Undelivered Gaza aid returns to Cyprus after aid workers killed

Undelivered Gaza aid returns to Cyprus after aid workers killed
A ship belonging to the Open Arms aid group and is one of three ships loaded with canned food destined to Gaza, has returned to the Cypriot port of Larnaca, Cyprus, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 04 April 2024
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Undelivered Gaza aid returns to Cyprus after aid workers killed

Undelivered Gaza aid returns to Cyprus after aid workers killed
  • Cyprus has offered to supplement aid getting in to Gaza by sea with a fast track on-island security screening process for aid overseen by Israel

LARNACA: A sea convoy of undelivered food for Gaza returned to Cyprus on Wednesday after aid workers of World Central Kitchen (WCK) were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Monday evening.
A cargo ship carrying 240 metric tons of food that had been destined for the people of the beseiged Palestinian enclave sailed back to Larnaca in Cyprus following the deadly attack, dropping anchor just outside the port.
A second ship, the Open Arms owned by a Spanish NGO working with WCK, arrived earlier.
The undelivered aid was part of a consignment of about 340 tons sent to Gaza from Cyprus on March 30. The aid workers killed in Gaza had just finished unloading 100 tons from a barge, also sent from Cyprus.
WCK, active in Gaza since October, has paused operations in the territory since the killings, and turned around its flotilla of ships back to Cyprus.
In March WCK launched an inaugural sea corridor transporting aid to the enclave from the east Mediterranean island.
Cyprus has offered to supplement aid getting in to Gaza by sea with a fast track on-island security screening process for aid overseen by Israel.
Spanish charity Open Arms, which provided a salvage vessel for both missions arranged by WCK, took a group photo of activists wearing WCK t-shirts and embracing each other on the bow of the salvage ship during its sail to Cyprus.
They wrote on X: “The end of mission 110 arrives, the one we never could have imagined, the most painful.
“We miss Saifeddin, Zomi, Damian, Jacob, John, Jim, and James, but they will remain forever in our memory, and we will continue to speak up for them, for the more than 32,500 people killed in #Gaza, the hundreds of humanitarian workers, the destroyed hospitals, journalists and all the ‘isolated cases’ that are not an accident, but part of an structure of death and destruction. We will never forget you.
“Today, the pain of the @wckitchen family is also ours.”

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Iran’s hard-line president still missing after likely helicopter crash in foggy, mountainous region

The helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan.
The helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan.
Updated 6 min 55 sec ago
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Iran’s hard-line president still missing after likely helicopter crash in foggy, mountainous region

The helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan.
  • Expressions of concern and offers to help came from abroad, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar and Turkiye, as well as from the European Union
  • Turkish drone footage suggesting the helicopter went down in the mountains

