Thousands of protesters marched to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City on Saturday afternoon, November 25, as part of a massive action in support of Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed more than 14,000 Palestinians over the past month and a half. After nearly seven weeks of continual bombings following Hamas’s October 7 attack, Israel agreed to a “humanitarian pause” last week which was extended today for two additional days.
Activists gathered at 2pm at Columbus Circle, some 20 blocks south of AMNH. Organizers who spoke to Hyperallergic said that by the time they reached the museum around 4:30pm, the institution had shut its doors ahead of its normal 5:30pm closing time. Photographs show barricades blocking the protestors from the building’s entrance and police standing between the metal barriers and the museum doors. However, the AMNH disputed the organizers’ account, telling Hyperallergic that the museum actually stayed open later than normal, until 6pm, due to the holiday and that it admitted visitors until 5:15pm.
The action, organized by the advocacy groups Within Our Lifetime and Decolonize This Place (DTP), was described as an “anti-colonial tour,” in line with initiatives such as the “anti-Columbus Day tour” organized in Manhattan in recent years. Activists handed out leaflets listing AMNH displays linked to colonialism, such as the Hall of African Peoples and the Native culture displays inside the Northwest Coast Hall.
“AMNH is a bastion of colonial history and Indigenous genocide, as they hold the remains of over 12,000 people, including those of Indigenous people,” said Nerdeen Kiswani, who spoke at the action. She also called out the museum’s acceptance of funds from corporate patrons linked to Zionist individuals and principles, such as the Bank of New York Mellon, which facilitates a charity for the Israeli military and holds investments in Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems. AMNH has not responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment on the bank’s financial sponsorship of the museum.
“AMNH is an important place to target for protests as we are witnessing a genocide of Indigenous Palestinians take plaza in Gaza right now,” Kiswani continued, adding that it was vital the action take place this past weekend, a day after Black Friday. “The USA is celebrating an Indigenous genocide disguised as Thanksgiving as it continues to fund and provide the weapons for Israel’s ongoing mass execution of Palestinians right now.”