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What's behind the red pins celebrities wore at the Oscars

Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell wear pins in support of a cease-fire in Gaza while they attend the 96th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday Hollywood, Calif.
JC Olivera
/
Getty Images
Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell wear pins in support of a cease-fire in Gaza while they attend the 96th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday Hollywood, Calif.

Awards shows have long been a stage for political expression, and this year's Oscars was no exception.

A notable accessory on Sunday's red carpet was a red pin featuring a hand with a black heart in the middle. Celebrities like Billie Eilish, Ramy Youssef and Mark Ruffalo wore the pins in support of Artists4Ceasefire, a group of advocates and artists that opposes the Israel-Hamas war.

"The pin symbolizes collective support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all of the hostages and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza," the group said in a statement.

The group's website features an open letter to President Biden and members of Congress calling for immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Gaza. The war started after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and captured about 240 hostages, according to the Israeli government. Since then, Israel's military operations have killed more than 30,000 Palestiniansand displaced about 2 million people in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Israeli government currently opposes a cease-fire; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said "[Israel's] security and the future of the Middle East require total victory" over Hamas.

Other Oscar attendees who wore the pin include actor Mahershala Ali and director Ava DuVernay. Last month, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker of the band Boygenius wore the same pins at the Grammy Awards.

A full list of the more than 400 artists who have signed the letter supporting an immediate cease-fire can be found on Artists4Ceasefire's website.

"It's a universal message of, 'Let's stop killing kids. Let's not be part of more war.' No one has ever looked back at war and thought a bombing campaign was a good idea," actor Youssefsaid in an interview with Variety. "To be surrounded by so many artists who are willing to lend their voices, the list is growing. A lot of people are going to be wearing these pins tonight. There's a lot of talking heads on the news, this is a space of talking hearts."

Protesters holding signs like "No awards for genocide" shut down traffic around the Dolby Theater where the awards ceremony took place. The gridlock delayed some red carpet arrivals as well as the ceremony itself.

"We're late," actor Ruffalo said as he raced down the red carpet. "The Palestinian protest just shut down the Oscars tonight. Humanity wins!"

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 14, 2024 at 10:00 PM MDT
This story has been updated to include attributions for the death toll figures in the Israel-Hamas war and an explanation of Israel's opposition to a ceasefire.
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