DUBAI: A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and other officials apparently crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday, sparking a massive rescue operation in a fog-shrouded forest as the public was urged to pray.
As the sun rose Monday, Raisi and the others on board remained missing more than 12 hours after the likely crash, with Turkish drone footage suggesting the helicopter went down in the mountains. Rescuers rushed to the site.
Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV said what it called a “hard landing” happened near Jolfa, a city on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran. Later, state TV put it farther east near the village of Uzi, but details remained contradictory.
Traveling with Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. One local government official used the word “crash,” but others referred to either a “hard landing” or an “incident.”
Neither IRNA nor state TV offered any information on Raisi’s condition in the hours afterward.
Early Monday morning, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness that they “suspected to be wreckage of helicopter.” The coordinates listed in the footage put the fire some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain.
Officials urged the public to pray for him. State TV aired images of hundreds of the faithful, some with their hands outstretched in supplication, praying at Imam Reza Shrine in the city of Mashhad, one of Shiite Islam’s holiest sites, as well as in Qom and other locations across the country. State television’s main channel aired the prayers nonstop.
In Tehran, a group of men kneeling on the side of the street clasped strands of prayer beads and watched a video of Raisi praying, some of them visibly weeping.
“If anything happens to him we’ll be heartbroken,” said one of the men, Mehdi Seyedi. ”May the prayers work and may he return to the arms of the nation safe and sound.”
In comments aired on state TV, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said: “The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog.”
“Various rescue teams are on their way to the region but because of the poor weather and fogginess it might take time for them to reach the helicopter.”
IRNA called the area a “forest” and the region is known to be mountainous as well. State TV aired images of SUVs racing through a wooded area and said they were being hampered by poor weather conditions, including heavy rain and wind. Rescuers could be seen walking in the fog and mist.
A rescue helicopter tried to reach the area where authorities believe Raisi’s helicopter was, but it couldn’t land due to heavy mist, emergency services spokesman Babak Yektaparast told IRNA. Late in the evening, Turkiye’s defense ministry announced that it had sent an unmanned arial vehicle and was preparing to send a helicopter with night vision capabilities to join the search-and-rescue efforts.
Long after the sun set, Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi acknowledged that “we are experiencing difficult and complicated conditions” in the search.
“It is the right of the people and the media to be aware of the latest news about the president’s helicopter accident, but considering the coordinates of the incident site and the weather conditions, there is ‘no’ new news whatsoever until now,” he wrote on the social platform X. “In these moments, patience, prayer and trust in relief groups are the way forward.”
Khamenei himself also urged the public to pray.
“We hope that God the Almighty returns the dear president and his colleagues in full health to the arms of the nation,” Khamenei said, drawing an “amen” from the worshipers he was addressing.
However, the supreme leader also stressed the business of Iran’s government would continue no matter what. Under the Iranian constitution, Iran’s vice first president takes over if the president dies with Khamenei’s assent, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days. First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber already had begun receiving calls from officials and foreign governments in Raisi’s absence, state media reported.
Raisi, 63, a hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, is viewed as a protégé of Khamenei and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after Khamenei’s death or resignation.
Raisi had been on the border with Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one that the two nations built on the Aras River. The visit came despite chilly relations between the two nations, including over a gun attack on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy views as its main enemy in the region.
Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. IRNA published images it described as Raisi taking off in what resembled a Bell helicopter, with a blue-and-white paint scheme previously seen in published photographs.
Raisi won Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Raisi is sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.
Under Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and hampers international inspections. Iran has armed Russia in its war on Ukraine, as well as launched a massive drone-and-missile attack on Israel amid its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It also has continued arming proxy groups in the Mideast, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, mass protests in the country have raged for years. The most recent involved the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had been earlier detained over allegedly not wearing a hijab, or headscarf, to the liking of authorities. The monthslong security crackdown that followed the demonstrations killed more than 500 people and saw over 22,000 detained.
In March, a United Nations investigative panel found that Iran was responsible for the “physical violence” that led to Amini’s death.
President Joe Biden was briefed by aides on the Iran crash, but administration officials have not learned much more than what is being reported publicly by Iran state media, said a senior administration official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.


Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title

Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title
Updated 25 min 8 sec ago
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Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title

Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title
  • The champions’ relentless surge to the finishing line has included 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa in early December
  • The Gunners, without a Premier League trophy since 2004, came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 but had to content themselves with second place for a second straight season

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester City created English football history on Sunday, beating West Ham 3-1 to win their fourth straight Premier League title and break Arsenal’s hearts as Jurgen Klopp made an emotional Liverpool exit.

Phil Foden scored two early goals — including one after 79 seconds — at an expectant Etihad to lay the foundations for City’s victory.

West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus pulled a goal back with a spectacular overhead kick to give Arsenal renewed hope but Rodri struck just before the hour mark to effectively wrap up the title.

The Gunners, without a Premier League trophy since 2004, came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 but had to content themselves with second place for a second straight season after they finished two points behind City’s tally of 91.

The champions’ relentless surge to the finishing line has included 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa in early December.

City, who have now won six titles in seven seasons, stand alone as the only English team to have won four straight top-flight titles, eclipsing the achievements of the great Liverpool and Manchester United teams of the past.

“When I moved here, if someone had said I would win six leagues in seven seasons I would say ‘You’re insane — no way’,” said City manager Pep Guardiola.

“All these players for Manchester United and Liverpool and Chelsea, all these teams. Now is our period. We are part of that.”

But while City have set new standards in English football, they remain under a cloud as a result of 115 Premier League charges for alleged financial irregularities, levelled early last year.

Elsewhere on the final day of the Premier League season, Luton’s relegation was confirmed with a 4-2 loss at home to Fulham. They will join Burnley and Sheffield United in the Championship next season.

Tottenham beat Sheffield United 3-0 to seal fifth spot and a place in next season’s Europa League while Chelsea guaranteed a sixth-place finish and European football with a 2-1 win against Bournemouth.

Newcastle’s 4-2 win at Brentford condemned Manchester United to an eighth-place finish — their lowest since 1990.

Erik ten Hag’s men, who beat Brighton 2-0 in Roberto De Zerbi’s last game in charge of the south coast club, have a chance to salvage something from a disastrous season in next week’s FA Cup final against City.

