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Students and community return to Edina School Board meeting to protest repression of pro-Palestine students

By staff

Protest at Edina, Minnesota school board meeting against repression of pro-Palestine students. | Fight Back! News/Sophie Breen

Edina, MN – On January 8, more than 50 supporters of Edina students packed the school board meeting for the second time to express their concern about the political repression of pro-Palestine students. At their last meeting on December 11, 2023, the Edina school board adjourned their meeting instead of listening to the concerns of students and community members. The community returned, as promised, to demand an end to student repression.

Supporters demanded justice for a group of Muslim students that were targeted and suspended after participating in a walkout for Palestine at their school on October 26, 2023. School administrators punished the students for using the popular chant, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.”

Supporters of Palestinian liberation use this chant to call for a permanent end to Israeli apartheid and equal rights for all Palestinians. The demands expressed during the meeting included removal of any record of suspension or punishment from the students’ permanent records, investigation into the violence committed against these students during the walkout, and a formal apology from the administration for targeting their students’ first amendment rights. Speakers also demanded an end to the continued political repression of students, who have been told they can’t come to school wearing clothes with messages in support of Palestine or have Palestinian flags in school.

Sabry Wazwaz, a Palestinian member of the MN Anti-War Committee, addressed the board. “The students told the principal and staff that metal water bottles were thrown at them during the protest. That’s disgusting. What kind of board member does not protect their students? Who is the one that was violent? Those that simply said a chant that means everyone deserves equal rights? Or those that have thrown metal water bottles?”

Isaac Stets, a member of the MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee and a Minneapolis public school high school student, shamed the actions of the school administration. “There is no excuse for censoring opposition to genocide. There is no excuse for the precedent your actions set for political repression of students. This sets a precedent for censoring the political speech of students everywhere and creates an atmosphere in which students must fear speaking out against war crimes. This is a punch in the face to any student who speaks up against injustice in the way that our schools have pretended to teach us to do.”

Several other speakers addressed the board with powerful speeches calling for the school to correct this injustice, including members of organizations leading the struggle against U.S. aid to Israel, such as American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, the MN Council on American-Islamic Relations, and more.

At the end of public comment, supporters left the board meeting and rallied together outside to vow continued support for the students. They marched out of the building loudly chanting, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!”

This action was initiated by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) and endorsed by the Free Palestine Coalition.

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