Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Student Movement

By staff

Members of the Tampa 5 speaking outside the courthouse. | Fight Back! News/staff

Fight Back New Service is circulating the following statement from the Emergency Committee to Defend the Tampa 5.

The Tampa 5 are proud to announce a great victory: their misdemeanor and felony charges will be dropped! This victory was made possible by months of mobilizations of people across the state of Florida, and even across the entire country, in defense of the Tampa 5. It is because of the bravery of students and youth protesters coming out for diversity and for student protest, that these five members of Students for a Democratic Society protesters will not see a single day in prison.

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By staff

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement by FSU Students for a Democratic Society

Tallahassee, FL – Since October 11th, Florida State University SDS has been involved in actions in support of Palestine and the Palestinian people. Throughout this campaign, the students at FSU have made specific demands of our university. Our demands are that President Richard McCullough rewrite the shameful letter to FSU students that only mentioned Israeli students' grief and trauma, that the university cut all ties with Boeing which builds the airplanes that drop bombs on innocent Palestinians, and that FSU ends its support of Zionist organizations like Hillel & Chabad and their birthright programs to Israel. In short, we are asking FSU to cut all ties with the genocidal Israeli government and to provide support for Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students in the wake of rising Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism around the country.

On November 10th, SDS intended to make public comments at the Board of Trustees meeting to make our demands to the administration known. Three days beforehand, our former president Cas called the Board of Trustees office to verify that public comments would begin at 3 PM that Friday. They were assured that public comments would begin at 3 PM “no matter what” to ensure that students and faculty could attend and address any questions or concerns about campus life. At SDS’s Market Wednesday table the following day, an FSUPD officer was bothering our members about the upcoming mobilization to the Board of Trustees meeting. He asked how many people we expected to show out and other prying questions.

When the day of the action came, FSUPD informed SDS leadership that public comment had ended at 1:30 PM, hours earlier than it normally does. We saw this as an attempt to quash political dissent and were not going to go away quietly. Thus, we entered the Board of Trustees meeting and silently waved Palestine flags for about 15 minutes. At 3 PM- when the public comment was originally scheduled- we began loudly questioning the Board of Trustees’ refusal to hear our comments. We demanded to know why FSU is partnered with Boeing, why it upholds the settler-colonial “birthright” program, and why President McCullough could not make a statement that acknowledges the suffering of Arab students on campus and people in Palestine. We were directed by FSUPD to leave the building and immediately complied with their directions. As we exited, we continued chanting “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!” and other statements in solidarity with Palestine. We finished the action with a rally outside of Miller Hall. Attendees had an open invitation to voice their grievances with the University’s support of Israel throughout this conflict and with its attempt to silence student voices.

The following week, SDS leadership received emails about purported Code of Conduct violations by the organization. The “violations” and our response to each of them are as follows:

SOCC VII. H.1: Student Organizations and student organization members must comply with the lawful order or reasonable request of an identified University official, any non-University law enforcement official, any non University emergency responder, or any protective order.

Response: SDS immediately complied with FSUPD’s directives to vacate the building. When we were escorted out of Miller Hall, we finished with a rally outside of the building. Videos of our members chanting will show that they were moving toward the exit doors in accordance with police orders

SOCC VII. H.2f: The Student Organization will not engage in, tolerate, or condone: Behavior which disrupts or obstructs student learning, instruction, research, administrative, or other University operations or previously scheduled or reserved on-campus activities.

Response: This supposed “violation” targets students’ right to protest. We were peacefully assembled in the Board of Trustees meeting and peacefully left when directed to. We resorted to chanting because the Board of Trustees expedited public comment, denying us the opportunity to voice our concerns about FSU’s cooperation in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians. This action, while disruptive, is protected speech under the First Amendment. Further, Article I of the Florida Constitution states that “minor, brief, or fleeting nonviolent disruptions that are isolated or brief in duration,” are a protected form of protest.

SOCC VII. I.1d: The Student Organization will not engage in, tolerate, or condone: Entering or using the property or facilities of another person or entity without the consent or authorization or refusing to depart when directed by a university official.

Response: SDS was authorized to enter the building by FSUPD and complied with orders to leave when they asked us to. Stating that we “refus[ed] to depart” is slanderous and an obvious falsehood.

We condemn the actions of FSUPD, which surveilled and harassed SDS members at ‘Market Wednesday’ the week of our Board of Trustees action. The surveillance and harassment of FSUPD was a clear attempt to target students who are members of FSU SDS. This harassment is a violation of students' right to free speech.

The attacks on FSU SDS do not come in a vacuum. Across the country, university administrators and politicians have threatened students' First Amendment right to protest. In Florida, Ron DeSantis ordered SJP chapters to be delisted on dubious terrorism charges. Florida State Representative Randy Fine has made slanderous accusations calling student protesters and organizations ‘Hamas’ or ‘pro-Hamas’. Jewish Voice for Peace was delisted at Brandeis University and JVP and SJP were suspended at Columbia.

SDS condemns the attacks on student protesters across the country. When students' First Amendment rights are under attack, we must stand up and fight back!

