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Turning Point USA speaker Kristan Hawkins draws protest
Turning Point USA speaker Kristan Hawkins draws protest
By Emma Hannan and Kyra McCague 8:57 am
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • 2:23 am

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Turning Point USA speaker Kristan Hawkins draws protest
Turning Point USA speaker Kristan Hawkins draws protest
By Emma Hannan and Kyra McCague 8:57 am
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • 2:23 am

Pro-Palestine organizations hold die-in outside Cathedral, Bigelow Boulevard

Protesters+participate+in+a+die-in+in+front+of+the+Cathedral+of+Learning+on+Friday+at+an+event+hosted+by+Pittsburgh+Palestine+Coalition.+%28Liam+Sullivan+%7C+Staff+Photographer%29
Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer
Protesters participate in a die-in in front of the Cathedral of Learning on Friday at an event hosted by Pittsburgh Palestine Coalition. (Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer)

Around 60 people joined Pittsburgh Palestine Coalition’s die-in protest on Friday to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

Following speeches from organizers, protesters spent about 15 minutes holding a die-in on the Cathedral of Learning lawn before moving to the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard for another 15-minute die-in. 

A doctoral student at Pitt delivered the coalition’s demands which focused on Palestinian liberation and military divestment. 

“We demand Chancellor Gable, the Board of Trustees and the Vice Chancellors to immediately release a statement condemning Israeli genocidal actions, call for a permanent ceasefire, take all measures necessary to divest from arms and military manufacturing companies who work with Israel and uplift the Palestinian voices on our campus,” the student said.

The doctoral student spoke to the crowd pointing out Pitt’s lack of a public comment on the ongoing conflict in Gaza. He said it took Pitt less than a week to make a comment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Pitt has yet to make an official comment about Gaza. While both Dean Panzella and Chancellor Gabel have issued statements, the university has not publicized one on the war in Gaza since it began on Oct. 7. and the student claimed Pitt’s reticence is rooted in “white supremacy.” 

“It is a white supremacist institution,” the doctoral student said. “Just look at the demographics of the faculty and admin, over 90% are white. Their refusal to take a position about this genocide after six months is rooted in their white supremacy.” 

The University declined a request to respond to the claims. 

A police officer assists with managing traffic at the intersection of Forbes Ave and Bigelow Blvd during the die-in protest hosted by Pittsburgh Palestine Coalition on Friday. (Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer)

A group of roughly 20 pro-Israel counterprotesters showed up to the Cathedral lawn about 5 minutes after the protesters began the initial die-in. They arrived playing music by various Israeli musicians. 

Organizers from the Pittsburgh Palestinian Coalition urged those partaking in the protest to continue lying on the ground with their eyes and ears closed while the speakers engaged with the counter protesters.  

Jonah Katz, a sophomore supply chain management major, was among the counterprotesters. 

“We thought the idea of a die-in in support of Palestine was ludicrous,” Katz said. “There’s a lot of antisemitism on campus, and we’re such a small minority of the student body. We don’t have that big of a voice, and we’re trying to make that voice heard.”

While addressing the crowd, the doctoral student said the groups organized the protest to share their vision for the future. 

“We’ll stand here to emphasize the way that not tens, hundreds or thousands, but millions of Palestinians have been victimized. We will stand here to tell them that we have a vision for the future,” the student said. “Our vision is a Palestine which sings and dances for all people in a democratic and inclusive future. One day we will dance and sing in a free Palestine.”

LJ Stein, a senior gender, sexuality, and women’s studies major, said they were upset about the presence of the counterprotesters and the disruption they attempted to cause.

“As a Jewish anti-Zionist, there was an added layer of discomfort and frustration at their presence and behavior,” Stein said. “It was definitely upsetting and painful to have them jeering and laughing at us during what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration of support for Palestinians who are currently being murdered and expression of dissatisfaction at the way our country and this university are currently handling this genocide.”

Counterprotesters gather near the Cathedral of Learning and chant in opposition to the die-in protest hosted by Pittsburgh Palestine Coalition on Friday. (Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer)

Mia Suwaid, a sophomore international studies and law, criminal justice and society double major and Palestinian student, said seeing huge outpours of support for Gaza and Palestine brings her a lot of hope.

“I think Gaza and Palestine are actually bringing together humanity,” Suwaid said. “I’ve never seen this level of outward solidarity and this amount of people outwardly protesting for this cause. It’s really showing how much this is a symbol not just for Palestinian liberation, but for just liberation and anti-colonialism all over the world.” 

A Pittsburgh mother who brought both of her kids to the die-in said it is important for her to make sure her kids learn about the fight for justice and their right to peaceful protest.

“We’ve gone to a protest now in DC and here and very nice to, you know, learn about injustice from the start, so I can be the change instead of spending a lifetime on learning,” the mother said.

Protesters participate in a die-in while draped in a sign covered in names in front of the Cathedral of Learning on Friday. (Evan Fuccio | Staff Photographer) (Evan Fuccio | Staff Photographer)

About the Contributor
Colm Slevin, Assistant News Editor