Art, Activism, Updates: Mateo on Tou Ger Xiong, Nenookaasi, Palestine-Israel

This week’s edition covers stories 
from December 7th to December 13th, 2023.

Today’s issue is 700 words, a 5-minute read.

Mateo talks Hmong artist and activist Tou Ger Xiong, Camp Nenookaasi, updates on the Palestine-Israel conflict, and Edina Public Schools’ statement

Hey everyone, Mateo here. I hope your December is flowing smoothly. Holiday season is getting closer and closer, and I know I am ready! We’ve got a wide variety of news to share with you, from homeless encampments in Minneapolis, to protests in Edina, and Biden’s opinions on the  Israel-Palestine conflict, there is a lot to cover. 

First and foremost, the NewPrensa team would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Twin Cities Hmong artist and activist Tou Ger Xiong, who passed away in Colombia on Monday. In a tragic series of events, Xiong was kidnapped and murdered. He will be remembered for his activism, comedy, and storytelling ability.

Hmong artist and activist Tou Ger Xiong 📸 UPI News

Over the last few months, Minneapolis city officials have made decisions to clear homeless encampments around the city. Most recently, homeless encampments near Lake St and Nicollet Ave have been cleared. It seems that city officials have their eyes set on another encampment in South Minneapolis, Camp Nenookaasi. This encampment is located near Phillips Community Center, on 13th Ave and 23rd St. According to the camp’s Instagram account, the majority of the residents are Native. With housing options already extremely limited, forcing people out of functional camps like this one doesn’t seem like the right thing to do, especially with winter around the corner. But the city has final say, and they cite the common problems of drug abuse, theft, and violence as main reasons to terminate these living arrangements. As of today, they are planning on evicting residents on December 19th, but residents and advocates will continue fighting.

📸 CBS Minnesota

Since we last discussed the Palestine-Israel conflict, there have been many happenings on both a global and a local scale. On Tuesday night, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Overall, 153 countries voted in favor, 23 abstained, and 10 voted against it, including the US. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield cited the failure to condemn the Hamas attack on October 7th as a main reason, but said that the US agreed with certain aspects. The US and President Joe Biden have supported Israel in this conflict so far, but things could change. On Tuesday, Biden said that Israel is losing support due to their “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza, and that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should change, per Reuters. He also made the point that ultimately Israel “can’t say no” to a Palestinian state. These comments are a stark difference to his thorough support over the past two months, and it could be the result of a variety of factors. His team has expressed growing concern about the increasing number of Palestinian civilian deaths. There is immense pressure coming internally, with pro-Palestine protests happening around the country. 2024 is also an election year, and Biden could be seeing his polling numbers drop as a result of his support of Israel.

📸 Urva Jha

In Edina, they are dealing with their own set of issues that have arisen in relation to this conflict. In October, Edina Public Schools put out a statement acknowledging the stress and trauma students may have experienced when learning about the Hamas attacks on Israel, but never made any similar statement regarding Muslim students who may have similar feelings hearing about Palestine. In November, two Edina High School students were suspended for three days for chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” during a walkout in support of Palestine. This led to an official complaint filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, as representatives of the students state that these suspensions violate the students’ freedom of speech, and also constituted discrimination on the basis of religion and national origin (both students are Somali). As a result, protesters in support and against have shown up to the school board meetings to let their voice be heard. At the meeting earlier this week, the school board refused to hear from pro-Palestine protesters.

That’s all from me, we’ll see you next time.



Hi, friend: Mateo and Isabella here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day
and emanating star power 
by night!

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