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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Pro-Palestine Protesters enter Altgeld Hall

Gabby Crabtree
Student Pro-Palestine protesters sit and shout “Free, Free, Free Palestine,” on Thursday. NIU students are protesting for the second day in a row. (Gabby Crabtree | Northern Star)

Editor’s note: This article was last updated at 12:35 a.m.

DeKALB – At 12:25 p.m. Thursday, student protesters began to gather at the MLK Commons stairs with snacks, chalk, posters, Palestinian flags and sunscreen.

The protest started marching toward Altgeld Hall at 3:18 p.m.

“In our millions, in our billions, we are all Palestinian,” a crowd of 21 people shouted while marching.

Once the crowd reached the front of Altgeld Hall, they stood on the circle and shouted.

“Lisa Freeman, you’re a sellout, pack your bags and get the hell out,” the crowd shouted.

At 3:30 p.m., the protesters entered Altgeld Hall and were met by Jeffery Salmon, director of the Center for Student Assistance, and Alex Pitner, director of Students Organizations.

Salmon asked if they had specific demands they wanted to deliver. Salmon took Salem and Narjis Ammar, sophomore biochemistry major and vice president of SJP, to Altgeld Hall Room 300 while the rest of the protest went to Altgeld Hall Room 315.

Liz Wright, executive assistant of the president’s office, and Carol Sumner, chief diversity officer and vice president for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, met with Salem and Ammar.

While the meeting was going on, Room 315 was filled with chants and instruments.

LaPorte was asked to stop playing his sousaphone because it was loud.

Salem said they didn’t sugarcoat their demands when explaining them to Sumner and Wright.

“They definitely got that list of demands, and they took notes. They took the document that we gave them,” Salem said to the crowd after returning from the meeting.

“NIU leaders met with students today to receive their demands and listen to their concerns,” Joe King, associate director of media relations and editorial conference, said in a university comment. ”We appreciate their demonstrated commitment to organizing and protesting in a manner that is civil, peaceful and safe.”

Wednesday, the Pro-Palestine student protesters gathered for over six hours protesting.

The Students for Justice in Palestine at NIU announced six demands for NIU including to disclose and divest its donors connected to Israel.

As of 3:13 p.m. there were 17 protesters.

Sarah Salem, a junior elementary education major and secretary of the SJP, said to the crowd that they will march toward Altgeld Hall.

“We are waiting for one of our organizers to get here and then we will go,” Salem said.

The protesters have written “Free Palestine” in English and Arabic along with “Divestment is what we want!!,” with chalk on the ground at MLK Commons.

Salem said they will protest regardless of forecasted rain and will move to Altgeld Hall Room 315, where freedom of expression is allowed inside.

“We were just kind of, a little bit more prepared in terms of food, like we asked for, you know, support, and we have a little bit more knowledge than we did from yesterday,” Salem said.

Nam Pham, a sophomore illustration major, said protesters came more prepared and learned from Wednesday after getting sunburnt.

“We got sunscreen, we all brought sunscreen, so we’re not gonna be sunburnt anymore,” Pham said.

Pham said it’s important for the protesters to keep showing up.

“It sends a message that we are here, we’re not gonna be like, shut down, we are not gonna be silenced and we are gonna keep using our voices to spread awareness about this topic,” Pham said.

Salem read poems written by her cousin, Noor Hindi, to the crowd including “F— Your Lecture on Craft, My People are Dying.”

“SJP is doing this protest today until the NIU administration answers our list of demands. So far, the administration, specifically Kelly Olson, has been working and helping us,” said Bayan Abuihmoud, a senior engineering major and president of SJP in a statement. “We’re just waiting to meet with them officially and hopefully President Freeman to discuss our concerns.”

Four people from Rockford for Palestine joined the protest along with Jovanni LaPorte, a senior music education major, who brought his sousaphone to join the march.

“This kind of politics is sort of the history of the music that I play. I am here to help bring causes and stuff toward it and I think it was kind of a cool thing to do,” LaPorte said.

The protesters left Altgeld Hall after their meeting ended and marched down Lucinda Avenue back to the MLK Commons. The NIU Police Department blocked traffic at the intersection of Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue and directed traffic West on Lucinda Avenue at the intersection with Russell Road.

When the protesters returned to the stairs at MLK Commons, the students ordered Vinny’s pizza and ate together.

A crowd of 17 people gathered at 6:15 p.m. and ate the pizza as they told stories about their family members from Palestine.

Protesters disbanded at 7:20 p.m.

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