In a walkout from classes on Thursday, students assembled in front of the Mayer Campus Center to protest Israel’s continued war in Gaza, which has now taken the lives of over 28,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, 2023. The protest, organized by the Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts, coincided with similar demonstrations at other schools in a National Student Day of Action for Divestment.
The protest began with a student introducing themselves as a member of the indigenous students organization at Tufts, which is part of the coalition. They spoke about a “radical international solidarity” in reference to “Native American-Palestinian unity” and other historical examples of colonial resistance.
“Despite the silencing and pressure we perceive from those who back imperial occupiers, more and more citizens choose to stand for Palestinian liberation,” the student said. “As we gather at Tufts, we join the movement of schools throughout New England, throughout the nation, to end our complicity in colonial genocide.”
The student used the term “Turtle Island,” an Indigenous name used by some groups to reclaim traditional history, to refer to the continent of North America.
“From Turtle Island to Palestine, our liberation from settler colonial pressures is intertwined,” the same student said. “We are here now to actually stand in support of our Palestinian relatives, and although we are called here today in crisis, creating long-term sustainable relations is fundamental to our movement of solidarity.”
This is the coalition’s second protest of the semester, following just two weeks after its last.
“CPLT has called on a student walkout from all classes on Thursday 2/8 as part of a national call for universities to divest from financial holdings in the Zionist settler colonial project,” the coalition wrote in a statement to the Daily. “We join a massive country wide action that will kickstart our escalated actions as tufts university remains complicit with the ongoing genocide in Gaza. We call on all TCU senators to support the soon-to-be introduced resolutions on divestment.”
In an Instagram post promoting the protest, the CPLT wrote that it was beginning a national divestment campaign as it continues “the struggle against tufts university to divest from israel apartheid and ongoing genocide.”
Another speaker referenced one of CPLT’s previous protests — when over 250 students staged a sit-in in the Campus Center for 10 hours in a show of solidarity with Palestine — and a successful University of Michigan faculty movement to call for the school to protect students’ free speech and divest from companies profiting from the Israeli military.
“Students have spent the past 110 days building power on campus,” they said. “We have activated every sector of the academic community in support of the liberation of Palestine. Our campus is primed and ready to engage in a sustained, long-term campaign to push our university to end our complicity in the genocide of Palestinians.”
Students then marched down Talbot Avenue, proceeding up College Avenue and blocking vehicles from accessing the road. Unlike the last protest on Jan. 26, they were not accompanied by a police escort. Turning on Professors Row and continuing up Packard Avenue, the protest eventually gathered outside Ballou Hall.
While marching, students chanted “min el-maiyeh lel mayieh, Falasteen Arabiya,” an Arabic phrase translating to: “From the water to the water, Palestine will be Arab.”
“We rally outside Ballou Hall as part of a national divestment campaign [launching] across college campuses [which is] demanding that American institutions of higher education end their complicity with genocide,” a third speaker said. “We will not rest until divestment becomes a reality.”
The final speaker mentioned again the coalition’s plans to introduce “numerous resolutions” to the TCU Senate, “breaking down divestment into numerous feasible and actionable steps for Tufts to take immediately.” The steps include ending study abroad programs in Israel, boycotting war-profiting companies and pushing for the administration to recognize “the ongoing genocide in Gaza and Palestine and [have] a meeting with the coalition to discuss it.”
After the rally, the indigenous students organization and Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine co-hosted an event titled “Parallels from Turtle Island to Palestine” in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room.