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Wyoming protesters call for a ceasefire while state lawmakers remain unchanged on Gaza war

Two protesters hold signs and chant outside the State Capital
Jordan Uplinger / NPR
Two protesters hold signs and chant outside the State Capital

A little over fifty people gathered in front of the state capitol building to protest the support of some Wyoming lawmakers for the war in Gaza. The activists led calls for both the state and federal government to work towards a ceasefire agreement.

The event was organized by Wyoming4Palestine, which is made of smaller groups such as Fremont County for Ceasefire Now and Free Palestine Casper. Just under 50 protesters gathered on the sidewalk where state employees walked to and from the capitol. Starting at around 9 in the morning and lasting until midafternoon, over thirty protesters chanted, gave speeches, called for a ceasefire, and held a ten-minute moment of silence for Gazans. Across the street, four counter-protesters held a large Israeli flag while another attempted to yell over the event organizers as they spoke.

“Condemn [Hamas], bunch of cowards” yelled a counter-protester, prompting chants of “Ceasefire now!” from the other side of the crosswalk.

Three event organizers addressed the crowd, citing Wyoming's relationship with U.S military projects, its manufacturing industry, and the state energy production capabilities as ways that tax-payers dollars could be currently supporting U.S. efforts to arm and assist Israel.

“Wyoming produces twelve times the amount of energy it needs in coal. And that energy goes to fueling genocide,” said Dillon, an organizer with Anti-Zionist in Solidarity with Yemen and Palestine.

Taylor Pajunen is with Wyoming4Palestine, another group that helped to organize the protest. She says the message is to, “end the suffering.”

“This is the start of the budget session, and we want to make it very clear: we don’t want any funding to support a genocide,” said Pajunen.

At one point, the protesters were able to voice their positions directly to a state official. State Representative Bill Allemand of Casper, a Republican, exited the capitol building to talk with protesters early in the morning. According to Cowboy State Daily, Allemand shared his disagreements with organizers, saying he believed the protesters to be “misguided,” but believed he should still engage with them.

Wyoming’s Republican wing has overwhelmingly made their position on the subject clear. Governor Gordan ordered flags to half-mast after the October 7th attacks. U.S. Congressional Rep. Harriet Hagerman tweeted her support for Israel, and lawmakers passed a resolution condemning Hamas, signed exclusively by state Republicans. A Twitter account linked by the Wyoming Democrats webpage retweeted a post by the Governor stating, “Wyoming stands firmly by our ally Israel,” later followed by a similar retweet from President Biden’s Twitter. Aside from those retweets, state Democrats have remained staunchly local in their politics, staying almost silent on the foreign policy matter.

Abdalrahim Abuwarda, a Palestinian student at the University of Wyoming, attended the protest. He’s had trouble supporting his family ever since they evacuated from Gaza to Egypt, saying goods are “expensive” due to a “scarcity of the resources” being experienced by Palestinians fleeing Gaza.

“My wife and kids evacuated after a month to the southern part of Gaza, which was supposed to be safe, but it's not," said Abdalrahim. “There's continued bombing there as well.”.

Joni Gore, a Jewish activist from Jackson Hole and a member of Jackson Hole for Free Palestine, has family in Israel. She also wants to see a permanent end to violence.

“Both Hamas and Israel need to stop bombing immediately and exchange hostages,” she said. “Israel [should] immediately allow humanitarian aid into Gaza for the millions of Palestinians that are at risk right now, and then, working towards a democratic state. We need integration of both communities and a right of return for Palestinians who have been displaced.”.

The protest that took place on the state capitol aligned with a nationwide protest held to persuade President Biden to reverse course and urge a ceasefire.

Four Republicans, including representatives Sommers, and Neiman, and senators Driskill, and Hicks, recently sponsored a joint resolution expressing, “support for the nation of Israel, condemning the terrorist attacks in Israel, recognizing the sovereignty of Israel and the right of Israel to assure its own safety.”

Protester Alia Carry will be voting in her first election this fall. She said, given the expected electoral choices, it will be “difficult” voting this November. Without any major candidates calling for a ceasefire, in Wyoming or nationally, she may vote third party.

“I'm really basing it off of who condemns [this] like a genocide.” said Carry.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.
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