Students for Justice in Palestine organized a die-in on Wednesday, Nov. 29, in front of the UC Santa Barbara Library and the Arbor to mourn the lives lost in the Gaza Strip.
A die-in is a form of protest where participants lie on the ground, posing as dead bodies. The protest was in light of the state of Israel’s continued siege of Gaza following an Oct. 7 attack on Israel by militant group Hamas.
“We have surpassed over 20,000 Palestinians that have been murdered, with thousands more unaccounted for and under the rubble,” a die-in participant who requested anonymity for safety and privacy reasons said. “This was really a way to commemorate those that have been killed during the ongoing genocide.”
“It also symbolizes UCSB’s complicity that we fund weapons manufacturers that are going to the destruction of indigenous communities across the world,” they continued.
The group of students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Arbor at 12:45 p.m. where Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) representatives addressed the crowd and spoke about the ongoing crisis and its impact laying to bare during the temporary humanitarian pause enacted on Nov. 24.
“We will recognize the state of our continued complicity in the ongoing genocide, apartheid and occupation,” an SJP representative said to the crowd.
Afterward, protestors chanted a call-and-response for 15 minutes between representatives and participants echoing in suit. The chants were original writings of SJP members.
“We carry forward the labor and contribution of Palestinians for more than the last 100 years,” participants chanted. “We are the swan song of liberation.”
Representatives named the following organizations that have expressed solidarity with the Gaza Strip: Academics for Justice in Palestine UCSB, El Congreso de UCSB, Associated Students (A.S.) Student Commission on Racial Equity, Environmental Justice Alliance, Lebanese Social Club, Mauna Kea Protectors, Mujeres Unidas por Justicia, Educación y Revolución, Collective of Pueblos Originarios in Diaspora, Queer & Trans Graduate Student Union, Muslim Student Association, Afghan Student Association, Jewish Voices for Peace, Black Student Union and A.S. Black Women’s Health Collaborative.
“We are the slow river of humanity,” the chants continued. “We are the deep sea of resilience.”
Participants laid on the ground for 30 minutes in silence, holding signs symbolizing the lives lost in the crisis. Other attendees stood in a circle encapsulating those performing the die-in and holding banners that said, “Climate change is genocide, ceasefire now,” “Generation after generation until total liberation” and “End the siege of Gaza now.” Those in the circle directed passers-by around the demonstration as it continued.
The die-in attendee spoke to the demonstration occurring in light of the humanitarian pause to shed light on the damage that has already been done.
“We want to show that even during a humanitarian pause, there are still Palestinians being killed,” they said.
“This is a perfect way to mourn those that have been killed, but also really show the student body and admin that we’re still here and we’re still fighting for our people.”
After the half-hour, participants stood up in silence and repeated the chants to the growing crowd of onlookers.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants who have taught, who have written, who have supported, who have struggled, who have spoken of Palestine, slowly, repeatedly, unfailingly, expectantly, in the same breath of the other struggles for justice,” participants chanted.
The die-in attendee resonated with the chanted lines in regards to the current campus climate amidst the ongoing crisis.
“They’re made to show that we are stronger than the intimidation that the school scientists want to use against us,” they said. “We have the community and we’ve been building this movement since 1948.”
“No matter how much people try to dehumanize our existence or weaponize our language, we’re here to stay,” the attendee continued. “When the crowd’s repeating [the lines] and just hearing that, we know we will return all together.”
The attendee also emphasized the necessity of solidarity across student organizations toward Palestinian liberation, saying that various social movements have inherent ties with one another and sustainment only comes from cross-group unity.
“When one org is attacked, they’re really attacking all these orgs because our missions are the same and our goals and our liberation are all connected. We have to show up for each other,” they said.
“Repression is at an all-time high … [but] we are here and we’re not going anywhere.”
As the die-in closed off, the protestors belted the last lines of the chant.
“We will return to our promise, to our persistence. We will return to our learning, to our solidarity. We will return to our vision of the future, to our self-awareness. We will return every day and every night. And, one day, we will see Palestinians return to the lands and waters of Palestine, when occupation and apartheid, colonialism and partition, Zionism and militarism and every single racist wall, will crumble by our hands. We will raise the power to the sky,” protestors chanted.
“One day, we will see all the trees bloom with the waters of Palestine and the blessing of those we have lost. One day, we will send postcards, write letters and send gifts to the addresses in free Palestine. To the undeniable freedom of Palestine. To the unmoved in Gaza. To the unshaken love for Palestine and Palestinians from the streets of the world. From occupied Turtle Island to occupied Palestine. Free Palestine.”