Atlanta Police estimated about 500 people participated, with around 250 standing on either side of Marietta Street outside the Atlanta headquarters of CNN.
A document handed out by organizers of the pro-Palestine group said the protest was scheduled as part of Al-Quds Day, a day of solidarity with Palestinians that Arabs traditionally observe on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Al-Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem.
Demonstrators supporting the Palestinians chanted “shame on you” and held large banners that read “End U.S. Funding for Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
Muhamed Abdulrahim of Atlanta stood on the Palestine side of the street and held a red rose as he joined the crowd chanting “free Palestine.” He said the event was intended to catch the attention of tourists and office workers passing on a warm summer afternoon.
“We cannot sit home and do nothing,” Abdulrahim, 47, said. “At least if we come here, people will see us and pay attention to what’s happening in Gaza.”
Supporters of Israel held the country’s blue and white flags and chanted “no more human shields,” a reference to Israel’s contention that Palestinian leaders have intentionally placed civilians in harm’s way.
Elad Cohen, a 32-year-old native of Jerusalem who said he’s lived in Atlanta for nine years, stood on the Israel side of the street. He wore a white T-shirt with the words “ATL stands with Israel” across his chest and said the counter-protest was organized by social media. Cohen said he has friends and a brother-in-law fighting as soldiers in Gaza and came to support them.
“You ask anyone here, they will say it’s about those soldiers,” he said.
Atlanta police officers stood on the sidewalks behind the demonstrators while others directed pedestrian traffic around the large protests. No injuries or arrests were reported.