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State of the (Palestinian) State

Why did protesters disrupt the governor’s speech – in their own words

 · March 6, 2024
A protester turns as she is whisked outside by a police officer, Legislative Hall, Dover, Del. March 5, 2024 | R.E. Vanella

[Editors’ Note: Contributing Editor Jordan Howell and I were in Leg Hall Tuesday to observe the comings and goings on the day the governor was to deliver the State of the State speech. We were there, as we explained to our media colleagues in the press room beforehand, to cover secondary and tertiary stories. 

The local legacy press has dutifully told you what the governor said. As far as we were concerned, Gov. Carney’s remarks would be eerily similar to a corporate Chief Financial Officer giving a quarterly business update, and explaining why 50 of your colleagues were laid off.

As has been reported now, the address was disrupted at regular intervals by protesters drawing attention to the massacre in Gaza. Many in the audience and outside the House chamber were very confused. What was the purpose of this!?

While the Delaware Call doesn’t normally trade in press releases, the activists yesterday provided a clear and thorough statement and I think it’s a great explanation for yesterday’s action for those who care to understand it. So, why not let them tell you why they did it.

For me, I stand by what I wrote on October 31 of last year. It’s not complicated. —REV]


Dover, DE, 3/5/2024 – In President Biden’s home state, Delaware residents stood up and disrupted Governor Carney’s 2024 State of the State Address in protest of his support for Israel’s war on Gaza. 

A few minutes into the Governor’s speech, a woman stood up from the State House balcony and shouted, “What about the over 29,000 Palestinian lives, Governor Carney?”, until she was escorted out of the building by security.

Governor Carney continued his speech until the room was disturbed again by another woman shouting “Permanent ceasefire NOW!” The woman was also removed by security.

The State of the State was interrupted two more times by other activists, who shouted “Stop funding genocide!” and “No more money to Israel!”

Since October, Governor Carney has been quick to express solidarity with Israel.

On October 17, Governor Carney joined 17 other governors in signing a bipartisan letter expressing solidarity with Israel.

John Carney also ordered Delaware flags to be flown at half-mast between October 11 and October 13, “to honor those who have lost their lives due to recent violence in Israel.” 

“The Delaware flag remains raised when it comes to Palestinian lives”, said Dounya Ramadan of Wilmington, one of the activists who disrupted today’s address. “Governor Carney needs to speak up about the 29,000+ Palestinian lives murdered with our US taxpayer dollars. He is not listening to his constituents. In contrast to the leadership we’ve seen from the Wilmington city council, which passed a ceasefire resolution on November 16, Carney has repeatedly refused to acknowledge Palestinian lives and even the existence of Palestinians in his state.” 

Activists who disrupted the State of the State Address were quick to note that Delaware residents have friends and relatives in Gaza. Another disruptor, Maryam Rahmani of Newark, had this to say: 

My dearest friend is a doctor providing critical emergency care to wounded civilians at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza. He frequently calls Gaza “a house of horror and death”. My friend has been witnessing the brutal injuries and deaths of Palestinians for almost half a year and he, and all the medical staff in Gaza, are completely overwhelmed. I do not understand how anyone could say it is too much to ask that our governor stop supporting this genocide.

Al-Aqsa is the only hospital still operating in central Gaza. 

The activists also pointed to the role of Dover Air Force Base in facilitating the transfer of weapons to Israel. In December, Delaware Online reported that these transfers began as early as October 10. This, along with President Biden’s connection to the state, gives Delaware a principal role in the conflict.

“Delaware is President Biden’s home state and our politicians have a unique connection to him, said Daisy Rivers of Wilmington. “The Dover Air Force Base is a point of departure for weapons en route to Israel to be used to kill civilians in Gaza. Governor Carney has a responsibility to pressure Biden both to stop weapons shipments that are going through the Dover Air Force Base and to secure an immediate and permanent ceasefire, not a humanitarian pause.”

Activists also raised concerns about taxpayer money being used to finance these weapon shipments, arguing that such money should instead be spent on domestic issues:

“Rising inequality affects so many kids in Delaware. Wilmington has a child poverty rate of 41% and in some ZIP codes, it’s even higher. And here we are as a state, sending almost $10 million in taxes per year to fund apartheid and kill kids in Palestine”, said Zumana Noor of Newark

A report published in the Delaware Journal of Public Health last June calculated the child poverty rate in Wilmington at 41%. 

“That kind of money could go a long way in Delaware,” Noor continued. “It’s the same amount Governor Carney pledged towards desperately needed childcare programs at last year’s State of the State. We need to stop sending money to commit war crimes and genocide, and invest those funds in Delaware communities.”

About the Author

R.E. Vanella is the Coordinating Editor of the Delaware Call and the host of the Highlands Bunker podcast. He lives in the Forty Acres neighborhood in Wilmington with his wife. He is currently working on a book about the intersection of politics and cricket tentatively titled Thoughts from Silly Point. Read more from R.E. Vanella.