WATERVILLE — Chants of “Free, free Palestine” echoed down Main Street as a group of protesters rallied Saturday afternoon in opposition to the war in Gaza.

A crowd of about 40 people began marching shortly after noontime, carrying signs, banners and flags demanding the U.S. stop funding Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

One such banner, held by activist Lisa Savage, read “Genocide is not self defense.” Wrapped around Savage’s neck was a keffiyeh, a traditional headscarf that has become associated with Palestinian resistance.

Savage said Saturday’s protest was not just in opposition to the United States’ support for the war in Gaza, but also to its role in the Russia-Ukraine war and other conflicts around the globe.

“Our demands include stopping military aid to Israel and stopping sending bombs to Ukraine,” Savage said. “Start spending money on people’s needs, not overseas spending on this military empire. We can’t afford it.”

The march started at Post Office Square, with protesters marching south to the Lockwood Hotel as people looked on from within the cafés, stores and restaurants along their route.


Pro-Palestine protesters gather and speak Saturday at Post Office Square after marching through downtown Waterville. Tusinski/Morning Sentinel

Some driving passed honked their horns in support of the protest, while others rolled down their windows and flung profanities at them.

“Israel bombs, USA pays, how many babies did you kill today?” the crowd chanted as it passed Castonguay Square.

“You (expletive) idiots don’t even know what you’re protesting!” a man shouted from his pickup truck.

Before protesters could reach the square, a woman ripped down a banner tied up at the corner of Main and Elm streets.

The woman, who gave her name as Lori Lee, said she opposed the war in Gaza as well as both the Palestinian and Israeli governments.

“I feel sorry for (the protesters),” Lee said. “I don’t want to see war. I believe in love.”


A protester followed Lee a couple blocks before retrieving the banner and hanging it back up as protesters gathered again at Post Office Square.

Though Saturday’s march included protesters of varying ages, a group of Colby College students calling itself “Colby Action for Palestine” demanded earlier this month that the school cut ties with Israel and divest from companies and interests that profit from its occupation of Palestine.

Colby President David A. Greene responded at the time by offering to meet with the protesters but said the school had “no intention” of meeting their demands.

A few days later, a group of about 200 Colby students and staff held a vigil for the roughly 34,500 Palestinians killed during Israel’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 raid that killed about 1,200 Israelis and resulted in around 250 being taken hostage, including some Americans.

A group of about 40 pro-Palestine demonstrators chant “Free, free Palestine!” as they march down Main Street on Saturday in opposition to the U.S. support for the war in Gaza. Photo courtesy of Justice Stevens

Unlike some protests in Massachusetts and New York, those in Maine have generally been small and peaceful.

Bruce Gagnon, a Brunswick resident who helped organize Saturday’s march, said the protest was just the latest in a series of demonstrations activists plan to hold around the state.

“We’re trying to get out and really hit as many corners of the state as possible,” Gagnon said. “We can reach more people, and especially now in the summertime. We plan to go to places where the tourists are hanging out to reach them as well.”

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