Anti-Israeli Protesters Burn American Flag, Vandalize WWI Memorial and Spray Paint 'Gaza' on Base after Cops Block Group from Met Gala in NYC

Some protesters climbed onto the infantrymen statues and waved Palestinian flags or placed them over the figures.

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Anti-Israel protesters vandalized a World War I memorial in Central Park on Monday and set fire to an American flag after being stopped by police from reaching the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the Met Gala was taking place with numerous celebrities in attendance.

At least one vandal, expressing anti-American sentiment, set fire to the American flag at the site of the 107th Infantry Memorial. The base of the memorial was also marked with graffiti bearing the word "Gaza" in prominent black letters. Other protesters plastered stickers depicting the Palestinian flag onto the bronze soldiers of the statue, with messages that read, "Stop the Genocide. End the apartheid. Free Palestine."

Burning the Star and Stripes

The protesters, part of a gathering of around 1,000 people-- also placed Palestinian flags on the 107th Infantry memorial located at the corner of East 67th Street and Fifth Avenue. The act of vandalism occurred during a "day of rage" protest, where participants showed no regard for the significance of the Stars & Stripes or the historical importance of the war memorial.

Some protesters climbed onto the infantrymen statues and waved Palestinian flags or placed them over the figures.

The chaos near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street ensued with no police presence as law enforcement had mobilized about 15 blocks north at the Met Gala to prevent any disruption by anti-Israel protesters.

Anti-Israeli protesters damaging WWI memorial at NYC during their attempt to storm Met Gala X

Meanwhile, another monument in Central Park, the bronze statue of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman in Grand Army Plaza, was also targeted.

"Free Gaza" was spray-painted in red letters on the base of the memorial, and a Palestinian flag was attached to its front.

Earlier in the evening, around two dozen anti-Israel protesters were arrested near Madison Avenue and East 83rd Street as a large group of demonstrators marched from Hunter College toward the Met Gala, according to police reports.

The crowd, participating in a "Day of Rage" protest organized by the Palestinian activist group Within Our Lifetime, moved north on Fifth Avenue, disrupting traffic as they went.

Police halted their march at the East 79th Street Transverse in Central Park. Chanting slogans like "Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest," the group waved Palestinian flags and wore keffiyeh face coverings.

A Day of Rage

Despite their intentions to target the high-profile event, the demonstrators were unable to reach the iconic art museum. Police successfully redirected the crowd into Central Park and blocked the exits, leaving them at a standstill and uncertain about their next move.

Anti-Israeli protesters
Anti-Israeli protesters burnt the American flag at NYC during their attempt to storm Met Gala X

"This is an exercise in futility at this point. There's nowhere for them to go," a cop trying to corral the crowd was heard telling his partner.

The protesters moved out of the park and came within sight of the Met, but were met with a blockade formed by dozens of police officers, standing two deep, which prevented them from advancing northward.

"Is that the Met?" one protester asked a friend. "Oh no, we were so close."

The group tried to reach the museum once again by turning onto East 81st Street but encountered further police barricades at the intersection with Madison Avenue.

Shortly after, police confronted the protesters three blocks uptown and began making about two dozen arrests. Witnesses saw officers tackling at least one woman to the ground, while someone in the crowd threw a water bottle at the police.

Earlier in the evening, a group of pro-Israel supporters gathered at Hunter College, appearing to confront individuals whom they accused of "supporting terrorism."

This article was first published on May 7, 2024