Minneapolis, MN – On January 29, 500 Minneapolis public school students participated in a student-organized walkout for Palestine.
Students marched from downtown’s Gold Medal Park to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office, chanting, “Louder, louder, say it more; not a conflict; not a war” and “No more hiding, no more fear; this genocide is crystal clear.” The students’ demands included calls for an end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and for U.S. divestment from Israel, both of which have been vehemently echoed across the nation.
Perhaps more directly pertinent to the students participating were their demands for an end to the active censorship of students fighting for justice for Palestine, as well as for the immediate reversal of all punitive action taken against those students – including the four Edina high schoolers who were suspended this past fall for chanting “From the river to the sea.”
Isaac Stets, a senior at Roosevelt High School and one of the lead organizers with MPS4Palestine, addressed the gathered students outside of Klobuchar’s office, “Don’t feel pity for the Palestinians,” he said. “Instead look at the atrocities committed in Gaza, and look at the atrocities committed here at home. Look at where these atrocities come from. Don’t feel pity for the Palestinians. Feel unity!” The crowd erupted into cheers before chanting “Free, free Palestine.”
“I think it’s really important that high schoolers are organizing high schoolers, and that we are building up consciousness in our own schools,” said Stets after the rally. Expressing unwavering solidarity with the students suspended at Edina, Stets continued, “We face censorship at our own MPS schools as well. We’ve put up posters to which [the school administration] will say we’re not allowed to use the word ‘genocide’. We’re not allowed to mention Israel at all. We’re not allowed to say ‘settler-colonialism’. It’s crazy, especially considering that settler-colonialism is a part of the MPS curriculum. And we’re not allowed to talk about it on posters about Palestine.”
At the end of the demonstration, Saturn Willmeng, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School and Roosevelt’s representative for MPS4Palestine, expressed feelings of excitement and empowerment to have been able to stand alongside so many fellow students to demand justice. “It was hard organizing this,” said Willmeng with a smile.
Speaking on the importance of high schoolers in their age demographic leading these sorts of actions, Willmeng stated, “If kids our age are brave enough to be able to face a genocide and still be courageous through it, we have to be brave enough to stand up and fight for them.”