call on the NYPD to beat us into submission is not normal and should not be accepted as such. In this moment, aggression demands a response, and the crackdown on Palestine demands escalation. 

Photo from @oshimages on Instagram
Photo from @oshimages on Instagram
Photo from @oshimages on Instagram

The Brooklyn Museum is located in the jurisdiction policed by the same cops as Bay Ridge, where the NYPD also targeted organizers and viciously beat dozens of protestors in the heart of New York’s Palestinian community. In shutting down the third largest museum in New York City under their watch, we reaffirmed our steadfast commitment to Palestinian liberation. 

Every institution that  violently suppresses protests the way the Brooklyn Museum did on Friday must be held accountable through sustained action. Organize against the Brooklyn Museum — boycott, disrupt, protest, and condemn them for their depravity. Be like water, flood their establishment, or split into streams and take autonomous action such as the de-occupation. Send a message to every cultural institution in the city: You cannot subject our community to state violence without response and repercussions. Palestine is everywhere and we will not rest until they divest from genocide.


This marks the fourth time that Nerdeen has been targeted for arrest at a protest in the past six months. She has been beaten and injured on numerous occasions, her hijab being ripped off by police at least twice. The NYPD’s escalatory violence against Nerdeen is part of the global zionist political project that is built on and sustained through violence against Palestinians. Just as we must refuse to allow for the normalization of zionist violence in Palestine, we must refuse to allow for the normalization of targeted attacks against Palestinian, Muslim women serving as movement leaders in NYC.

Within Our Lifetime calls on all movements fighting against oppression to stand with us and condemn the NYPD for its systematic targeting, assault, arrest, and detention of Nerdeen Kiswani.

Photo from @alexabwilkinson on Instagram

Fighting for Gaza and resisting the genocide there requires us to resist state violence and repression here. We must mobilize in defense of those who are targeted as a tactic of intimidation against all people in the movement for Palestine. Despite the attacks on our community, our struggle, and our leaders, the people of New York keep flooding the city in defense of Gaza day after day. 

As Nerdeen told AJ+, “Any pain, suffering, humiliation that we go through, we understand is a fraction, is nothing in comparison to what our families and loved ones in Gaza and all of Palestine are facing. When they inflict this violence on me, on all of us, it’s just a reminder of what we’re actually fighting for and it just makes us stronger.”