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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Palestine walkout leads students on march through Uptown

Tulane and Loyola students marched on St. Charles Avenue during a national walkout in support of Palestine on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (Lillian Foster)

Palestine and Israel supporters gathered separately at Tulane University on Thursday amid increased police presence and warnings from school leaders that all groups must remain peaceful. 

Palestine supporters met around 1 p.m. on Freret Street and McAlister Place. Israel supporters gathered at the same time on the Lavin-Bernick Center quad. 

By 2 p.m., what seemed to be over a hundred Palestine supporters marched down St. Charles Avenue to the President’s mansion, where they gave several speeches. 

When speaking outside of the President’s House at 3:45 p.m., Blu DiMarco, a member of the Loyola University New Students for a Democratic Society, talked about Nathaniel Miller, a Tulane student who was assaulted at an Oct. 26 rally after he tried to stop a Palestinian supporter from burning an Israeli flag. DiMarco said that while pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested on Oct. 26, Miller was not.

A Jewish Tulane sophomore named Silas gave a speech to the crowd. “Judaism is a community and one that I love,” Silas, who did not give his last name, said. “But I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not a justification for apartheid. It’s not an excuse for bigotry and hate.

“You can condemn the Israeli government and still love the Israeli people. And you can condemn anti-Palestinian hate and love the Jewish community. Nothing about Judaism demands the maintenance and subjugation of Palestinians,” Silas said. 

Protestors chanted “drop the charges,” referencing protestors who were arrested after the Oct. 26 rally.

Pro-Palestine protesters organized buses to Lafayette Square, where a larger gathering called “Shut It Down! For Palestine” was planned for 3 p.m.

According to an Instagram post advertising the event, “Shut It Down! For Palestine” calls on “movements, organized labor, youth, students, media and healthcare workers, and all members of society to join us in demanding an immediate ceasefire, cutting all aid to Israel, and lifting the siege on Gaza.”

On Wednesday night, Tulane said law enforcement, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Louisiana State Police and the New Orleans Police Department would help secure public property outside of campus. 

The school also said officers would use barricades to restrict campus access and patrol areas on motorcycle and horseback. Since Tulane is on private property, non-affiliates were not allowed on campus, Tulane said. Freret also closed to traffic. 

Classes continued as scheduled. 

“Our heightened security measures are not meant to thwart free expression and peaceful debate,” a statement signed by President Mike Fitts, Provost Robin Forman and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Norton, said. “Rather they are designed to protect our campus community and all peaceful demonstrators.”

The Palestinian demonstration was part of a walkout also planned at universities across the country. Tulane Students For Palestine said it was protesting as part of that effort and also to “demand that Tulane divests from and denounces the Israeli genocide of Palistinians.”

The group also said it hopes to raise support for Tulane’s Muslim and Palestinian students, who it said are facing rises in racism and hatred on campus. It called for peaceful and nonviolent demonstration. 

On the LBC quad, Students Supporting Israel at Tulane, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center, Tulane Hillel, Tulane Israel Public Affairs Committee, Tulane University For Israeli Culture and StandWithUs co-hosted a gathering that had music and food. The groups urged students to join them. 

Thursday’s gatherings came two weeks after Palestine supporters assaulted several Tulane students at the rally on Freret. Three people were arrested at that clash, and Tulane said an additional felony hate crime arrest is “forthcoming.” 

Tulane said the Palestine event on Freret was not sanctioned by the school. University rules say no non-registered event is allowed to occur on campus, and the Palestine group did not request to protest on campus grounds. 

The school directed students who wanted to reach the academic quad without crossing the Freret intersection to take Newcomb Place to the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, then cross over Freret to Law Road. 

“At Tulane, we will always uphold the right to debate and protest peacefully, but we will not – we repeat, not – tolerate violence, aggression, or incitement,” Tulane said in the statement. “A line was crossed two weeks ago, and we will do everything in our power to ensure it is not crossed again.”

Correction: a previous version of this article attributed the gathering supporting Israel to Students Supporting Israel. Changes reflect the seven organizations that co-hosted the event. 

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