SPLC Attorney Suspected of Involvement in Illegal Pro-Palestine Rally
Investigations continue into the funding and support for a pro-Palestine rally that took place in front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, before protestors took to the streets and entered a House Office building, illegally demonstrating in the Cannon Rotunda. Capitol Police arrested the demonstrators en masse, with a local NBC affiliate reporting that “close to 300” people were in police custody as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Officially, the rally was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow (INN), with organizers claiming an attendance of 10,000.
Last year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which usually aligns with the American political Left, wrote that JVP “is a radical anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activist group” and “does not represent the mainstream Jewish community.” It also documented JVP’s history of anti-Semitism and support for violence. More recently, JVP blamed Hamas’s October 7 terror attack on “Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression.”
INN describes itself as “steeped both in left-wing protest and Jewish tradition.” It agitates for “Palestinian liberation” through “direct action” and often collaborates with JVP. “We cannot and will not say today’s actions by Palestinian militants are unprovoked,” INN stated on October 7. They “absolutely” condemned the killing of civilians but argued, “their blood is on the hands of the Israeli government, the U.S. government which funds and excuses their recklessness, and every international leader who continues to turn a blind eye ….”
Unofficially, however, the protest appeared to involve participants from other left-wing organizations.
The left-wing protestors came close enough to U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) that she was able to take pictures of the protestors’ phones. Several of the screen images she captured showed protestors coordinating via various messaging apps; several of the participants in the group messages had names similar to left-wing activists employed by other organizations.
At 2:31 p.m., Greene took a picture showing the screen of a protestor’s phone, open to a group message titled “Global Intifada.” The following exchange was visible:
Nico Lead Global Intifada: “Back of the Rally” (12:04 PM)
Rami Elamine: “Trying to find you.” (12:04 PM)
Amrita Wassan: “back right if u face the rally” (12:05 PM)
Katrina Bleckley: “Back of the rally next to the dirt path. Walk straight back from polish hot dog stand” (12:05 PM)
Tamira SUPPORT Global I: “If you haven’t given me your --------- cell please send …”
Green snapped several additional photos of the protestors’ phones showing internal communications. While these images did not reveal any new organizations — all the names belonged to members of JVP — they did give insight into the extensive level of planning and coordination that went into the protest. In a Signal conversation titled “All JVP staff,” JVP Executive Director Stefanie Fox inquired about “the text to action or petition code” the organization was using. In another Signal chat, JVP staffer and UNC School of Law J.D. candidate Emily Kaplan revealed the demonstrators in the Cannon Rotunda planned to be arrested, writing, “I’m inside and will get arrested.” Yet another group chat was titled, “Boston JVP Lobbying Group,” likely indicating that at least some protestors had traveled from seven hours away.
However, the most significant discovery in Greene photos of protestors’ phones was the name of SPLC lawyer Katrina Bleckley.
Townhall contributor John Hasson first connected the Katrina Bleckley in the “Global Intifada” group message with an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), noting, “Maybe a coincidence, but a Pro-Palestine lead attorney at the SPLC shares the same name.” A nationwide search by The Washington Stand was unable to discover any other person named “Katrina Bleckley.”
According to her LinkedIn account (now deleted), Bleckley (“she/her”) is a lead attorney at SPLC, and has been based in New Orleans, La. since May 2022. Before that, she worked as Executive Director and General Counsel of PLAG (Play Like A Girl), a “nonprofit dedicated to uplifting the voices of womxn, femmes, and nonbinary folx in the arts,” from 2016-2022. She graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University (a conservative Jewish school) with a J.D. in intellectual property law in 2011 and was admitted to the State Bar of California on January 3, 2012.
Based on her other listed experience, Bleckley was an entertainment lawyer and brand manager who became increasingly involved in providing immigration law services between 2015-2021. Bleckley wrote in 2019 that she focused only on her career until “the Muslim travel ban came down” and she became involved with “an ACLU lawsuit against Donald Trump.” From that point, she “started showing up at every immigration training and clinic that I could.” Since then, she had “provided pro bono representation to nearly twenty asylum seekers,” as of 2019.
The career switch, to focus on a cause rather than income, may have come at great personal cost to Bleckley. Los Angeles County Superior Court records indicate that in May 2018 an eviction order was entered against someone with the name Katrina Bleckley for a no-frills apartment blocks away from downtown Hollywood.
