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Palestinian groups hold 'Justice for Palestine' protest at the Capitol

October 29, 2023
<p>East Lansing residents, members of Students United for Palestine and people from the Islamic Center of East Lansing gather on the Lansing Capitol lawn on Oct. 29, 2023.</p>

East Lansing residents, members of Students United for Palestine and people from the Islamic Center of East Lansing gather on the Lansing Capitol lawn on Oct. 29, 2023.

Photo by PJ Pfeiffer | The State News

"What we want is total freedom!"

Over 400 people shouted this at the Michigan Capitol on Oct. 29 at noon to support Palestinians amidst ongoing conflict with Israel.

In coordination with Students United for Palestine, or SUPR, at Michigan State University, the Islamic Center of East Lansing organized the "Justice for Palestine" protest to "stop the genocide" and to "tell Biden and all elected officials" to ceasefire. 

Many attendees in support of Palestine were wearing or waving the Palestine flag, throwing a fist in the air or holding signs. Some of the signs from the protest included messages like "ceasefire now," "end decades of oppression now" and "genocide is a war crime."

SUPR Vice President Omar Mahmoud said that even though he was born and raised in East Lansing, his roots go back to Palestine, which is the main reason he is passionate about fighting for Palestinian rights. Mahmoud said so many people residing in Palestine, even children, are constantly in danger.

"Every single day, we are seeing clips of families being torn apart, babies being blown to bits by bombs dropped by the Israeli army," Mahmoud said. "There is nowhere safe for the Palestinian people."

The war between Israel and Hamas started after an incursion by Hamas militants into Israeli towns. Since the attack, Israel has launched airstrikes on Gaza.

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Protestors hold up their posters during the Palestinian protest on Oct. 29, 2023.

"Free, free Palestine! Long live Palestine!" Hundreds chanted in unison after one of the various speakers shared their insights.

Most of the speakers – either from the Greater Lansing Islamic Center, SUPR or other organizations around Michigan – said the United States government is not helping Palestine. Many said they were upset by government administrators who are allowing the United States to aid Israel.

One person who is passionate about this issue is Sarah Hopkins, a Lansing resident who attended the protest in support of Palestine. Hopkins said she wants to see the administration have better decision-making when it comes to helping countries, especially in this conflict. 

"I think what's happening overseas in Gaza right now is wrong," Hopkins said. "It's genocide, and I’m unhappy with our administration's response to all of that. I just want to stand with people, with civilians and with innocent people who didn't do anything wrong to deserve the atrocities that are happening."

Lansing resident Fabio Alonza said the U.S. should be doing something else to help the people of Palestine. Alonza said that because he is an American and his taxes "go to fighting this war," he wants President Joe Biden to ceasefire and instead help Palestine.

"I am here today because of what's going on in Gaza because we have to do something to try and stop this," Alonza said. "This is a genocide happening and we have to do something. I think if there is a massive injustice being perpetuated somewhere, we have to try to do something."

Other chants being yelled throughout the protest focused on Biden and the U.S. government's efforts in helping Israel. 

"Biden Biden, you can't hide. You are funding genocide."

"No more money for Israel's crimes."

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Protest for Palestine organized by Students United for Palestine and Islamic Center of East Lansing on Oct. 29, 2023.

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