Atlanta students rally against police training in Israel, suppression of campus activism – Mondoweiss
On November 9, 2023 Atlanta activists and students from universities across Atlanta, including Georgia State University, Emory, the Atlanta University Center, and Georgia Tech, rallied in opposition to the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) as part of the November 9 international “Shut It Down for Palestine” day of action and the week of action. The students and other Atlanta residents demanded the end of this police exchange program, in which Atlanta Police Department officers train with the Israeli Occupation Forces to learn strategies and techniques to suppress local liberation movements, including the fight to Stop Cop City.
While the students rallied outside, activists from organizations including Atlanta Jews Against Genocide, Community Movement Builders, the Ruckus Society, Blackout Collective, Movement for Black Lives, and the Black Alliance for Peace disrupted the GILEE headquarters, holding a press conference and spreading the names of the ten thousand Palestinians killed by the zionist occupiers over the past month. A banner drop also took place inside the building at the same time.
In addition to opposing GILEE, students were concerned about, in their words, “rampant militarization and the suppression of student voices.”
“As the calls for a ceasefire in Palestine grow and the Anti-War movement gains more traction, there is a sustained effort to silence the voices of peace activists – especially on college campuses,” said Anwar Karim, an organizer from Morehouse College in the AUC.
Students engaged in a rally at the GSU ‘Green Space’, which is a small park next to the GSU library and a central location for the campus, before moving into a peaceful march toward Woodruff Park a few blocks away.
While far-right actors on the internet engage in doxxing and violent threats, student organizers across the country feel threatened and intimidated. Additionally, there is a record of overt repression against student peace activists across the country coming from academic institutions in many forms, such as:
● Retaliating through frivolous disciplinary action
● Refusing to punish harmful actions of the few counter demonstrators
● Mislabeling students as ‘hateful’ or ‘prejudice’
● Targeting radical professors and staff supportive of student activism
● Defunding programs that encourage free thinking and dissent
● Intentionally misrepresenting the beliefs of student peace activists and misinterpreting political slogans/phrases
● Inviting police to crack down on peaceful assemblies
● Sabotaging outreach, canvassing, and organizing efforts
Atlanta students report some of these same actions seen nationally happening on their campuses, such as GSU. Information shared by faculty and staff members suggests GSU has also begun floating plans to completely defund its Africana Studies Program – conveniently after many of its members became active in various student campaigns such as ‘Stop Cop City’ and ‘Students for Justice in Palestine.’
Malik Poole, also an organizer based out of Morehouse, says, “All of these demonstrable and verifiable facts paint a clear picture that must be acknowledged. There is a sustained effort to stifle dissent against militarization and state violence. This effort is both local to Atlanta and international in scope – GILEE only exists to import oppressive urban warfare tactics from overseas. This effort is multifaceted – it involves the militarization of American Police, collaboration with occupiers and war criminals like the IDF, and the suppression of free speech both in the streets and on our college campuses.”
Poole continued, “The effort to defund Africana Studies at GSU is a direct response to the department’s consistent support for student movements and solidarity with liberation struggles. Students had to fight and protest for Africana Studies to exist and for free speech protections on campus in the first place, Students will fight and protest to keep Africana Studies and expand First Amendment protections. This sustained effort by multiple parties on multiple fronts to oppose free speech/democracy and to support further militarization is nothing short of a push toward fascism – regardless of if those parties are aware of it. The people, everywhere, have a right and a duty to oppose fascism.”
At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever.
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