Hands off our movements!

Defend First Amendment Rights!

Free Palestine!

#TallahasseeFL #International #Palestine #StudentMovement #SDS #AntiWar

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.

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By staff

Members of Milwaukee SDS protest Zionist speakers. | Fight Back! News/staff

Milwaukee, WI – On November 21, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee administration put together a panel event featuring two speakers who oppose the genocide in Palestine and two Zionists. Pro-Palestine organizations across the city put out a call to mobilize people to the talk and pack the house with anti-Zionist elements. UWM Students for a Democratic Society was one of them.

The Zionist speakers included Rabbi Josh Herman, the executive director of the Milwaukee branch of the far-right Zionist group Hillel, and a political science professor at UWM named Shale Horowitz. They started off with a fictitious recounting of history, claiming that the blame for the genocide and occupation rests with the Palestinians and their unwillingness to “compromise.”

The comments from the two Zionists only got worse from there, including claiming that the Palestinian liberation chant “From the river to the sea” is a call for Jewish genocide; that a people who were victims of a previous genocide could not be perpetrators of a new genocide; that the Zionist state should be commended for its efforts to “prevent civilian casualties,” and that Muslims are the most successful colonial forces in the history of the world – especially, as stated by Horowitz, compared to Europeans.

To their credit, the other two panelists – Othman Atta, leader with the Islamic Society of Milwaukee; and Dr. Caroline Seymour-Jorn, professor and director of International Studies at UWM – responded to the genocide apologism with sharp rebuttals, reasoned positions, and factual accounts of the history.

The crowd, largely pro-Palestinian, responded more frankly, with jeers and laughter at the absurdities being put forward by the Zionist speakers. Members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) took it a step further and held up red-painted hands whenever one of the Zionists would speak, symbolic of the blood on their hands and the hands of the government which they defend. The silent protest had begun to wear on them both as the event went on, with more and more frequent allusions to their detractors in the crowd. Horowitz in particular seemed to direct his vitriolic comments at the student demonstrators.

As the panel was coming to a close, the moderator pointed to UWM's chancellor, Mark Mone, and said that he had the unenviable task of figuring out how to navigate the challenges of creating a safer and more welcoming campuses from students of all backgrounds. He then turned to the panelists to provide advice for the chancellor, but before any of them could answer, a member of SDS shouted out, “Change the name of the library!” The SDSer was referencing the UWM library named after Golda Meir, an infamous former prime minister of the Zionist state. Most in attendance cheered and clapped. There was no response from administration.

SDS will be initiating a campaign in the coming weeks to pressure campus administration to make that change. Efforts are underway to unite other organizations around this project, particularly the Muslim Student Association and the UWM chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

#MilwaukeeWI #International #Palestine #AntiWar #StudentMovement #SDS

By Cas Casanova

Tampa 5 speaking tour event in Tallahassee. | Fight Back! News/staff

Tallahassee, FL – On November 17, Chrisley Carpio and Gia Davila continued their nationwide speaking tour with a stop in Tallahassee, Florida. On this tour, the Tampa 5 have visited 25 cities in 16 different states to raise awareness about their story – they were arrested for protesting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ racist attacks on public education and are currently facing multiple felony charges and up to ten years in prison.

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By staff

Orlando visit of the Tampa 5 speaking tour. | Fight Back! News/staff

Orlando, FL – On Saturday, November 11, around 20 community members gathered at the Orlando Public Library for a discussion panel featuring the Tampa 5 as part of their national speaking tour. The event was hosted by Orlando for Gender Equality and the Florida chapter of the New Era Young Lords. The panel’s speakers consisted of Laura Rodriguez, Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro and Chrisley Carpio of the Tampa 5.

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By staff

Protestors gather around as someone standing on the bed of a truck delivers a speech into a microphone. Protestors wave Palestinian flags.

Minneapolis, MN – On November 18, three University of Minnesota Twin Cities student organizations; (Students for a Democratic Society, Young Democratic Socialists of America, and Students for Justice in Palestine) held a rally and march starting in front of the Humphrey School of Public affairs on UMN campus.

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By staff

Kayla Patterson with UWM SDS speaks outside the campus administration during a rally and march on November 15. | Fight Back! News/staff

Milwaukee, WI – A spirited group of more two dozen student protesters gathered outside the Golda Meir Library on the afternoon of November 15 for a rally called by UW-Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The assembled group chanted and heard speeches before beginning a march throughout campus.

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By staff

Minnesota students march for a free Palestine. | Fight Back! News/Sabry Wazwaz

St. Paul, MN – On November 11, over 600 college students from Saint Catherine University, Macalester College, Augsburg University, Saint Thomas University, Carleton College and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities rallied at Macalester College and then marched in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood to demand an end to the ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

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By Bryan Tavish

Students backing Palaestine at Tallahassee Board of Trustees meeting.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Tallahassee, FL – On November 10, approximately 30 students at Florida State University attended FSU’s Board of Trustees meeting to demand the university divest from Israel. The students were organized by the Florida state chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (FSU SDS).

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