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General Union of Palestine Students Statement Regarding May 7th

by sfgups
The media has misrepresented what really happened on May 7th at the General Union of Palestine Students protest at SFSU. Here is a summary of what really happened.
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The Scene
· Police barricades were erected, creating an area where pro-Palestinian supporters were to be contained. This is not a tactic regularly used by the university. Several times, pro-Israel students have counter demonstrated at GUPS events, but never once have they been caged.
· Trashcans were taken off of campus in the area where the pro-Israel rally and the counter exhibit were to take place. Again, this is not a tactic the university has used during GUPS events. By removing the trashcans administration followed tactics used by anti-terrorism specialists around the world; succumbing to the stereotype of Arabs, Muslims and pro-Palestinians as aggressive terrorists that may cause a riot or plant a bomb. This form of racism should be considered intolerable.
· San Francisco Police Department forces were brought onto campus before the event even started to ensure the security of the pro-Israel rally attendees. Again during events held by pro-Palestinian students, off-campus Police forces have not been brought onto campus before events have even commenced. This makes it clear that SFSU administration considers the security of Pro-Israel supporters more important than pro-Palestinian supporters.

The Event
· 11:30 Pro-Palestinian students begin to set up their planned educational exhibit on the grass. This exhibit included, a mock refugee camp, a mock checkpoint, a mock massacre scene and several posters. Despite the cage, our intention was to go ahead with the event.

· 11:50 Pro-Israel supporters begin to flood Malcolm X plaza. Various reports of pro-Palestinians being called racist names begin to sporadically come in. Note: Racist slurs began to occur before their first speaker came on.

· 12:00 The first speakers at the pro-Israel rally began to talk. In an attempt to hear what they were saying pro-Palestinian supporters (inside the cage) lined up behind the barricade (100 feet away) from the stage. Pro-Israel supporters began to taunt and tease. Comments such as: "animals", "terrorists", "sand niggers", "camel jockeys", etc. were hurled in our direction. Pro-Palestinian supporters began to chant as a form of defense. Such chants, include "hey hey, ho ho the occupation has to go", "no justice, no peace", "stop US aid to Israel",
"Sharon:War Criminal". It became quite clear, that this was not a pro-peace rally.

· 12:30 Pro-Palestinian supporters abandoned the original plan because of the slurs aimed in their direction. Chants continued. Chanting is allowed by the university. Heated debates between the two sides began to occur. Although there may have been some arguments, several exchanges of ideas were made. By this point: pro-Palestinian students were yelled at and harassed. In addition to things mentioned earlier these are some other comments reported: "go fuck your camels", "Arab losers", "go back to your caves". The tense atmosphere on May 7th was initiated by the pro-Israel supporters.

· 1:20 At about 1:20 the rally began to wrap up. Pro-Israel supporters were escorted off of campus. We were let out of the cage. It should be noted that during this period students were prevented from walking freely on their own campus. Pro-Palestinian students were finally allowed into Malcolm X plaza. It was then that students noticed an Israeli flag hanging from the student union. The student union is for all students and hanging a flag from there is against school regulations. Many students didn't feel that the Israeli flag should be hung from the student union. The Israeli flag represents oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people. It was then that students began chanting "take it down, take it down". An administrator took down the flag, supporters cheered and dispersed shortly after. It did not seem as if the police were concerned about the developing situation as they did not tell people to move back or take out there batons as they do when they feel a confrontation is likely. No arrests were made.

The events of May 7th have fit into a continued pattern of discrimination perpetuated by the San Francisco State University Administration. They have made it extremely difficult for GUPS to reserve rooms, to hold events and to express ourselves freely. Other student groups on campus do not have to jump the hurdles GUPS has to when planning an event. We have been labeled and stereotyped as aggressive terrorists by our own administration. Instead of representing us, it seems as though they are working against us, trying to find any way to suppress our voices and the pro-Palestinian movement on campus. In lieu of the events on May 7th, President Corrigan has released a statement, that is one sided and unfair. He along with others on campus, in their attempts to suppress our voices and take away from the Palestinian movement, are attempting to label us anti-Semites and hate mongers. Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken. We stand firmly against anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism. We will not be intimidated by these politically motivated attacks on pro-Palestinian students.

