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University of Minnesota community members shut it down for Palestine

By Mira Altobell-Resendez

University of Minnesota community members stand with Palestine. | Fight Back! News/staff

Minneapolis, MN – On November 29, over 300 students, staff and faculty members at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities skipped class and work to participate in several events throughout the day as part of the Shut It Down for Palestine International Day of Solidarity.

These actions were called and led by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and several faculty members such as Sima Shakhsari of the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies department.

Demonstrators started the day on the Northrop Mall on campus, where they gathered at 10 a.m. for two hours of spirited chanting with the goal of disrupting the commutes of peers and colleagues attempting to go about business as usual. Slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “When Palestine is occupied, resistance is justified!” could be heard inside of the surrounding buildings that house busy classrooms and administrative offices.

The group then marched to the Afghan Cultural Center where a viewing was hosted of a live webinar organized by the Palestinian Feminist Collective and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

At 3 p.m. a rally hosted by SDS took place outside of the Afghan Cultural Center on the May Day Plaza. Activists spoke out against the University of Minnesota’s collaborations with weapons manufacturers and Israeli universities that aid the mass killing of Palestinians, the U.S. government’s role in the maintenance of the Zionist occupation, and the consumption of products and services on the official boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) list.

Emily Chu from SDS opened the program reaffirming the goals of the BDS movement. Chu stated that the corporations that have the power to withdraw resources from Israel to cease their continuous massacre Palestinians “aren’t listening to us when we show up in the streets and call them genociders and try to hold them accountable with our words, so we’ve got to speak the only language they understand, which is money. We need to be mindful of our consumption because we know that these products are being made with blood money.”

A member of SJP called out Biden for hypocrisy in his response to the recent shooting in Vermont of three young men who were wearing keffiyehs in public on their way to a family dinner. Citing Biden’s call against violence and hate in America and referencing the billions of dollars the U.S. has sent to Israel under the Biden administration, she questions “Is this supposed to be satire? Because if anything he is fueling the hate and the violence on a daily basis. Shame on him!”

That same member of SJP reminded the crowd that the Zionist occupation of Palestine did not start on October 7 of this year. She recounted the experience of finding out her cousin in the West Bank had been murdered by the Israeli occupation forces and had a knife planted near his body to make it appear as though the soldiers had been acting in self-defense when they shot him seven times.

The day of solidarity was concluded in the evening with an event hosted on campus by SJP and UNICEF highlighting the role indigenous solidarity plays in the Palestinian liberation movement.

End U.S. aid to Israel! Free Palestine now!

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