The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Members of the USM community gather for pro-Palestine protest

From UCLA to Columbia University, protests against the Israeli occupation and genocide of Palestine have taken place for weeks. These protests have resulted in canceled classes, canceled commencement ceremonies and countless arrests of protesters. Now, the University of Southern Mississippi has joined these universities in a protest for the freedom of Palestine. 

Over sixty students, faculty, staff and other Mississippians gathered at Shoemaker Square, the university’s designated free-speech zone, to call for an end to the violence towards the Palestinian people of Gaza. The protest was organized entirely by anonymous undergraduate students of the university. The Instagram page @usm4palestine announced the protest shortly before noon. 

There was a peaceful intent from the moment the protest was announced. Protesters were instructed to avoid chanting and speaking to others passing by, and allow their signs to be their voices. Livestreaming was not recommended. 

The organizers had four demands for their protest. Firstly, they asked the university to disclose all endowment investments of Israel. Secondly, they requested that the university divest and end all relations pertaining to Israel. They also requested that the university declare that they condemn the genocide in Gaza. Finally, the organizers requested that the university support the adoption of the ceasefire resolution created for the City of Hattiesburg. 

Upon arrival, protesters were placed on the west side of Bennett Auditorium with their signs and silence in tow. Some wore masks, hats, hoods or sunglasses to hide their identity, while raising their signs above their head. Some signs called for an immediate end to the genocide, a permanent ceasefire, a USM that supports a free Palestine, and other condemnations of the Israeli occupation. 

Willem Myers, a USM student and Jewish organizer, was present at the protest to declare their support for the Palestinian cause. 

“Today we are coming out here to put it on the record that USM students do not stand with genocide,” said Meyers. “We have demands for the university to disclose any connections, financially or otherwise, that they may have with the Israeli apartheid regime.” 

In regards to the silent protest, Myers also mentioned the pro-Palestine protest that took place on May 2 at the University of Mississippi. The protest has sparked national attention as a result of the behavior of counter-protesters who enticed protesters and shouted racist and insulting remarks. 

“We’re not looking to repeat that,” Myers said. 

Onlookers arrived at the protest to stand on the sidelines, only coming up close to the protest in silent increments. With the actions of counter-protesters in mind at Ole Miss, some expressed concern that the onlookers might do the same. The protest avoided this fate, and the protest remained entirely conflict-free. 

After the protest ended, USM for Palestine sent an official letter to President Joe Paul once again calling for USM to disclose, divest and support. 

“The USM community refuses to stand idly by as we watch a genocide unfold before us with the knowledge that we are all complicit in the bloodshed,” said the letter. “This is why today, despite objections from the Dean and the University Police Department, we stood in silent protest…”

The president’s office has yet to release a statement in response to the protest. 

USM for Palestine has not mentioned any further protests in the future, but remains vigilant on updating and educating the community. 

“We demand a better world,” Myers said. “We demand that Israel accept the ceasefire agreement that Hamas agreed to, to keep their hands off of Rafah and to completely withdraw all military presence in the region.”

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