But if United lose that they will miss out on European football.

Foden, 23, has enjoyed his most impressive season yet for City, taking his tally to 27 goals in all competitions on Sunday, together with 11 assists.

The England midfielder opened the scoring on Sunday in the second minute with a vicious left-footed shot from outside the penalty area, settling nerves among the home fans. He then stroked the ball into the net in the 18th minute after an assist from Jeremy Doku.

The title race briefly came alive again when Takehiro Tomiyasu side-footed home to level for Arsenal at the Emirates before Kudus pulled one back for West Ham.

The atmosphere became more subdued at the Etihad but the visitors rarely threatened again in David Moyes’s final game in charge for the visitors and Rodri’s goal in the 59th minute ultimately made the game safe.

Kai Havertz’s late winner for Arsenal proved irrelevant.

Arteta gave a rousing speech to the fans in the immediate aftermath of the match, urging them to crave more.

“All this is happening because you started believing, you started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do,” he said.

“All the credit has to go to the players and the staff. Don’t be satisfied. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it.”

Klopp ended his Liverpool reign with a 2-0 win at home to Wolves but the match was merely a sideshow as the fans paid a warm tribute to a manager who has transformed the club since arriving in 2015.

“It doesn’t feel like an end,” the German told a packed Anfield. “It just feels like a start. Today I saw a football team play full of talent, youth, creativity, desire, greed.”

He added: “We have this wonderful stadium, training center and you — the superpower of world football. Wow.”


Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla
Updated 26 min 32 sec ago
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Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla
  • Schauffele: I told myself this is my opportunity — capture it
  • Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky: Xander Schauffele cashed in at just the right time Sunday, swirling in a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the PGA Championship for his first major with the lowest score in major championship history.

The Olympic gold medalist got something even more valuable in silver — that enormous Wanamaker Trophy after a wild week at Valhalla.

Schauffele closed with a 6-under 65 to beat Bryson DeChambeau, entertaining to the very end with a 10-foot birdie of his own on the par-5 18th for a 64.

Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one. And this took all he had.

He already had mud on his golf ball on two key holes along the back nine that kept him from attacking the flag. His drive on the 17th bounced back into a bunker, forcing him to scramble for par and stay tied with DeChambeau, who had finished two groups ahead of him. And then his tee shot rolled just far enough toward the edge of a bunker to present another problem.

Schauffele had to stand with his feet in the sand, gripping well down on the 4-iron, aiming out to the right and hoping for the best. He drilled a beauty, some 35 yards short but with a good angle. He pitched to 6 feet and was never closer to finally winning a major.

“I told myself this is my opportunity — capture it,” Schauffele said.

The putt broke just enough left to catch the left edge of the cup and swirled around before disappearing. Schauffele, who exudes California chill, raised both arms above his head with the biggest smile before a hard hug with Austin Kaiser, his caddie and former teammate at San Diego State.

DeChambeau was on the range, staying loose for a potential playoff, watching Schauffele from a large video board. He saw the winning putt fall, and walked all the way back to the 18th to join in with so many other players wanting to congratulate the 30-year-old.

“I gave it my all. I put as much effort as I possibly could into it and I knew that my B game would be enough,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just clearly somebody played incredibly well. Xander’s well deserving of a major championship.”

Viktor Hovland, the FedEx Cup champion who wasn’t sure he even belonged at Valhalla while trying to work his way out of a slump, also had a 10-foot putt after DeChambeau hit his to tie for the lead. He missed the birdie, then missed a meaningless par putt and shot 66 to finish third.

Schauffele, who began this championship with a 62 to tie the major championship record, finished at 21-under 263 with that winning birdie. That beats by one shot the major record previously shared by Brooks Koepka in the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive and Henrik Stenson in the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon.

And so ended another memorable week at Valhalla.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who arrived five days after the birth of his first child, was arrested and briefly jailed on Friday morning for not following directions of police investigating a fatal car crash involving a pedestrian an hour earlier.

He got out of jail and to the course in time to play the second round and shot 66. But it caught up with him on the weekend. Scheffler fell out of contention with a 73 on Saturday — his first round over par since last August. He closed with a 65 to tie for eighth.

Two players — Schauffele on Thursday and Shane Lowry on Saturday — tied the major record with a 62. Scoring records seemed to fall just about every day on a rain-softened course.

All that, and it came down to one putt that Schauffele will never forget.

“I really didn’t want to go into a playoff with Bryson,” he said.