It is time for the community to get involved and let President Corrigan and the SFSU administration know that their attempts to block free speech on campus will not be tolerated. Here are lists of demands we are making:
1. An apology from the administration for their treatment of pro-Palestinian students
2. Retraction of President Corrigan's letter attacking the counter demonstration
3. The establishment of an Arab and Muslim studies program to expand knowledge of the history of Arabs and Muslims. This is necessary in order to ensure Academic freedom on our campus and a fair and balanced course offering.
4. Administration must drop all disciplinary action against GUPS and pro-Palestinian demonstrators
5. In a post September 11th era, it should be a requirement that members of administration take a sensitivity training course. There has been and continues to be a severe backlash against Arab Americans and the administration should be sensitive to this, not take part in it.

Please send all letters/email to the following. Address everything to President Corrigan but CC it to everyone else on this list.

President Robert Corrigan
Corrigan [at]
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

J.E. Penny Saffold
Vice President, Student Affairs/Dean of Students
1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco CA 94132
psaffold [at]

Donna Cunningham
Judicial Affairs Officer
1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco CA 94132
drcunn [at]

University Dean, Human Relations
Ken Monteiro
1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco CA 94132
monteiro [at]

College of Ethnic Studies

Office of the Chancellor
California State University
401 Golden Shore
Long Beach, CA 90802

Senator Jackie Speier
400 South El Camino Real, Suite 630
San Mateo, CA 94402
Senator.speier [at]
§Chants heard at protest:
by sfgups
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Pro-Palestinian Supporters yelling:
Free Palestine (non racial, NOT Anti semetic chant)
End the occupation now (non racial, NOT Anti semetic chant)
Zionist off of campus now (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
No Justice, No Peace (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
Hay Hay Ho Ho the occupation's got to go (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
Israel is a racist state (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
Israel is a terrorist state (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
War criminal, Ariel Sharon (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
Stop US aid to Israel (non racial, NOT anti semetic chant)
Propaganda (repeated)

The moderator of the GUPS groups was calming the crowd down, telling them to relax, and to move back from police lines. He was also putting the crowd in order.

There were no chants that had anything to do with Anti Semetism, or any racial slurs, or any threatening remarks made towards the Pro Israeli students and supporters

Pro-Israeli Supporter yelling:
Supporter squaring up to fight with a Pro-Palestinian supporter
"We don't want peace" yelled by and Israeli women
"You're a pig" yelled by an Israeli supporter
"Killers………Terrorists" yelled by and elderly Israeli supporter
"Shut the fuck up" yelled by Pro-Israeli student
"Fuck you, you fucking pussy" yelled by the same student
Supporter towards the end of the rally insinuating a fight from behind the police

Campus Police:
Did not listen to police captain, by telling the officers to keep the peace. They left a heated discussion by an Israeli supporter, and a Palestinian supporter alone, and did not care to back them up, or to stop the discussion, even though told by students they would take care of it, they should have been the authorative figure.

Police did not make an attempt to keep the Israeli supporters 100 feet away from the Palestinian supporters, they let them get as close as two feet from each other until they started to move each side back.

Campus police would not allow Palestinian students and supporters into Malcolm X Plaza after the rally was over, or to go into the Caesar Chavez Student Center. Kept a human wall between the students and the Plaza.

Israeli flag was hanging on the Student Center wall, and was not supposed to be there in the first place. This is a diverse campus, and the flag should not have been on the Student Center wall. The Police did not attempt to tell the Israeli supporters to take it down, and provoked the Palestinian supporters to keep chanting "Take it down" until, they actually took it down. The police as well as the administration could of have prevented this from happening, if they simply told the Hillal students to take the flags down from the Student Center walls.

Dr. Bowmen, and Dr. Brown did not make any efforts as heads of Administration to stop the rowdiness of the Pro Israeli supporters. When they got close to the Palestinian supporters, they let them get close, when they saw people getting into heated debates and discussions, they did not push back the crowds that were forming. They sat back with their arms crossed, and just simply watched, as both crowds got out of hand.
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