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U of MN students demand divestment from Israel, hold die in inside student union

By Natalie Rath

Students hold die demanding the University of Minnesota divest from Israel. | Fight Back! News/staff

Minneapolis, Mn – On Monday February 19, University of Minnesota’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society gathered outside the U of M student union along with about 70 students, staff and faculty for a rally to demand divestment.

SDS’s main campaign right now is for the University of Minnesota to completely divest from Israel in terms of defense companies, recruiters, study abroad programs and weapons manufacturer companies. SDS also demands that all students, staff and faculty have the right to protest on campus without being repressed.

The U.S., the state of Minnesota and the university have all been complicit in the occupation of Palestine. Students for a Democratic Society stands in complete solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. As speaker Gillian Rath from the Anti-War Committee told the crowd, “Sometimes it feels like as grassroots activists here in the U.S., there isn’t a lot we can do to support those who are suffering and resisting in Palestine. But one thing we CAN do is demand divestment!”

This action was a great way for UMN SDS and UMN Students for Justice in Palestine to talk about the new petition that was recently started to get a referendum question about investment on the student election ballot. As a part of the Campus BDS Coalition, SDS is working with other student groups towards getting the 1000 signatures needed to get the question on the ballot. SDS had fliers explaining the petition to hand out at this event, and there are already about 700 signatures,

There is a long history of powerful student activism here in the United States, and particularly at the U of M. The movement must continue this mobilization, especially now, because student power makes a difference. “We cannot wait for the system and corrupt political leaders to help us free Palestine. We free Palestine on Palestinian terms,” said a member of UMN Students for Justice in Palestine.

After the speakers, SDS moved the rally inside of the student union to have a die in. Die-ins are a powerful tool of protest used in times of mass slaughter. It felt excruciatingly appropriate for students to be participating in a die-in to bring attention to the 30,000 and counting Palestinians who have been murdered.

Moving inside the student union, rally attendees spread out across the floor, laying down and blocking the front entrance to the building. Chants were led for about 20 minutes as this very busy space was occupied. Students studying in the building sat and listened to these chants until the rally was over. Not only was the die-in very visually symbolic but it also was very successful at stopping business as usual on campus.

#MinneapolisMN #StudentMovement #AntiWarMovement #International #Palestine #MiddleEast #SDS #UMNSDS #SJP