Fresnans Pay $6.4 Million a Year to Fund War Crimes

Fresno Brown Berets at Fresno City Hall on May 16 calling for divestment and a ceasefire. Photo by Bob McCloskey
Fresno Brown Berets at Fresno City Hall on May 16 calling for divestment and a ceasefire. Photo by Bob McCloskey

On May 16, the Fresno Brown Berets held a press conference and demonstration in front of Fresno City Hall. They released the following statement:

Statement on Brown Beret and Allies Action during the Mayor’s FY2025 Budget Presentation

The Fresno and Central Valley Brown Berets along with other natives of Turtle Island [North America], community members and activists were united in a protest during the [Fresno] Mayor’s fiscal year 2025 budget presentation to express our unwavering support for the people of Palestine, Sudan, the Congo and other lands under occupation. We stand together to highlight the direct link between the funding of policing, militarism and state violence at the expense of the basic needs of people, both here in Fresno and across the globe.

We unequivocally reject the use of our tax dollars to support the genocide of Palestinian people by Israel. We are deeply troubled by our city council’s refusal to advocate for a ceasefire in Palestine. Our condemnation extends to those council members who have turned their backs on standing in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters, particularly during the Palestinian flag-raising ceremony. The Islamophobic and Zionist rhetoric championed by certain council members, notably Garry Bredefeld, along with Council President Annalisa Perea’s refusal to denounce such rhetoric, compels our strong rebuke. It is unacceptable that our community’s resources, the tax dollars of Fresnans, are being allocated to perpetrate occupation in Palestinian territories, while our council remains passive.

Furthermore, we draw attention to the potential for these funds to foster positive development within our own community here in Fresno rather than fueling conflict abroad. Through our taxes, Fresnans currently send over $6 million to Israel military aid. We call upon the Fresno City Council to prioritize investments in our community over funding the oppression of the Palestinian people.

We confront the illegal settler-colonial practices of the United States and its ally, Israel, with the following grievances:

  • Whereas Palestine and Turtle Island are both currently occupied by illegal colonial states.
  • Whereas the United States empire has committed genocide against the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and aided in genocide around the world.
  • Whereas the United States is directly supporting Israel’s genocide of Palestinians through taxpayer dollars, providing weapons and other military aid used in the destruction.
  • Whereas the United States refuses to hold [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu accountable for civilian casualties.
  • Whereas generations of indigenous people around the world have had their lands stolen by illegal colonial empires.

We demand:

  • The Fresno City Council divest from all companies doing business with Israel.
  • An immediate ceasefire in the occupied land of Palestine, with self-determination and equal rights granted to all Palestinians.
  • An end to the funding of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and Israel’s military campaigns in Palestine that are being supported by U.S. tax dollars.
  • An acknowledgment that Israel has attempted genocide against the Palestinian people.
  • Public support from Joe Biden and the U.S. UN ambassador that Palestine and Palestinians have a right to their land.
  • All stolen lands in Palestine and on Turtle Island to be returned to the indigenous peoples, whom they rightfully belong to.

Our points of unity:

  • Stand against U.S. imperialism, zionism and settler-colonialism.
  • Respect a diversity of tactics in the struggle for liberation and landback: We know that freedom is something we have to take for ourselves by any means necessary.
  • Reject taxpayer dollars being spent on militarism and war here in Fresno and abroad: We recognize and condemn the fact that just like state and federal taxpayer dollars are sent to Israel’s military aid, a majority of our taxpayer dollars locally continue to be usurped by [the] Israeli-trained Fresno [Police Department] and away from community needs.

Through our collective voice, we reaffirm our commitment to the struggle for freedom, justice and the right to self-determination for all oppressed peoples. Together, we stand strong in our conviction and purpose.

Local Funding of War Crimes

How much of the $3.8 billion in annual U.S. military funding do Fresnans pay through federal tax dollars? What community needs could be funded instead?

The $6,393,681 in annual federal tax dollars from Fresno to fund Israel’s weapons could instead fund

  • 760 households with public housing for a year
  • 2,224 children receiving free or low-cost healthcare
  • 69 elementary school teachers
  • 18,202 households with solar electricity produced for a year
  • 169 students with their loan debt canceled
  • 5,559,722 face masks for pandemics

City Hall Demonstration

“It’s easy for people to ignore [what’s happening in Gaza],” said Kyle Hunt, who attended the demonstration. “It’s happening somewhere out there. But, you don’t get to go ahead and turn a blind eye and act like it doesn’t matter. It will affect you before you realize it.

“What are you gonna do when it leaves there and comes here? [Will you be] silent then [like you are] silent now? At that point, you’re gonna be powerless.

“You’re going to be helpless because you did nothing before to try to stop it. You did nothing before to take action, so once you’re next, you’re gonna complain about it, but at that point you have no right to say [anything] because you didn’t do [anything]. At that point, you need to accept your consequences.”

Also at the demonstration was Aline Reed, president of the Fresno Freedom School, who said, “I’m out here to support. I want to protest the war that’s going on against the Palestinians, against the genocide. I think enough children have died. I think Rafah has been ravaged, and we need to do something now!”

As the attack on Gaza rages on, community members continue to “think globally and act locally.” La lucha continúa!


  • Bob McCloskey

    Bob McCloskey is an activist and a reporter for the Community Alliance newspaper. Contact him at

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