UC Santa Barbara Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Student Association and Afghan Student Association organized a “March for Palestine” protest on Oct. 21 starting at the Student Resources Building and ending at Campbell Hall. The march was followed by a Liberation Concert in Campbell Hall.
The march was held in response to ongoing tensions between Palestinians and the State of Israel, following an Oct. 7 attack on Israel by militant group Hamas killing 1,400 Israeli civilians and subsequent Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians killing 4,300 civilians. Community members protested against Israeli occupation of Palestine and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war, as well as the University of California’s response to the conflict.
UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) posted a letter on Oct. 17, condemning the University of California Board of Regents for their statement on Israel. The statement — in collaboration with SJP groups across other UC campuses — demanded a formal apology and divestment from corporations profiting off of the occupation of Palestine.
“This statement directly targets Palestinian students by exposing them to harassment, discrimination and implicit normalization of physical and rhetorical violence/racism against Palestinans and those in solidarity with their cause,” the letter read.
Students and community members gathered at the Student Resource Building on Saturday at 5 p.m., with signs and flags in support of Palestine. A representative from SJP addressed the crowd with a call to action to advocate for Palestinian liberation.
“We gather today because the people of Gaza have taught us over the past week and the past 16 years what it means to be resilient and proud, and what it means to be persistent in struggle,” the representative said.
The crowd then participated in a call and response chant stating, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
The group then proceeded to march to Campbell Hall reciting chants such as “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” “From Palestine to the Philippines, stop the U.S. war machine,” “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes” and “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.”
In a statement to the Nexus, members of the Afghan Student Association (ASA) expressed their solidarity with SJP in hosting the march and said the Palestinian liberation movement reflects the struggle of the Afghani people.
“We have always stood in solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine because the Palestinian struggle is a mirror image of Afghanistan’s own struggle for freedom from exploitation,” the statement read.
“The U.S. fueled, funded and profited off of what happened in Afghanistan and, for these same reasons, the U.S. continues to support Israel, entirely ignoring well-documented war crimes that respected organizations like Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Center of Human Rights have denounced,” the statement continued.
Muslim Student Association did not reply to immediate requests for comment.
After the conclusion of the march at Campbell Hall’s steps, a Liberation Concert organized by a UCSB professor was held inside featuring musical performances by Anwar Hadid and his band Oswald, Slum Prophecy, imKENNETHY and Ozella.
The stage was opened to audience members to share their personal experiences.
One individual shared their grief over recent familial loss in Palestine.
“I have family in Gaza, so far we lost 13 people and we don’t know how many more because communication has been cut off. It makes me incredibly angry and upset to see my people dehumanized in the eyes of the West,” they said.
Another individual requested a moment of silence for the death of their classmate.
“I lost my classmate back in Palestine…he died fighting for freedom. And yesterday my brother went to Cyprus, and he had a friend that lived in Gaza, and yesterday his whole family was wiped out by a rocket in Gaza, and he was the only one that stayed alive,” they said.
The professor shared some words of wisdom on how to combat oppression and urged people not to stop advocating for liberation in Palestine and across the world.
“What police states want is for you to live in fear. They want you to live in a state of perpetual mourning because perpetual mourning stunts the growth of the human spirit. And when the human spirit is stunted, it is incapable of demanding its naturally given right which is freedom,” they said.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Oct. 26, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.