Novi was the site of a protest last week honoring the death of a young woman who died March 16, 2003, supporting the Palestinians' right to a homeland.
A coalition of human rights, peace and justice, and religious groups sponsored two events in the area last week to mark the anniversary of the Israeli murder by bulldozer of Rachel Corrie of Olympia, Wash.
Corrie was 23 when she was crushed beneath a U.S.-made Caterpillar while trying to protect the home of Palestinians from being destroyed.
In Detroit, a film poetry, readings from Corrie's letters and talk by Noura Erakat, legal advocate from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, took place at Barth Hall last Wednesday
In Novi, protesters, including Hasan Newash, director of the Michigan Citizens for Palestinian Rights in Dearborn, gathered outside Michigan CAT headquarters on Novi Road last Thursday.
Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, was in Palestine as a volunteer peace activist when she was killed.
"We are exposing the actions of the Israelis against the Palestinian civilian population using the Caterpillar, which should be a product for farms and producing food," Newash said.
"Instead, it has been transformed into a war machine overseas. We invite Caterpillar to do something about it."
The Center for Constitutional Rights and partnering law firms filed a federal lawsuit against Illinois-based Caterpillar, Inc., last week on behalf of Corrie's parents.
The suit alleges that the company violated international and state law by providing specially designed bulldozers to Israeli Defense Forces that it knew would be used to demolish homes and endanger civilians.
"Even though it's been three years since her death, she's not been forgotten," said Kristine Currie of Grosse Pointe, an American who formerly lived in the Gaza Strip and Israel and is an advocate for Palestinians' right to a homeland.
"Her death has been a catalyst to keep us fighting for the rights of Palestinians," Currie said. "We do it in part in Rachel's memory but also for the rights of Palestinians. What greater way to honor someone than to keep alive the work that they were doing."
"As an American company, Michigan CAT strongly supports the protesters exercising their First Amendment right to free speech and free assembly," said Matt Zabiega, Michigan CAT spokesperson.
"Michigan CAT is not a division or a subsidiary of Caterpillar, but an independent, family-owned, authorized dealer of Caterpiller equipment.
"We do sympathize, however, with all of those affected by unrest in the Middle East."
Currie said more than 20,000 homes have been crushed or damaged in Palestine since the occupation began in 1948 when Israel declared its independence and began to push 700,000 Palestinians from their homes.
Pam Fleming is a staff writer for the Novi News. She can be reached at (248) 349-1700, ext. 105, or by e-mail at email@example.com.