In Protests

Original article posted: link

About 200 students walked out of their classes for a silent sit-in at Gelman Library on Thursday to join the international call to “Shut it Down for Palestine” and condemn the GW’s response to the Israel-Hamas war.

With a banner that read “End the siege on Gaza” draped on the ground below them, hundreds of students silently sat on the ground and steps outside the library while one demonstrator recited the names and ages of more than 1,200 Palestinians who have been killed by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7. The crowd later marched to the State Department, demanding the United States terminate funding that contributes to the killing of Palestinians.

The demonstrator began reading off a list of names and ages of the Palestinian lives lost in the war at around 1 p.m. At approximately 3:20 p.m., the demonstrator announced that he had read off 1,000 names. Thirty minutes later, he announced he’d read 200 more.

“These 10, 11,000 deaths are what this University continues to invest in. That is shameful. That is shameful,” the demonstrator said after he had finished reading the names. “This school is complicit in genocide. Your tuition is being invested in genocide. It is funding genocide.”

Since Hamas’ initial attack Oct. 7 — which killed 1,400 people in Israel — and Israel’s subsequent declaration of war on the Palestinian militant group, Israel has escalated airstrikes and its siege on Gaza. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in the airstrikes, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, which operates under the political arm of Hamas.

Tanner Nally | Photographer

A dozen student organizations on GW’s campus sponsored Thursday’s walkout: GW SJP, Black Defiance, Jewish Voices for Peace, No Guns for GWPD, Students Against Imperialism, Dissenters, Arab Student Association, Caribbean Student Association, Armenian Student Association, UndocuGW, Students for Indigenous and Native American Rights and Organizers for Revolutionary Climate Action.

Students engulfed the right side of Gelman Library, wearing face masks, keffiyehs draped over their shoulders and holding up cardboard and poster signs. Throughout the three-hour demonstration, more students filtered in to join the growing crowd, which, at its peak, reached from the top of the staircase to the base of the Kogan clock. One demonstrator waved a large Palestinian flag from the balcony of the library as another continued to read off the list names and ages of those killed.

Members of the crowd held signs that read “GW complicit in genocide,” “You named us Revolutionaries for a reason” and “GW stop funding genocide.” Other signs included “GW undergraduate enrollment is 11,000, so is the death toll in Gaza,” “Racism is not new at GW” and “We will not stay silent.”

“Dear President Granberg, how are Arab and Muslim students meant to feel safe here?” one demonstrator’s sign read. “We are called ‘terrorists’ or ‘antisemitic’ for simply advocating for Palestinian human rights.”

Tanner Nalley | Photographer

Another demonstrator held up a sign reading “Glory to our martyrs.” During the sit-in, the nonprofit organization StopAntisemitism posted a picture of the demonstrator on X — the site formerly known as Twitter — asking users to identify the student, adding that “applauding” those murdered in the initial Oct. 7 attack is “horrifying” and should not be accepted as the norm in the U.S.

About eight Metropolitan and GW Police Department cars parked on H Street while several officers patrolled the perimeter of Kogan throughout the gathering.

Tanner Nally | Photographer

Demonstrators rose from the library’s steps after nearly three hours of silent sitting and began marching down H Street, turning left onto 23rd Street and ending at the State Department, where they joined demonstrators from the Palestinian Youth Movement. As they marched, members of the crowd chanted phrases like “We will free Palestine within our lifetime,” “Granberg, Granberg, shame on you” and “No peace on stolen land.”

Demonstrators reached the C Street entrance to the building at about 4 p.m., where they stood and continued to chant phrases like “Biden you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” “Occupation has to go” and “Israel is an apartheid state.” Shortly after, volunteers from the crowd started reading stories of Palestinian survivors in the Gaza Strip and some yelled at employees leaving the State Department building to quit their jobs.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has visited Israel four times since Hamas’ attack Oct. 7 and has reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s “right to defend itself” in a press conference earlier this month following similar statements last month. The Israeli government agreed to a daily, four-hour pause on military operations in Gaza per requests from President Joe Biden and other members of the White House administration, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced Thursday.

Senior State Department officials are conducting “listening sessions” for U.S. diplomats in countries in the Middle East and North Africa who expressed concerns with the Biden administration’s response to the war.

Last week, about 40 pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Kogan Plaza and marched through campus to the Smith Center to protest University President Ellen Granberg’s inauguration, carrying the same “End the siege on Gaza” banner brought out during the walkout. The protesters called for the University to condemn Israeli military action in Gaza, retract all their past statements on the war and cut financial ties that have contributed to the killing of Palestinians.

This post was updated with the following:
This story was updated to replace a photo of a protester facing online threats with an image of the protest.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search