Pharrell Williams protest on track - BDS SA

Organisation says artist being targeted for his collaboration with Woolworths

Today's #PharrellProtest event all on track

21 September 2015

Following two court victories in the space of one week, activists and organisers are confident and excited for today’s joint #PharrellProtest. 

Logistics organised for today’s protest event include fencing, safety personnel and marshals, ambulances and medics, free trains, two shuttles (to assist elderly, pregnant woman and young children), volunteer cleaners, water sachets, neon glow-sticks, face-paint, cultural groups and artists (including award-wining artist Tumi Molekane), over 250 hand written #AreWithUs #BoycottWoolworths placards and 150 Palestinian flags.

Members of the community can be assured that this protest event is well organised, it is going ahead and we will do so in a lawful and dignified manner. 

Thousands of South Africans from all walks of life will gather today in a show of love and fearless activism in support of the people of Palestine. Attendance is expected from Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Pretoria, Port Shepstone, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Welkom as well as various other smaller South African towns. Various organizations including the NC4P, MJC, BDS SA, ANC, ANCYL, ANCWL, SACP, SASCO, COSAS, YCL SA, IPSA, SESKHONA, EE, UF, OSS, JVP, PSC, KZN PSF, Polokwane 4 BDS, UCT MSA, SJC, UWC PSF, AFP, KAIROS, COSATU (as well as various individual trade unions).

International mobilisation, mass protests, global boycotts and specifically the cultural and sports boycott against the oppressive and racist Apartheid system in South Africa were used as ways to mobilise huge pressure on the Apartheid regime in the 1980s, largely accelerating our struggle towards freedom.

It is in recognition of the militant and courageous internationalism of the 1980s that we take to the streets today in what will be a historic gathering - expected to be the largest protest event in South African history against any musician or artist. 

It will be a momentous step towards the maturing of the Palestinian-led international non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement (now in its 10th year). Specifically the protest event will highlight the consumer and cultural boycott of Israel.

Pharrell Williams has been targeted because of his deliberate and informed decision to collaborate with Woolworths. Woolworths is a company that maintains unjustifiable trade relations with Apartheid Israel and is the current target of the biggest consumer boycott campaign seen in South Africa since democracy.

Pharrell goes as far as describing Woolworths as a company that cares about where their products come from - while Palestinian life and land is usurped each time Woolworths unethically buys Israeli products stolen from Palestinians. Pharrell has also broken the cultural boycott of Israel by scheduling a performance in Israel in order, according to Israeli media, to “make Israelis happy.” And what of the happiness of Palestinians (and progressive peace-loving Israelis) who have called for a boycott of Israel, we ask Mr Williams?

If he is interested in making this a happier world Pharrell Williams can joing the non-violent BDS cultural boycott of Israel, cancelling his Israeli collaborations and joining the growing list of artists from Stevie Wonder to Lauryn Hill, Alice Walker, Roger Waters and others who have backed the non-violent BDS movement.

No violent, hate speech, anti-semitism, zionism or other any other racism will be tolerated at today’s protest event. We will have a zero-tolerance policy for any violations of the law, constitution or other agreements.

Let us celebrate the right to expression, assembly and our solidarity with all oppressed peoples of the world - from Palestine to Mitchells Plain, we are on a good journey to make this world a better place. Are you with us?

All members of the media are invited to cover the PharrellProtest event from 4pm outside the Main Entrance of Grand West Casino (Jakes Gerwel Drive), Parkwood, Cape Town.

Statement issued by Kwara Kekana on behalf of BDS South Africa and the National Coalition 4 Palestine, 21 September 2015