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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Pro-Palestine supporters rally at Memorial Park

Sean Reed
A crowd of people protest in support of Palestine. Protesters flew Palestinian flags and waved signs at Memorial Park on Sunday. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – “Not a penny, not a dollar; we won’t pay for cost of slaughter” was chanted by approximately 80 people Sunday at Memorial Park, 101 E. Lincoln Highway.

At 2:30 p.m. NIU students, DeKalb residents and people from the surrounding area gathered with Palestinian flags and signs that blew in the wind. 

There were also tambourines, megaphones and a fake baby to represent the children being killed. 

DeKalb resident Beck Garcia put together the event with help from some friends.

“Annually, over $580,000 of DeKalb’s federal tax dollars fund the death and destruction of those in Palestine,” Garcia said. 

Free water bottles and shirts that read “ALL EYES ON PALESTINE” were given out to those in attendance.

Shrestha Singh, a DeKalb resident who helped plan the protest, said the protest took about two weeks to put together.

Shrestha Singh (left), a DeKalb resident and a planner for the protest stands and addressed the crowd with Rev. John C. Dorhauer of the United Church of Christ. DeKalb had a protest against the United States funding Israel with approximately 80 supporters. (Sean Reed | Northern Star) (Sean Reed)

“I’m just grateful for all these people who showed so much passion and energy,” Singh said. “It’s definitely not Chicago and thousands of people, but I think for DeKalb, this is impressive.”

Halfway through the protest, people crowded around the clock tower for speeches.

The Rev. John C. Dorhauer of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb spoke to the crowd and said he has been in Gaza and Palestine and witnessed people dying at the hands of the Israeli military. 

“As a white, American, Christian citizen, the blood of these innocent Gazan and Palestinian citizens is on my hands,” Dorhauer said.

All throughout the protest cars driving by honked and shouted out their windows in support while stopped at the red light.

The protest had a range of people from an 8-month-old baby to the elderly. There were even protesters from Palestine.

Ahmed Elqattawi, an NIU Curriculum and Cultural Pedagogies in Social Justice masters student, spoke at the event about growing up in Palestine.

“Imagine you have been living in DeKalb for like 16 years under siege but you are not allowed to visit the other cities in Illinois or the other states around Illinois or even traveled outside the United States to visit other countries,” Elqattawi said.

Elqattawi said he left his home country when the sadness was too much to handle. 

“This did not start on October the 7th, I survived five major Israeli aggressions in my city and all those aggressions in between,” Elqattawi said.

Dorhauer said he has been to Gaza and Palestine a half a dozen times.

“I’ve heard the testimony of a woman in Ramallah whose 7-year-old son was gunned down in the back by an Israeli soldier who will never face trial for the crime that he committed, ” said Dorhauer.

Nam Pham, a sophomore illustration major, performs a Poi twirl with a Palestinian flag. There were 14 different flags during the rally and Pham helped some attendees learn how to twirl. (Sean Reed | Northern Star) (Sean Reed)

Nam Pham, a sophomore illustration major, spun a Palestinian flag on the corner and taught other protesters how to as well. 

“I’m here just to show, like, some support in solidarity with the Palestinian movement, notice genocide going on and along with the lot of people in DeKalb to try and raise awareness,” Pham said.

Imaan Tran, executive director of the American Civic and Humanitarian Coalition, said she and her group were invited to DeKalb for the protest.

“I know that DeKalb is a pretty small, isolated town, so I wanted to bring that and unify us even more as Illinois suburbs,” Tran said.

NIU students have been hosting weekly protests in support of Palestine. 

“There has been months and months of endless killing and genocide in Gaza and that is funded by U.S. tax dollars,” Singh said. “We are tired of being complicit in that and tired of all the death, all the destruction, the forced starvation, the human rights abuses. So we’re all gathering together to protest for a permanent ceasefire, for us to not be sending more military aid to Israel, and for an end to the genocide.”

The protest cleared at 5 p.m.

Garcia organizes a Facebook group where upcoming events in DeKalb and information about the conflict is posted.

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