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  • Zoe Becker

Amidst Rising Tensions, Walls Students Join in DMV Student Strike for Gaza

Students march in the DMV Student Strike for Gaza / Credits: Andrew Derek Strachan

Against the backdrop of continuing college protests over Israel’s war in Gaza, DC high schoolers staged a protest of their own. Over 200 DC students participated in the DMV Student Strike for Gaza on Friday, May 24, organized by a collective of students from various DC public and private schools.

According to the DMV Student Strike for Gaza Handbook (which was made available via the organizers’ Instagram), the purpose of the protest was  to “show that the youth will no longer be complicit in the incessant violence against Palestinians.” Organizers also sought to use the protest as a way to start conversations about the ongoing war. 

Organizers rallied students by creating school based “pods,” each with their own lead organizers who were tasked with spreading the word about the protest at their school. Anna Mayer (‘25), the lead for Walls, became involved in the strike through friends in the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate activism group.

Mayer worked alongside Dawn Drake (‘25) and Augusta Kankel (‘25) on outreach and press releases for the protest. “[The strike is] a forum for students to talk about [Palestine] with their peers, as that has been a bit lacking within Walls,” Kankel said. 

Protesters congregated for a rally at McPherson Square at 11 AM on Friday morning. From there, the group marched through barricaded streets, accompanied by swaths of members of the press, chanting slogans about Palestine and student activism.

Protesters marched to the White House, a significant site considering that their demands of ending unconditional military aid to Israel and calling for a permanent ceasefire were directed towards the Biden Administration.

Following the morning’s rally and march, attendees participated in “teach-ins” about Palestine. At 12:15 organizers led a teach-in entitled “Palestine 101” which offered an overview of movements for Palestinian liberation. “Palestine 101” was filled by a teach-in titled “Queerness, Abolition, and Palestine.” which “focused on case studies of intersections of Palestine and other identities…such as race,” according to lead organizer Wei Zhou. 

Some protesters took issue with the rhetoric and information used during teach-ins. A leader from one of the protest’s sponsors, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) said, for example, in a portion of the afternoon covering Palestinian history that “the first intifada was beautiful.” 

Mayer, for example, said that she found the statement to “lack nuance and fail to consider all perspectives.” 

Prior to the strike, many raised concerns over AMP’s sponsoring of the event. 

The AMP has had considerable overlap in leadership with the Islamic Association for Palestine which shuttered in 2004.Namely, the executive director of the AMP, Osama Abuirshaid, worked for the IAP prior to the organization’s collapse. 

Following a lengthy FBI investigation, leaders of the IAP and its fundraising organization, the Holy Land Foundation (a designated terror group in the US), were indicted and sent to prison for supporting terrorist organizations. Federal agencies found both organizations responsible for funneling money to Hamas, the Iran backed Palestinian militant group and Gaza’s primary governing force(also designated as a terror group by the US government) responsible for the October 7th attacks on Israel. 

Several pending lawsuits claim that the AMP has links to Hamas, however, the AMP has denied any such ties. 

Dori Wilson (‘26) noted that they were on the fence about whether or not to attend the strike but after learning about potential ties to Hamas, “it was a definite ‘no’ for me.” 

Sophomore Cameron Levelle shared a similar sentiment, stating that “I likely would have participated had the AMP not been a sponsor.”

Organizers declined to comment on the AMP’s sponsorship of the protest.


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