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UM-Dearborn Students Stage a Walkout For Gaza

Kylie Martin, Editor-in-Chief

Students holding a Palestinian flag during Thursday's Walkout For Gaza. Photo//NM.

At noon on Thursday, Nov. 9, hundreds of angry UM-Dearborn students donned their kuffiyeh scarves, mounted their "ceasefire now" signs and waved their Palestinian flags high during a walkout in support of Gaza.

On Oct. 7, 2023, attacks on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas set the decades-old conflict ablaze again. Now, over a month later, Israel's retaliation has persisted almost tenfold with no indications of a ceasefire, prompting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to come together and rally in support of Gaza and Palestine.

According to NPR, Hamas' original attacks on Israel left just over 1,400 dead. Israel's retaliation, on the other hand, has killed over 10,000 people as of Nov. 6, with most of them being women and children.

The Walkout was led by UM-Dearborn's Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), along with the support of 19 other student organizations. Since the events of Oct. 7, the org has also held a vigil for Gaza, a "Paint for Palestine" workshop and a community painting of the campus rock outside of the UC.

Days before the walkout, flyers began to float around campus and social media detailing a fist painted in red, green and black – the Palestinian flag's colors – reading: "Show the world that we will not sit idly by in the midst of a GENOCIDE. We will not forget, we will not surrender, we will not stop until Palestine is free. We demand a ceasefire."

The Walkout For Gaza began on the University Center Patio before looping around the back of CASL and finally marching over to the Union, all while chanting "Free Palestine." As the rally members walked across the Evergreen Road crosswalk, cars honked in solidarity of the students' mission.

"We as people have come together as one to express our voices for the voiceless. We came out today demanding a ceasefire for the people of Gaza, in hope of bringing awareness to the tragedies as well as shedding light to the recurring struggles of the Palestinians. We also had a ceasefire sign with martyrs names written all over it, representing the lives lost," said a member of SJP's e-board. "Overall we had an amazing turnout. The support was incredible."

"It made me frustrated that when we cried for peace, the U.S. government responded with war. When we cried about the rising deaths in Gaza, some of whom are our neighbors, families and friends, the U.S. government responded in disbelief of the atrocities," said Nico Bokhari, president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, and an attendee of the rally. "It became clear to me that demonstrating at this rally was to remind the U.S. government who they serve, and to show the world that caring for one another is more important than war...Everyone who was there valued community over divide. We see community and caring for one another as the way for progress."

UM-Dearborn's rock outside of the Renick University Center, where student organizations can participate in the campus tradition of spray painting the rock. Over the last few weeks, the rock has read "Free Palestine," with the Palestinian flag painted on the other side. Photos//Kylie Martin

"Thank you to everyone who came out this afternoon. I know your voices are tired from chanting, just as the people of Gaza's voices are tired from crying for help. I know your arms are tired from holding signs and flags, just as the doctors', nurses', humanitarian aids' arms are tired from carrying the children of Gaza out of rubble," said Bokhari in a CECS community Whatsapp group. "Our bodies are tired, but our demand for peace will never cease. Rest up so we may continue this fight for human rights."

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