Congressman Frost responds to pro-Palestine protestors at MadSoul music festival

(Photo by Connor Barry)

ORLANDO | Chanting could be heard from across Loch Haven Park, even over the sounds of music blasting from the stage speakers.

Hundreds of protesters marching around the fences of the MadSoul music festival March 2 carrying Palestinian flags and signs calling for action against Israel.

Some signs read, “Genocide is not self-defense,” “Israel is starving children,” “End U.S. aid to Israel” and “No business as usual.”

The crowd gathered at one end, in the parking lot for the Orlando Museum of Art where they could be heard from the main stage of the festival.

Palomino Blond, one of the many bands performing at the festival was still playing, but this was not enough to cover the chants from the protestors calling out, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “free free Palestine.”
The protest was part of an international march to call for a ceasefire in Palestine, this being the only participating march in Florida.

People of all ages participated, with many children even joining in on the chants.

In a video posted to X, a protestor wearing a mask colored with the Palestinian flag says, “The people supporting what’s over there support genocide, and we’re over here supporting liberation for Palestine.”

“My family this morning, lost my cousin. This morning as our representatives were getting ready to fundraise, to collect money, Palestinians are dying. Not only that, this genocide is being committed in our name, the Palestinians are being murder by bombs that are paid for or made in the United States. Even if the genocide stops right now tens of thousands of Palestinians would be killed because of the destruction and the devastation that the Israeli government has caused with the bombs that we paid for,” stated a protestor in another video from the protest posted to X.

Many of the protestors expressed frustration at Congressman Maxwell Frost, the festival’s organizer, and Congresswoman Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez, who was also in attendance.

During the protest, Frost went on stage to address the situation saying, “We’re going to continue to fight for a ceasefire… We support people’s right to protest, no matter where, and we encourage that to continue because we do need a ceasefire and we do need to save lives… It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter who you are. We need a ceasefire, and we need peace.”

Throughout the duration of the festival, after much of the crowd protesting left, many speakers and musical artists continued to voice support for Palestine and call for a ceasefire.

During the closing speeches of the event Winnie, a member of Swan of Orlando, took the stage moments after Frost to give a statement from Central Florida Queers for Palestine.

“The very same elected officials that put on this event have all come to party and be distracted by performative activism, are the same politicians who are remaining complicit in genocide,” said Winnie. “If it’s not free Palestine by any means, we don’t want to hear it! There is no reproductive rights without a free Palestine, there is no queer rights without a free Palestine!”

In a post on X, Winnie added, “Maxwell you did not sponsor Representative Omar’s Palestinian Rights Resolution. You did not sponsor the ban on sending precision guided bombs to Israel. You did not sign on recognizing the ongoing Nakba resolution. But you did vote yes on condemning Hamas, you voted yes on equating antisemitism to anti-Zionism, you voted yes on a resolution declaring that Israel is not an apartheid state, and most importantly you and AOC voted yes on affirming Israel’s right to exist and that denying that right is antisemitism.”

Winnie’s charged speech was followed up by cries from the audience calling out Frost and AOC, but the cries were quickly drowned out when headliner MUNA took the stage for the final performance.

This did not last long however, as midway through their set MUNA was interrupted by a group of protesters in the audience.

The protesters claimed to have had an altercation with event security and upon the band’s recognition of them, they called out to be let on stage to protest up there.

After being denied, the protestors were escorted out of the festival by security, chanting “Maxwell Frost you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” as they left.

In a statement shared with Watermark following the festival, Frost said “As someone who was out in the streets, got arrested, tear gassed and maced during the Black Lives Matter uprising – I got elected to Congress as an organizer and protestor at heart. Making your voice heard in any way possible is at the core of our democracy and I respect everyone’s right to fight for what they believe in. I’m currently the only member of Congress in the state of Florida calling for a ceasefire and thanked the ceasefire demonstrators that were outside the festival, from the stage. I’m proud to have hosted an impactful event that centered the arts and advocacy as we fight right-wing neo-fascism in the South. MadSoul is about connecting music to the issues that impact our lives.”

A representative from Frost’s team also said that despite the claims, event staff and security did not ever put their hands on the protestors.

The representative also said that the event had a no posters, banners or flags policy that the security was trying to enforce by asking the protesters to put them away, but the protesters refused.

The group was not forcefully removed and left of their own choice, according to the representative.

Upon exiting the festival, the group continued their protest outside the gates with police monitoring them.

Photos by Connor Barry.

More in News

See More