Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

MN students demand freedom for Palestine

By Yossi Aharoni

Students march for Palestine in Minneapolis. | Fight Back! News/Ashley Taylor- Gouge

Minneapolis, MN – On April 20, on a brisk spring afternoon, over 350 pro-Palestine demonstrators rallied at Bryant Square Park in the Minneapolis Uptown neighborhood for the first large scale march initiated by the Minnesota chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Arab Student Association at the U of MN.

The event was titled “Sumud Across Generations.” Students and educators, young and old, all came out in a show of support with the cause of Palestinian resistance as the world enters its seventh month of the Israeli genocide in Gaza. Chanters and speakers, some who have never spoken publicly before, got on the mic with tears in their eyes and offered their heartfelt and heartbroken solidarity.

“Sumud” in Arabic means “steadfast perseverance.” It is both a cultural Palestinian value and a political strategy that emerged in the wake of the 1967 war as a consequence of the brutal Israeli occupation and the Palestinian resistance it inspired.

To date, Israel has killed some 35,000 people in Gaza since October 7, the vast majority civilians, with current estimates of 16,000 children killed by Israeli air strikes, and several thousand unaccounted-for civilians trapped in rubble and assumed dead. As the world reels from the news of the many Flour Massacres and the brutality of the Al Shifa Massacre, Minnesota students came to mourn the dead and pray for a better future and a free Palestine from the river to the sea.

The rally began with chants and two powerful speeches. The first speech was by a member of Law Students for a Free Palestine, who stated “As a Palestinian born and raised in Gaza, I’m here to say that we share and feel your pain. Growing up in Gaza, I lived through the massacres that took place during 2008, 2012 and 2014. Since then and throughout this ongoing genocide, the content we see on our screens doesn’t even begin to show one percent the pain and suffering the people of Gaza live on a daily. On behalf of all Palestinians, I’m here to see that we feel your pain.”

After a few more minutes of chants by the powerful Sabry Wazwaz, the march began to head west and eventually toward Lake Street, one of the busiest and most visible arteries in Uptown. Upon taking Lake Street many onlookers honked in support of the message while many many people going about their lives immediately stopped what they were doing to join the march. A family even opened their front window and began waving their Palestine flag for the march. The march stopped and held space at the Bryant and Lake Street intersection. This ground all eastbound traffic in Uptown, including public transit, to a dead halt, to tell the city of Minneapolis that as long as the genocide continues the people will not allow there to be business as usual.

At the Bryant/Lake intersection a young speaker from Students For Justice in Palestine got on the mic and stated, “At Columbia University this week, students created a Gaza Solidarity encampment inspired by a similar movement on campus in 1968 protesting the universities complicity in the Vietnam War and imminent construction of a segregated gymnasium. The demands included full transparency of the university’s financial investments and full divestment from all companies and institutions from Israeli apartheid, genocide and occupation in Palestine. After 34 hours, over 100 students were forcibly arrested by the NYPD. In response hundreds more students gathered on campus in solidarity, they are still there now! Bernard College has suspended multiple students for organizing this protest, including Ilhan Omar’s own daughter.”

The speaker continued, “As news of this protest spread, multiple other groups across the nation started their own Gaza Solidarity encampments on their own campuses, including Yale. As these events unfold across the nation we must stand in solidarity with these groups as they put their bodies on the line. It is student movements like these that multiple decades from now will be considered as critical watershed moments that turned the tide, we are living that moment now.”

#MinneapolisMN #TwinCitiesMN #MN #AntiWarMovement #StudentMovement #International #MiddleEast #Palestine #SJP #SDS #MSA