While Bleckley’s tweets are protected, her twitter bio includes the hashtag “#FreePalestine,” along with other descriptors, “migrant liberator / former rockstar wrangler / abolitionist.”
According to the National Conservative, on September 7, 2018, in response to a report that a 17-year-old Palestinian youth was shot by Israeli forces, she tweeted, “[four-letter-word] Israel. Free Palestine.” The Times of Israel reported at the time that 7,000 Palestinians had assembled at the border. “The Israeli military said demonstrators hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and other less lethal means. Troops fired at Palestinians who attempted to breach the border fence and enter Israel.”
In 2012, the SPLC’s “hate map” inspired a terrorist attack on Family Research Council, a pro-life, pro-family, Christian think tank in Washington, D.C., which publishes The Washington Stand. A lone gunman entered the organization’s building, intent on killing its staff, after he had found it listed on SPLC’s hate map because of its biblical advocacy for pro-family policies. He became the first person convicted under D.C.’s post-9/11 domestic terrorism law.
However, recent events appear to indicate that SPLC staff are taking a more direct role in left-wing direct action. Earlier this year, SPLC attorney Thomas Webb Jurgens was among 35 “violent agitators” arrested after more than one hundred broke into a police training facility construction site to destroy and vandalize equipment. The crowd launched “large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers,” according to a police statement. Jurgens claimed he was present as a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), a left-wing group that has provided “legal support for anti-fascist action.” Last month, Georgia authorities indicted 61 left-wing activists on racketeering charges, including Jurgens.
The other names in the “Global Intifada” message group, Rami El-Amine and Amrita Wassan, are also identical with those belonging to left-wing activists.
Hasson connected the name “Rami El-Amine” with a person who was editor of Left Turn magazine from 2009-2012, who covered “Islamophobia” during the Arab Spring era. His last article with Left Turn in February 2012 was titled, “The U.S., Israel, and the War on Iran: Don’t Let Them Fool Us Again!”
After 2012, El-Amine’s left-wing activism became less visible. However, in 2020 he wrote a piece in a pro-Palestine publication, Mondoweiss, criticizing the Abraham Accords. “The struggle for Palestine is inextricably linked to the struggle for democracy and against the authoritarian regimes in the region,” he wrote. “The reality on the ground will hopefully unite these factions and those in the Palestine solidarity movement internationally around the view of Israel as an apartheid state which needs to be boycotted, divested from, and sanctioned (BDS).”
Hasson also connected the name “Rami El-Amine” with a since-deleted Twitter account with a bio that read, “The politics of technology and the technology of politics. Islamophobia fighting, empire resisting, technology geek.” In December 2012, Politico photographed someone named “Rami Elamine” at a left-wing protest in front of the U.S. Capitol. He held an AFL-CIO that said, “no more tax cuts for the rich.” El-Amine is now an IT manager with the progressive think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and previously filled the same role at the progressive Urban Institute.
The name “Amrita Wassan” belongs to woman who identifies as non-binary and works for Movement Matters, a left-wing group “committed to values-based organizing and movement building that is intersectional, anti-oppression, anti-colonial, and anti-racist.” Movement Matters’ website is currently offline, but their staff page said earlier this year that Wassan “situates themself in the interstices between individual and collective liberation.” Her work apparently focuses on LGBT community-building through economic projects.
Wassan was also recently involved with the Center for Economic Democracy (CED) as Director of Education Programs. Influence Watch described CED as “a radical-left nonprofit in Boston that espouses local community economic control, favors certain racial and ethnic groups in hiring practices, espouses that capitalism is wrong, and wants to re-make the country post-capitalism.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center portrays itself as a disinterested arbiter of “hate” groups, and its hate-group designations have even been used by U.S. government entities. However, The Daily Signal’s Tyler O’Neil has recorded “a long pattern at the SPLC” of “branding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations ‘hate groups’” while refusing to list left-wing groups like Antifa, which are known for their aggressive, violent tactics.
On October 11, O’Neil reported that SPLC had not publicly condemned Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack on Israel, despite posting about other topics. While the SPLC has not condemned the terrorist attack, there are suspicions that their lawyer joined a protest against the attack’s victims.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.