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Tallahassee students and community members stand with Palestine

By Sadie Carlson

Tallahassee residents hold candles and kneel in remembrance of the Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation. | Fight Back! News/Raghad Hamad

By Sadie Carlson and Tavyan Dorsey

Tallahassee, FL – On October 18, more than 350 community members and students protested at Cascades Park, marking the second demonstration for Palestine’s liberation in Florida’s capital city since the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7.

The rally began with chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” led by the event’s emcee and member of Tallahassee Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Elijah Ruby. In his opening speech, Ruby stated, “We are witnessing a holocaust in our lifetime of the Palestinian people.” He condemned Tallahassee city commissioners and FSU President Richard McCullough for not taking a stand for human rights.

The protest was led by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization in coalition with the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, Tallahassee Food Not Bombs, FSU Students for a Democratic Society, and FSU Students for Justice in Palestine.

Regina Joseph, communications director of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, connected the oppression of queer people, undocumented immigrants, and Black people in the U.S. to the oppression of Palestinians. Calling back to the George Floyd uprisings of 2020, she addressed that many of the police who brutalized anti-racist protesters were trained by the Israeli “Defense” Force (IDF).

“The same police officers that oppress Black people are the same police that are trained by the IDF. We cannot be free until all of us are free,” Joseph declared to the crowd.

Later in the evening, Ahmad Daraldik spoke from experience as a Palestinian who has lived under Israeli apartheid. During his tenure as president of the FSU Student Senate, Daraldik was harassed by state representatives and later removed from his position for speaking on these issues. In his speech, Daraldik stressed the urgency of the situation, stating that Israel is using “its occupational forces to destroy, erase and eradicate communities,” and “there is no more time to stand and watch, you must act!” Daraldik demanded that the U.S. end financial and military aid to the genocide of Palestinians by the Zionist entity known as Israel. Daraldik then led the crowd of hundreds in a moment of silence, as they knelt in honor of the Palestinian martyrs whose lives have been stolen.

Palestinians have been forcibly removed from their homes and driven to relocate to the Gaza Strip, which is often referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison, as 2.2 million people live within 140 square miles under horrific conditions. Through the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation, Palestine is fighting back against this oppression and for the liberation of its people.

Israel and its allies in western Europe and North America have retaliated with genocidal rhetoric and actions. The Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant referred to Palestinians as “human animals” in his statement announcing the shut-off of food, fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip. On October 17, the Israeli occupation forces launched a missile at a Gazan hospital, killing at least 500 patients and medical workers.

The president of FSU SDS, Joelle Nuñez, decried the lack of empathy for Palestinians by the university administration stating, “It’s shameful the way the media has dehumanized Palestinians. At FSU we are seeing the same rhetoric. Richard McCullough, president of FSU, sent a letter to the student body expressing his deepest condolences for Israelis but didn’t say a single word about the hundreds of children murdered by the state of Israel. There are eight or ten Zionist organizations at FSU and we are the only ones standing up for Palestine. At a vigil for Israel held on campus, speakers called Palestinians ‘barbarians.’ It is shameful that FSU chooses to celebrate the IDF yet dehumanizes Palestinians.”

Nuñez later expressed her confidence in the Palestinian freedom fighters, stating, “I believe that I will see a complete Palestinian victory in my lifetime!”

After the official speakers addressed the crowd, FRSO invited community members to share their stories and express their thoughts. Under candlelight, several Palestinians gave heart-wrenching accounts of their experiences, including one child, who highlighted the one-sided nature of the attacks against Gaza. “Some people say that we are starting the fight, but actually they are.”

Attendees of all ages and backgrounds chanted, waved flags and stood in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance.

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