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Indybay Feature

Gaza Student Protest at GWU Continues to Grow

by Phil Pasquini
Students at GWU continue on with their protest and encampment as the university preppares to have them removed.
Students at GWU continue on with their protest and encampment as the university preppares to have them removed.
WASHINGTON (05-02) – “We are sick of seeing our country not just being complicit in genocide, but actively facilitating a genocide. And we know that we can’t trust politicians to liberate us, and we have to liberate ourselves. And so that’s what we’re here to do, is to take back, reclaim our power and work towards liberation” is how one Jewish student told this reporter on why she was participating in the ongoing Gaza student protest encampment at George Washington University. Unlike some others across the country, this protest has remained a peaceful and well-organized one with students making four demands on the university promising that they will stay as long as it takes to achieve their goals.

Specifically, they are calling on the university to “…drop all charges against pro-Palestine student organizers, to protect pro-Palestine speech on campus, divest from companies selling technology and weapons to Israel, and to end all academic partnerships with Zionist institutions.”

According to student activists, the university administration has not yet responded to any of their demands. Earlier in the week, however, the administration instead attempted to bring in the DC METRO Police to remove protesters from the University Yard where they have created their encampment. In refusing the request, the DC police maintained that the peaceful protest was the university’s responsibility.

It was announced today that a group of Zionists were planning a counter-protest just before noon to show their support for Israel. In anticipation of trouble, the METRO Police deployed numerous officers to the area while faculty members wearing “Faculty” signs created a line of defense blocking the street to deny the Zionists entry to the encampment.

As they have each day since the protest began, student leaders held a rally reaffirming their commitment in seeing the university fulfilling their demands and promising not to leave until they were met.

Some Jewish students, complaining about being harassed and feeling unsafe on campus, have demanded that the university immediately shut the protest down. Among the protesters are many Jewish students who do not feel that the campus is unsafe for them and one, speaking with this reporter, said that she was comfortable remaining there as long as it takes to achieve their goals.

The student, who preferred not to give her name, went on to say that instead of worrying about the campus protest, the university should instead take a moral stand in denouncing the genocide in Gaza immediate and begin divesting from companies that have profited from it. “We’re here for Palestinian liberation. We’re here because after 200 days of genocide and 76 years of military occupation, we’re fed up and we want to see an end to this quickly. “We are here, we are steadfast, we are principled, and we are going to be here at this encampment until our demands are met.”

Another Jewish student visiting from Georgetown University said she that she was lucky to be able to protest at a university when reflecting on the fact that there are “…no universities left standing in Gaza.”

While Congress has called for an emergency hearing next week to discuss the protest at GWU, two members today walked through the encampment to see for themselves what is taking place there. Representative Keith Self (R-TX) passed through earlier in the day and spoke briefly to a student protester who explained their position on Gaza and Palestine and called on him for his support. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) was also seen passing through.

Report and photos by Phil Pasquini

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