NASCAR News: Anti-Israel Protesters Arrested After Disrupting Chicago Street Race
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NASCAR News: Anti-Israel Protesters Arrested After Disrupting Chicago Street Race

During the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 race in Chicago on July 7, 2024, two anti-Israel protesters were arrested inside the Chicago Street Race. The protesters, who voiced their opposition for about 40 minutes while chained to a fence, attacked Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The signage, including phrases like “(Pritzker): We Charge Genocide” and “Bombs for Gaza, Jails for Illinois,” was a sharp critique of Governor Pritzker’s financial ties to Israel and his stance on state spending. Demonstrators linked it to broader accusations of genocide in Palestine.

In a powerful statement, protest organizers spoke out against what they called an “agenda of genocide and mass incarceration” supported by various levels of the U.S. government. The criticism was not just aimed at politicians but extended to the organization of the NASCAR event itself. Protest organizers denounced the race as a platform for promoting Israeli nationalism, specifically highlighting NASCAR’s connection to Alon Day, the only Israeli driver on the track.

Alon Day’s Chevrolet Camaro was badly damaged in a crash during practice, which forced him out of the main race. Day’s car, intended as a tribute to Israeli hostages and soldiers, was decorated with an Israeli flag and Hebrew symbolism.

NASCAR News: Anti-Israel Protesters Arrested After Disrupting Chicago Street Race
Protesters are arrested by police officers before the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 race at Chicago Street Course on July 7, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. Two protesters were arrested on Chicago Street…

James Gilbert/Getty Images

Day commented on this as follows, quoted by Fox News:

“I think I’m more motivated than ever. I’ve won four times, the European Championships, and I’ve always done it for my own success. Like all of us, we’re human beings. We try to be the best we can. We try to win (champions) for ourselves.

“I think something in me (has changed) a little bit this time around — doing this not just for myself, but really for the country, for the hostages, for the (Israeli) soldiers, of course, for the Jewish community here in the United States — I’m motivated by something else, the war, the friends who are still hostages. That’s what really pushes me to do better.”

“The pro-Hamas protests in the streets, especially in the streets of Chicago, which are becoming really dangerous. I was there for a few days, a week ago, and I felt the need to check if I had anything on me that could identify me as a Jew. I mean, how bad does that look. It sounds like Germany in the ’30s, that I have to hide my Judaism.”

Protest organizers also demanded significant policy changes, calling on President Joe Biden to advocate for a permanent ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and end U.S. aid to Israel. These demands intricately link Illinois’ controversial budget allocation — particularly $900 million earmarked for new prisons — to the state’s leaders’ international policy positions.