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Minnesota: Continued occupation for Palestine at Hamline University

By Kim DeFranco

Students at Hamline University continue their student occupation. | Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco

St. Paul, MN – As of April 27, Hamline Students for Justice (HSJ) continue their occupation for Palestine inside the administration building on campus. The students sent out a call to supporters to join them throughout the day. Students and community members heeded the call and came with Palestinian flags, signs, blankets, food and tents.

Midafternoon, the students started their rally with an introductory chant, “Hamline, Hamline you’re a liar, we demand a ceasefire! Israel bombs, Hamline pays. How many kids did you kill today?”

The organizers welcomed everyone and thanked them for their support. Students spent a lot of time chanting amongst speeches.

Students sat on the steps of the Old Main building holding signs or banging with plastic tubes on the concrete walls chanting, “Resistance is justified, when people are occupied! Resistance is justified when there is a genocide.”

A speak-out started with a student group called the Hamline University Anthro Society reading from their statement, “As students of anthropology, it is our duty to not only understand but to actively work against colonization and the genocide of innocent people. As the board of The Hamline Anthropology Society, we stand with the people of Palestine and call for a ceasefire in the name of peace.”

Wyatt Miller, member of Anti-War Committee-Twin Cities, saluted the students for their courage and related to the student uprisings in 1970s against the U.S. invasion of Cambodia as part of the growing war in Vietnam under President Nixon, stating “In May, it will be the 54th anniversary of the students killed at Kent State in Ohio and Jackson State, a historically black University in Jackson, Mississippi – killed for participating in anti-war protests. This was an unprecedented mobilization of students taking over buildings, occupying campuses, blocking roads, and all the things that people are doing now. It helped to turn the tide politically towards the National Liberation Front in Vietnam and against the U.S. involvement in the war. What the students are leading here now is absolutely in the same tradition and can have the same impact. We have to keep fighting!”

Throughout the day, passersby not only heard the chanting but also saw the building was covered with and surrounded by signs reading “Let Gaza live,” “34x dead in Gaza,” “End aid to Israel,” and “Anti-Zionism does not equal antisemitism.” The lawn was filled with over 100 people, including students from Hamline and other college campuses within the city, neighbors, families who brought their children, and Hamline professors.

Students continued with a call and response chants, “Money for schools, money for water! Put an end to Israel’s slaughter!” and “We want justice you say how? End the siege on Gaza now!”

Hamline University is a progressive college with a diverse student body and the professors are proud of the students for taking a stand. Kristina Deffenbacher, an English professor at Hamline University who showed up to support the students, stated, “What is happening now is horrific. However, we are proud of the students for being out here.”

Richard Pelster-Wiebe, a creative writing professor, also stated he supported the students, “It's really fantastic that our students have the kind of courage, creativity and determination to figure out how to make this issue be recognized. It would be one thing for them to be on the quiet corner of campus on one of these manicured lawns with signs, which would be great, but the fact that they're in there sitting in the provost's office really sends a message. I think that's wonderful.”

In the evening, the students announced the administration will have a meeting with them on Monday to discuss their demands. One of the student organizers of the occupation explained the new development, stating, “The administration would meet with us if we left the building. It is a calculated risk and the people inside the building ultimately had the say if the occupation would continue.” She continued, “They left the building; however, we would continue the encampment outside, and we will continue to do so until our demands are met.”

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