Pro-Palestinian demonstration draws counter-protest at University of Alabama

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Pro-Palestinian protesters face counter-protesters on May 1, 2024 at the University of Alabama.

Kelsey Shelton, WBHM

The University of Alabama was the latest college to see a protest over Israel’s war in Gaza Wednesday. Led by the UA Leftist Collective, students gathered at the Student Center Plaza demanding the school call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire and to push the school to sever ties with defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

In a press release, organizers said Lockheed Martin has “supplied Israel with fighter jets, Hellfire missiles, and other weapons that are currently being used to slaughter Palestinians.” 

The protesters had six demands:

  1. Stop allowing Lockheed Martin to recruit on campus.
  2. Break off UA’s official role as a “partner university” of Lockheed Martin.
  3. Rename Hewson Hall, which is named after Marillyn Hewson, former CEO of Lockheed Martin.
  4. Disclose a list of investments made using UA’s endowment fund, and divest from corporations that are supporting the genocide in Gaza.
  5. Stop conducting research funded by the Department of Defense.
  6. Release a public statement calling for an immediate, permanent
    ceasefire in Gaza.

This protest comes as students at universities nationwide have protested against Israel’s war in Gaza, which began following an attack from Hamas on October 7.

Counter-protesters enter the scene

Demonstrators stood with signs that read “Ceasefire Now” and “Tide Against Genocide.” Shortly after the protest began, counter-protesters gathered across from the pro-Palestinian group. They waved American and Israeli flags, and some students held a Trump banner. Campus police kept the two sides separated.

As the pro-Palestinian demonstrators cycled through chants, counter-protesters engaged in chants of their own.

Demonstrator Noor Aldein Alabsi said he wasn’t surprised to see counter-protesters.

“With a campus like UA, where it’s more notoriously known for its righter-wing demographic, it was totally expected,” Alabsi said.

He’s Palestinian-American and said he has been moved by the Palestinian support from other colleges, but he doesn’t want the attention colleges are getting to distract from the war.

“The movement isn’t in solidarity with Columbia [University]. This isn’t to change the narrative or focus it on anything unrelated to Palestine,” Alabsi said.

Jewish student Noa David told WVTM the demonstration was unsettling.

“Those are some of our professors and our sorority sisters. It makes me feel unsafe like I can’t stand for what I believe in,” David said.

 

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