Detroit CP members and soccer fans show solidarity with Palestine

BY: Detroit Club, CPUSA| April 26, 2023
Detroit CP members and soccer fans show solidarity with Palestine


On March 25th, a contingent of activists raised Palestinian flags high over Keyworth Stadium during the Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) home opener. The demonstration of solidarity with Palestinians in Metro Detroit and abroad was organized by the Detroit Celtics Supporters Club in response to the Israeli government’s recent outlawing of the Palestinian flag, and the continued violent colonization of Palestine. The Detroit Celtics Supporters Club was joined by the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Detroit, Washtenaw and Metro Detroit Clubs of the Communist Party and others. The group passed out flyers and spoke with other soccer fans about the situation in Palestine. As the match went on through the sleet and snow, the participants braced the flags against the strong winds.

The Detroit Celtics Supporters Club

Sean Kelly is an organizer with the Detroit Celtic Supporters Club. Kelly has been a fan of the Celtic Football Club since he was a child. Formed by Irish immigrants in Scotland, the club has always voiced support for Irish Republicanism and other struggles of exploited and oppressed people around the world. Having fought their own struggle against British colonialism, many Irish feel a strong sense of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli colonialism. “[Soccer] has never been just about sports,” says Kelly. “For a majority of the world, it is a game of the working class — one in which the culture lends itself to be a canvas for political expression.”

The strong left-wing political current running through the Celtic Supporters was crucial to forming a club in Detroit. Kelly was always connected with other Celtic fans through the internet, but had long dreamed of creating a Celtics Supporters Club in Michigan. After living in Paris and joining the French Celtic Supporters Club, he returned to Detroit, determined to bring that same culture home. The Detroit Celtic Supporters Club has mostly received positive feedback for their displays of the Palestinian flag at Detroit City Football Club games. However, as the club has grown into a larger group that regularly flies a number of flags at DCFC games, they have encountered some opposition from supporters of Israeli colonialism and the Anti-Defamation League. They have previously had their banner censored at a game, and after the March 25th demonstration, they received an email from the Detroit City Football Club asking them to keep the flags from blocking people’s view of the game. Although Kelly feels that this is a pretty reasonable request, he notes that plenty of soccer fans fly flags at games and that “flags are only an issue when standing up for a persecuted minority.” He finished the interview by letting us know the Detroit Celtics Supporters Club will continue to show solidarity with Palestine and will not be deterred by negative reactions.

The Palestinian Youth Movement

We also spoke with an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM). The PYM is a transnational, grassroots organization of Palestinian and Arab diaspora living all over the world. Their work is broadly concentrated around base building, expanding political consciousness in the Arab community, confronting the colonization and occupation of Palestinian territories, and fighting for the liberation of Palestine.

The organizer we spoke with explained that institution building is an important aspect of their organizing. Southeast Michigan has been home to many Arab communities for generations. Building strong grassroots institutions in the community helps connect refugees, elders, youth, students, workers and businesses. This ensures that older movement leaders can pass the organizational knowledge and history down to the younger generation, and that the younger leaders can keep their elders in tune with the current struggle.

Students play a critical role in the PYM; inspired by the important revolutionary role of students in Palestine, the affiliated Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) work to confront the justification of occupation in educational institutions across the globe. Within the current system of financing higher education, many colleges in the U.S. openly profit from investments in companies linked to Israeli colonialism. Wayne State University’s SJP chapter recently sent a petition calling on the university to divest from Israel and led an effort in WSU’s Student Senate to issue a state of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Outside of the universities, the PYM in Michigan works to confront mass surveillance of their communities. Arab communities are heavily targeted by the Department of Homeland Security and subjected to constant surveillance and over-policing.

Land Day

During our conversation, the PYM organizer drew strong connections between the struggle of Palestinians and the struggle of Native Americans. March 30th is Land Day in Palestine. It commemorates the protests and strikes of 1976 over Israeli seizure of Palestinian land. At the heart of any struggle against colonialism is the question of who controls the land and how it is used. Land Day highlights Palestinian’s role as caretakers of the land. The organizer spoke about the systematic uprooting of olive trees by Israeli forces, degrading the natural environment, and destroying the livelihood of Palestinian farmers. They then drew a direct connection to the systematic eradication of Buffalo populations in North America by white colonists, as a direct attack on Native people’s source of food in order to drive them from the land.

“We struggle together and celebrate together”

A common theme of the demonstration at the DCFC match was the interconnected nature of the struggle against imperialism. “There is so much strength in recognizing that we struggle together,” said the PYM organizer. “We can fight the beast from different angles, and we should celebrate the wins we have together. We struggle together, and we also celebrate together. International solidarity is crucial for the liberation of Palestine and oppressed people around the world. There’s so much work we need to do, and in that, come at it with humility and understanding.” Of the Detroit Celtic Supporters effort, the PYM organizer said it was inspiring to see an independent group, in the face of pressure from the football club and Anti-Defamation League, consistently show up for Palestine.

Images: Palestinian solidarity activists at Keyworth Stadium for the March 25th Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) home opener by Detroit Celtic Supporters (Twitter); Ibid.; Detroit Celtic Supporters show solidarity with Palestine (Twitter)


Related Party Voices Articles

For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

Join Now

We are a political party of the working class, for the working class, with no corporate sponsors or billionaire backers. Join the generations of workers whose generosity and solidarity sustains the fight for justice.

Donate Now

CPUSA Mailbag

If you have any questions related to CPUSA, you can ask our experts
  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
  • AThanks for a great question, Conlan.  CPUSA stands for peace and international solidarity, and has a long history of involvement...
Read More
Ask a question
See all Answer