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Pro-Palestine rally outside University of Central Florida graduation

By Marcus Polzer

Orlando, FL – On May 4, around 100 students gathered at the University of Central Florida (UCF) to demand their university open up their investment records and begin divesting from Israel and “merchants of death,” i.e. weapons manufacturers that profit from Israel’s genocide.

The rally took place at Memory Mall facing the Addition Financial Arena, where UCF was holding a graduation ceremony.

Graduates and attendees walking out of the commencement ceremony were met with the sight of student protesters. Many walking back to their cars stayed and chanted with the pro-Palestine demonstrators. Some of the chants consisted of “Whose school? Our school!” And “45,000 dead and you’re arresting kids instead,” referencing the over 2000 student protesters who have been arrested nationwide for pro-Palestinian activism.

Lamia Moukaddam, an organizer with Healing Our Homeland, explained to the crowd, “When you go and call this a war and not a genocide, that’s a lie and it’s murdering people,” elaborating on what the chant “Every time the media lies, a neighborhood in Gaza dies” means, since the mainstream Western media consistently portrays Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people as a war between two equal forces.

Tamara Yousef, an organizer with the UCF Divestment Coalition stated, “UCF’s investment portfolios are incredibly hidden and difficult to find. We want them to divest from these companies that we had to seriously search for to even find that they were partnering with.”

Despite some initial rain and the presence of nearly 100 police officers of varying departments surrounding the demonstration, the rally continued as planned without incident for over two hours. This event was created by the UCF Divestment Coalition in collaboration with UCF SDS, UCF YDSA, Florida Student Power, CFL Queers for Palestine, and Healing Our Homeland.

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