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New Orleans: Rally at court house for Tulane-Loyola encampment protesters

By Blu DiMarco

Crowd supporting pro-Palestine protesters in front of Criminal District Court

New Orleans, LA- On Friday, May 31, dozens of community members rallied in front of the Criminal District Court in New Orleans to defend those arrested at the Tulane and Loyola Popular University for participation in the Gaza encampment.

Several organizations across the city attended this rally to flood the courts for the arraignment. People spoke of the unjust arrests that took place during a police raid at the Popular University for Gaza, established by Loyola and Tulane University students.

“More and more people are waking up to the reality we live in, that is, no one is going to save us. This monopoly capitalist hell that we live in is not sustainable. A better way is possible,” said Juleea Berthelot, a student at Loyola University and president of Loyola Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). “The camp was a very material part of this ongoing struggle. It was beautiful and chaotic, and scary, and wonderful. And while it no longer exists in a material way, what remains is a movement that is stronger than ever,” Berthelot added.

Palestinian community members also rallied in support of the arrestees. “We are not afraid because we have the truth at our backs. That truth will set us all free. Palestinians and our allies alike, within our lifetime, Inshallah,” said a member of the New Orleans Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM). “How many of you continue to stand tall, while facing fake charges from our political opponents, fascist courts of injustice. Your upright behavior has exposed, once again, that the police as an institution do not exist to protect people. What do they exist to protect? Property. Capital. Exactly, this is capitalism.”

The crowd chanted “All the chains have been broken. Prison gates will fly open!” and “Not guilty, not sorry!” Those rallying loudly chanted towards the court, letting them know that this fight is not over. “One! We are the people. Two! We won’t stop fighting. Drop the charges, now, now, now!”

Speakers and members identified the necessity of escalation and the importance of the Palestinian armed resistance for the liberation of Palestine. They addressed the fact that, in recent weeks, multiple states and countries have finally recognized the statehood of Palestine.

“The resistance has changed the course of our future. Palestine will not be free without armed resistance and without our support in the United States of the armed resistance,” said Shreyas Vasudevan, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO).

At the end of the rally, Rory MacDonald of Tulane SDS announced that the courts informed arrestees – one hour before the scheduled appearance – that their court date had been moved to July 30 and that they did not need to attend. District Attorney Jason Williams pushed back the court date to the final day possible to accept the charges. “Why did Jason Williams do this? Because he has no case,” said MacDonald.

Tulane University has suspended the chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Loyola University is targeting student organizers with harsh punishments and attempting to quietly charge students.

New Orleanians across the city are rallying with students and organizers alike to publicize these issues, wielding the rallying cry: “Protesting is not a crime!” #NewOrleansLA #SDS #Loyola #Tulane #PopularUniversityForGaza