In so many ways, this time was overdue. He had gone nearly two years since last winning at the Scottish Open. Schauffele had eight consecutive finishes in the top 20 at majors coming into Valhalla. He already had a pair of runner-up finishes and six top 5s.

And in the last two months alone, he lost 54-hole leads when he was chased down by Scheffler’s 64 at The Players Championship and by Rory McIlroy’s 65 last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The victory was his eighth on the PGA Tour — that doesn’t include his Olympic gold from the Tokyo Games in 2021. This one moves him to a career-best No. 2 in the world, still a long way from Scheffler but assuring Schauffele of qualifying for the US team in the Olympics.
 


Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid

Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid
Updated 27 min 44 sec ago
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Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid

Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid
  • Real Sociedad secured the last Europa League spot with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, who were left with a place in the Europa Conference League
  • Atletico Madrid will finish fourth after a 4-1 loss to midtable Osasuna at their Metropolitano stadium

MADRID: Barcelona routed Rayo Vallecano 3-0 to secure the lucrative second place in the Spanish league on Sunday, while champion Real Madrid drew 4-4 at Villarreal with Norway striker Alexander Sorloth scoring all four goals for the hosts.

There won’t be much left to fight for in the final round next weekend as Cadiz became the last team to be relegated after being held to a 0-0 draw at home against Las Palmas.

Real Sociedad secured the last Europa League spot with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, who were left with a place in the Europa Conference League.

Pedri scored twice and Robert Lewandowski once for Barcelona, who kept a four-point gap to Catalan rival Girona with a round to go. Girona won 3-1 at Valencia for their first-ever third place finish in the Spanish league. They had already clinched a Champions League place in advance.

Atletico Madrid will finish fourth after a 4-1 loss to midtable Osasuna at their Metropolitano stadium.

BARCELONA SECOND

Lewandowski scored in the third minute and Pedri added goals in the 72nd and 75th as Barcelona won for the fourth time in five matches to seal second place and a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Madrid and Copa del Rey finalists Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao also will play in the Super Cup next season.

The victory came a day after Xavi denied a slew of reports in Spanish media outlets that Barcelona’s leadership is considering firing the coach for having said that the club’s poor finances will impede it from competing with Madrid.

“The situation hasn’t changed,” Xavi said. “I imagine I’ll speak with the president tomorrow or the next day. We needed the win to secure second place and we did it.”

Some fans chanted in support of Xavi and against Laporta during Sunday’s match.

Rayo are in 16th place.

SORLOTH THRIVES

Sorloth scored once in the first half and three times in the second to give eighth-place Villarreal a draw against Madrid, who scored all of their goals before halftime.

Arda Guler scored twice and Joselu and Lucas Vázquez added a goal each for Madrid, which played with a mostly reserve squad as it continues to prepare for the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1 in London.

Madrid had clinched their 36th league title three rounds ago.

CADIZ DEMOTED

Cadiz needed a win against Las Palmas to avoid returning to the second division for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

Cadiz, coming off two consecutive victories, had a goal disallowed by video review for offside in the first half, and saw defender Victor Chust sent off with a straight red card in the 74th.

Cadiz had spent 14 straight seasons in the lower divisions — including seven years in the third tier — before making it to the top flight in 2020-21.

Almeria and Granada had already been relegated before Sunday’s games.

SOCIEDAD SIXTH

Sociedad sealed the final Europa League spot with the win against Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis.

Brais Mendez and Mikel Merino scored first-half goals for Sociedad, who won three of their last four games.

The other Europa League place had been secured by Athletic Bilbao, who beat 13th-place Sevilla 2-0.

In other results, 17th-place Mallorca drew 2-2 against last-place Almeria and Celta Vigo won 2-1 at second-to-last Granada.


Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too
Updated 51 min 30 sec ago
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Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too
  • “Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them,” Biden said as protesters called for end to war in Gaza and liberation of Palestinians
  • Biden also condemned Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants as he stepped up effort to reach out to Black constituents

ATLANTA: President Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of US students’ anguish over the Israel-Hamas war, telling graduates of historically Black Morehouse College that he heard their voices of protest and that scenes from the conflict in Gaza break his heart, too.

“I support peaceful nonviolent protest,” he told students at the all-male college, some of whom wore Palestinian scarves known as keffiyehs around their shoulders on top of their black graduation gowns. “Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them.”

