Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Atlanta-Israel police exchange program under fire at Georgia State University march

By staff

Protesters march against police collaboration with Israeli occupation forces

Atlanta, GA – Over 150 students from Georgia State University and members of the broader Atlanta community converged in Hurt Park downtown Friday, May 3, in a protest against the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Of primary focus were calls for the end of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program, which promotes reciprocal training between Georgia police and Israeli occupation forces, with a particular focus on urban warfare and control of crowds.

The GILEE program at Georgia State University (GSU), funded as a nonprofit through the university foundation, has drawn widespread criticism from activists for its officer exchanges between the U.S. and Israel. Under the auspices of “international cooperation,” police from Georgia and other parts of the United States train alongside the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in brutal crowd control techniques and use of force against protesters. This criticism has intensified amid broader condemnations of U.S. support for Israel’s ongoing genocidal war in Gaza.

The protest drew active participation from a range of groups including GSU Students for Justice in Palestine, Black Alliance for Peace Atlanta, Dissenters, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, and the Atlanta Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

Erica Kadel of the Atlanta Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression opened the protest with a fiery address to the crowd. Kadel was one of the 28 people arrested by police at Emory University on April 25 while protesting the genocide in Gaza. Energizing the crowd with the chant, “From Palestine to Emory, stop the U.S. war machine,” Kadel linked the struggle against local police militarization with global peace efforts.

“A lot of naysayers say that what we do here could not possibly have an impact in Palestine,” said Kadel. “We know how intimately linked our struggles here in Atlanta and in Palestine are – a prime example being the GILEE program. If people still don't get it, all you have to do is look at the videos, photos and statements coming from individuals and organizations in Gaza and the West Bank thanking the U.S. student encampments. In fact, Bisan Owda, a journalist in Gaza said, 'The voice of U.S. student encampments is louder than the bombs in Gaza,' and that should give us heart that what we do here matters.”

The protesters then marched through the largely urban-based university campus before arriving at the GSU complex that hosts the GILEE offices. There, Atlanta police blocked the crowd from getting close to the building and attacked them. Officers ripped signs and umbrellas out of people’s hands and threw objects forcefully into the crowd. Referring to the Atlanta Police Department, the crowd chanted during these attacks: “APD, KKK, IDF, They’re all the same!”

As the demonstration dispersed, student activists called for further protests at GSU in the coming days.

#AtlantaGA #GSU #GILEE #AAARPR #AtlantaAlliance