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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

BREAKING: Palestine protesters have multiple demands for NIU

Totus Tuus Keely
Protesters gather at the MLK Commons Wednesday in support of Palestine. The protest began at 12:30 p.m. with protesters chanting while others played instruments to attempt to gather more of an attention during Food Truck Wednesday. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

Correction: This piece was updated at 11:58 a.m. to remove incorrect information, according to a statement from NIU, regarding an alleged meeting between NIU representatives and Pro-Palestine protesters.

DeKALB – NIU student protesters plan to occupy part of the MLK Commons until the university responds to their demands.

The protest started at 12:30 p.m. during Food Truck Wednesday on Normal Road. 

Senior mechatronics engineering student Aleena Siddiqui said the protesters plan on staying until their demands are met.

A graphic shows the six demands of the NIU Palestine protestors. Student protesters plan to occupy the stairs at MLK Commons until the university meets their demands. (Screenshot via @spj.niu on Instagram)

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A post shared by NIU SJP (@sjp.niu)

“We are holding an occupation of the stairs in the MLK Commons to show our stance and to have the university listen to what we have to say,” Siddiqui said. “We have a list of demands that we want the university to follow.”

According to the Students for Justice in Palestine Instagram, they have six demands including joining the call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

As of 2:37 p.m., 27 people occupied a section of the MLK Commons chanting “justice is our demand, no peace on stolen land,” and “the people, united, will never be defeated.”

At 4:44 p.m. there were 32 people occupying MLK Commons.

Students hold hands and walk in a circle. During the Palestine protest on Wednesday, students danced to Arabic music. (Gabby Crabtree | Northern Star) (Gabby Crabtree)

Students with hand drums, a tambourine, a flute and a trombone played along with chants.

Protesters played the national anthem of Palestine and Arabic music while dancing.

Chips and water were passed out to people who were attending.

This is not the first protest to happen at NIU for Palestine. Protests started on campus Jan. 25 and since then have grown to have a club, Students for Justice in Palestine. On Monday, NIU protesters marched around campus for the first time.

Universities across the United States have seen an increase in student action supporting Palestine from the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Students have taken larger steps to protest their universities involvement in the war due to donations with demonstrators staging encampments and occupying buildings at their colleges to protest.

There were rumors of members setting up an encampment in the MLK Commons, but Sarah Salem, a junior elementary education major and secretary of the SJP club,  said although the group did not have the resources to stay overnight, they planned to come back every day until their demands were met.

“If you actually look inside the encampments there’s people that are reading together, that are sharing resources and eating together. They’re painting together, they’re reading, that is what liberation looks like,” Salem said.

The protest took to the streets and marched onto Lucinda Avenue with a group of 24 students. With the school day at a close, a line of over 10 cars quickly backed up down Lucinda, including two NIU Huskie Buses and a police vehicle following the procession.

The delay caused one driver at the front to honk at the group until they were able to pass. Other drivers waved as the group finally turned at University Circle off of Lucinda Avenue.

An NIU police vehicle trailed the group flashing its lights, when the march continued to interrupt the route of three Huskie Buses.

When the group turned toward Cole Hall the buses and police vehicles were able to move past them.

The protesters walked toward the Stevens Building, visiting the Center of Black Studies and getting the attention of students attending a barbecue before circling back toward Normal Road.

The group reconvened at 5:35 p.m. after a break and marched toward Altgeld Hall with hopes of the NIU administration hearing their cries.

NIU Students stand on the stairs outside MLK Commons and protest in solidarity with Palestine. Students plan to occupy the stairs until the university meets their six demands. (Gabby Crabtree | Northern Star) (Gabby Crabtree)

While no officials were inside, the group continued to rally chanting “Viva Viva Palestina.”

When the group marched in the street, gathering the attention of the incoming vehicles, Siddiqui said she wasn’t scared when cars began to honk at them.

“I’ve kind of grown up with a mindset that people are going to judge me based on how I look, so I might as well give them a reason to,” Siddiqui said. “So I might as well stand up for what I believe in and let people judge me for that other than, you know, the skin and the hijab I wear.”

The group agreed to meet again around noon Thursday in the MLK Commons and travel to Altgeld Hall again when officials would be inside to protest.

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