Biden said there’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, “that’s why I’ve called for an immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting” and bring home hostages still being held by Hamas after its militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7. The president’s comments came near the end of a commencement address in which he also reflected on American democracy and his role in safeguarding it.
“It’s one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world,” Biden said. “There’s nothing easy about it. I know it angers and frustrates many of you, including my family. But most of all I know it breaks your heart. It breaks mine as well.”
To date, Biden had limited his public comments around the protests on US college campuses to upholding the right to peaceful protest.
The speech — and a separate one he gave later Sunday in Detroit — are part of a burst of outreach to Black constituents by the Democratic president, whose support among these voters has softened since their strong backing helped put him in the Oval Office.
Biden spent much of the approximately 30-minute speech focused on the problems at home. He condemned Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants and noted that the class of 2024 entered college during the COVID-19 pandemic and following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Biden said it was natural for them, and others, to wonder whether the democracy “you hear about actually works for you.”
“If Black men are being killed in the street. What is democracy?” he asked. “The trail of broken promises that still leave Black communities behind. What is democracy? If you have to be 10 times better than anyone else to get a fair shot.”
Anti-war protests have roiled America’s college campuses. Columbia University canceled its main commencement ceremony. At Morehouse, the announcement that Biden would be the commencement speaker drew some backlash among the faculty and those who oppose the president’s handling of the war. Some Morehouse alumni circulated an online letter condemning administrators for inviting Biden and solicited signatures to pressure Morehouse President David Thomas to rescind it.
The letter claimed that Biden’s approach to Israel amounted to support of genocide in Gaza and was out of step with the pacifism expressed by Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse’s most famous graduate.
The Hamas attack on southern Israel killed 1,200 people. Israel’s offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to health officials in the territory.
In the end, there were no disruptions of Morehouse’s commencement while applause for Biden mostly was subdued. At least seven graduates and one faculty member sat with their backs turned during Biden’s address, and another student draped himself in a Palestinian flag. Protesters near the ceremony carried signs that said “Free Palestine,” “Save the Children” and ”Ceasefire Now” as police on bikes kept watch.
On stage behind the president as he spoke, academics unfurled a Congolese flag. The African country has been mired in a civil war, and many racial justice advocates have called for greater attention to the conflict as well as American help in ending the violence.
During his speech, valedictorian DeAngelo Jeremiah Fletcher, of Chicago, said it was his duty to speak on the war in Gaza and recognize that both Palestinians and Israelis have suffered. He called for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.”
Graduate Kingsley John said, “the temperature on campus was expected given we had the president of the United States come and speak.” John said he stood “in solidarity” with his classmates and that Biden “seemed to be reflective and open to hear the feedback.”
Morehouse awarded Biden an honorary doctor of laws degree. After accepting the honor, he joked that, “I’m not going home” as chants of “four more years” broke out in the audience. Biden then flew to Detroit to address thousands attending the local NAACP chapter’s annual Freedom Fund dinner.
Georgia and Michigan are among a handful of states that will help decide November’s expected rematch between Biden and Trump. Biden narrowly won Georgia and Michigan in 2020 and he needs strong Black voter turnout in Atlanta and Detroit if he hopes to repeat in November.
Biden spent part of the past week reaching out to Black constituents. He highlighted key moments in the Civil Rights Movement, from the 70th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed racial segregation in public schools to the Little Rock Nine, who helped integrate a public school in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. He also met with members of the “Divine Nine” Black fraternities and sororities.
At the NAACP dinner, Biden told a largely Black crowd that numbered into the thousands that Trump wants to pardon those who were convicted of crimes during the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and calls them “patriots.” He suggested that Trump would not have been so kind had they been people of color.
“Let me ask you, what do you think he would’ve done on Jan. 6 if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol?” Biden asked. “What do you think? I can only imagine.”
The speech gave Biden a chance to reach thousands of people in Wayne County, which historically has voted overwhelmingly Democratic but has shown signs of resistance to his reelection bid.
The county also holds one of the largest Arab American populations in the nation, predominantly in the city of Dearborn. Leaders there were at the forefront of an “uncommitted” effort that received over 100,000 votes in the state’s Democratic primary and spread across the country.
A protest rally and march against Biden’s visit took place in Dearborn in the afternoon.
In Detroit, guests at the NAACP dinner were met by over 200 pro-Palestinian protesters outside the entrance to the convention center. They waved Palestinian flags, held signs calling for a ceasefire and chanted “free, free Palestine.”
“Until Joe Biden listens to his key constituents, he’s risking handing the presidency to Donald Trump,” said Lexi Zeidan, a protest leader who help spearhead a protest effort that resulted in over 100,000 people voting “uncommitted” in February’s Democratic primary.