The letter, published on Monday by the Dream Defenders organization, is signed by actors Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson and Jesse Williams, musicians Tom Morello and Vic Mensa, NFL player Michael Bennett and activists including Cornel West, Alice Walker and Angela Davis.
“From Trayvon Martin to Muhammad Abu Khdeir and Kalief Browder to Ahed Tamimi – racism, state violence and mass incarceration have robbed our people of their childhoods and their futures,” the letter reads.
Tamimi, 17, whose trial began on Tuesday, was arrested in December for throwing rocks at and shoving and slapping IDF soldiers. She has been detained in an Israeli prison since her arrest.
The Dream Defenders is an activist organization associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and was founded in 2012 after the fatal shooting in Florida of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, by a neighborhood watch officer. Browder, an African-American from the Bronx, was accused in 2010, at age 16, of the theft of a backpack and its contents including a camera, $700, a credit card and an iPod. Browder was imprisoned for three years with time in solitary confinement. He was released when the case was found lacking in evidence. The main witness had left the United States. Two years after his release from prison, Browder committed suicide.
Last week the Supreme Court in Jerusalem upheld the murder convictions and life sentence of the killers of Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teen who was brutally murdered by three Jews in 2014.
“In the US, we know all too well what it’s like to be oppressed simply because you exist, because you refuse to give up your fight for freedom,” according to the letter. “Last year, a Dream Defenders delegation of artists traveled to Palestine to bear witness to life under Israel military occupation and met the Tamimi family in their village of Nabi Saleh. Songs and stories of struggle were shared, from the US to Palestine.”
In the letter, the organization called on US congressmen to push forward a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in November by Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor company. The bill, titled Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children, calls to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.”