Action Uncategorized

Evergreen Student Walk Out For Palestine Sparks Solidarity Encampment On Campus

submitted anonymously –

On Tuesday, April 23rd nearly 150 students, faculty, and staff at The Evergreen State College (Evergreen) gathered at Red Square on campus. This rally was the culmination of a “Walk & Roll Out for Palestine” in coordination with colleges and high schools across Washington state. The walk out and rally was organized by Beldaan Solidarity Network, a group of Evergreen students united for the liberation of Palestine.

One of the event’s endorsers was Evergreen’s Master of Environmental Studies Student Association member (MESSA). A MESSA member read the association’s statement which highlighted the connection between colonialism, white supremacy, war, and environmental destruction. It revealed the immense amount of carbon dioxide that has been emitted as a result of Israel’s 6+ month siege of Gaza. The emissions numbers put into perspective the multiple destructive aspects of Israel’s genocide of Palestinians and they clarified why this crisis is of utmost importance to environmentalists.

Emails written by Rachel Corrie while she was doing international solidarity work in Gaza were read. Rachel was a 23-year-old peace activist from Olympia who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on 16 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition. One of the emails urged people to exchange their personal acts like recycling for small revolutionary acts. “Getting dad to quit his neoliberal job and become a math teacher. That would be revolutionary.” Rachel’s work is carried on by The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice.

Important connections were made through the use of chants with the crowd. Chants like “from Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go” and “from Palestine to the Philippines, stop the US war machine” tied the struggle for Palestinian liberation to the vision of a world beyond borders and state violence. The chant of “IOF, OPD, KKK they’re all the same” made the connection of the violent, oppressive, and racist foundations of the Israeli Defense Forces, US police, and the Klu Klux Klan.

The chant of “we don’t want zionist funding, we just want safe housing” was in reference to Jonathan Rodriguez, an Evergreen student who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Evergreen housing. Two other students were also hospitalized as a result of Evergreen’s gross negligence. Jonathan was loved by many across the Evergreen community and beyond. Among many other things, Jonathan is remembered as a kind, intelligent, funny, and passionate person who was a social justice advocate and was in the process of creating an original video game.

Calls for international solidarity were emphasized throughout. Solidarity with Black and Indigenous people in the US, the people of Sudan, Congo, Tigray, Ethiopia, and Myanmar, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Muslims of the world subject to hatred and violence, and more. The speaker reminded the crowd that “international solidarity means refusing to look away”.
The rally’s final call and response sent reverberations of Assata Shakur’s famous words throughout Red Square: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

As the rally came to a close, a group of autonomous students began setting up tents which has grown into a Gaza solidarity encampment on the lawn in Red Square. This encampment is one of many on college campuses across the US demanding divestment from companies that profit off of Israeli occupation, among other demands. Evergreen’s encampment was not organized by any organization but is instead an autonomous student action to pressure Evergreen to take meaningful action to support Palestine.

The encampment’s demands of Evergreen are:
– Cut all ties with the Academic Engagement Network which is explicitly zionist
– Remove the “Many Israels” class from the Evergreen course catalog
– Divest from Caterpillar Inc. who profits from the Israeli occupation
– Divest from Aramark who profits off of US prisons
– No Evergreen-approved study abroad trips to occupied Palestine
– A formal statement from Evergreen’s President condemning Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians written in collaboration with student representatives
– Conduct an official investigation of anti-Palestinian rhetoric
– Abolish Evergreen police & parking services
– No repercussions for students involved in the solidarity encampment
– Immediate movement toward the formation of a student-faculty committee to follow through on making this a reality

Encampment student organizers have had two meetings with Evergreen administrators to discuss these demands. So far none of the demands have been met and now the administration is threatening to close down the camp.

Allies and accomplices from all over the region are encouraged to come share space with students at the Evergreen encampment, to bring supplies, and to spread the word. Current supply needs are canopies, pallets, tarps, hand & foot warmers, tents, chairs, tables, socks, gloves, beanies, and warm meals. The success of this pressure campaign will depend on the presence and support of students and non-students alike. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

For up to date information, follow @southsoundabolition on Instagram.