On the anniversary of the murder of Rachel Corrie by Israeli Occupation Forces in 2003, Kevin Clark of the International Solidarity Movement and the Free Gaza Movement will speak at the monthly potluck of the End the Occupation group in Naperville. The topic of his presentation will be "My Unpaid Debt to Palestine" which will explore how his two trips to Palestine changed his life. He will share personal stories about his experiences, and the Palestinians that he worked with in the West Bank. He will also pay tribute to Rachel Corrie during his talk.
Kevin Clark is Midwest coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement and Chicago coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement (www.palsolidarity.org). He is an activist/organizer on the issue of Palestinian self-determination. His involvement in political issues began in the late 1960’s as a high school student during the Vietnam War and has continued until the present time.
During the anti-war movement in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Clark worked with the Nonviolent Training And Action Center as a nonviolent trainer. During 1968-1969, he was arrested several times for nonviolent civil disobedience. In July of 1970, he and three friends were arrested on federal charges for a nonviolent raid on the Pontiac, Illinois, office of the Selective Service office. As a result of that action, the “Pontiac 4” served one year in federal prison. Upon his release, Clark was hired as co-director of the Chicago chapter of Clergy And Laity Concerned. He remained in that position until 1976.
His involvement on the issue of Palestinian human rights and self-determination began through his work as a member of the Chicago Action Medical collective. As a street-medic, he and other members of CAM provided emergency medical and first aid coverage to the Palestinian contingent in the April 20, 2002, anti-war march in Washington, D.C. As a result of meeting and talking with members of the Palestinian community he was stuck by the similarities between the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, in which he was involved. After conversations with Chicago area Palestinians and fellow Palestine solidarity activists, he helped found Northwest Suburban SUSTAIN (Stop U.S. Tax-Funded Aid To Israel!) in August of 2002. His role as coordinator with the suburban human rights organization lead him to the decision to travel to Palestine as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement.
Clark spent almost all of January 2003 as an ISM volunteer in Nablus. During that time period, he participated in several acts of nonviolent resistance that included the removal of three roadblocks constructed by Israel Occupation Forces. He also served as a human rights monitor on a daily basis at Israeli checkpoints surrounding the city of 50,000. In the evenings, he stayed in the family home of suicide bomber to protect the home from illegal demolition by the Israeli military. During several street clashes, he assisted crews with the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.
In June of 2003, he and others founded the Chicago chapter of the International Solidarity Movement. The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and international activists that utilize nonviolent direct action tactics to challenge the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In late December of 2009, he returned to Palestine again to work as an ISM volunteer and to renew his relationships with old friends. Today he continues to work with both the International Solidarity Movement and the Free Gaza Movement.