Connect with us

Education

A day after student protesters were arrested, activist Angela Davis tells them they are leading a “breakthrough”

Published

on

/ 695 Views

In the few minutes that longtime political activist Angela Davis spoke to student protesters in Denver under a gray sky Saturday afternoon, she raised up their efforts as those that will be responsible for the change the world has long needed, branding it “the moment we have all been waiting for.”

Davis, a renowned professor and author who was part of the Communist Party and the Black Panther Party, stopped by the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver where students, faculty and community members have been demonstrating since Thursday, calling for the University of Colorado — located on the campus — to divest from companies operating in Israel. Since Oct. 7, Israel has been at war with Hamas after gunmen launched an attack on Israel, killing more than 1,200 people.

“I want to emphasize what this means for History,” Davis told a crowd of more than 200 while visiting campus after speaking at Colorado College on Friday. “As you imagine this period being narrated 10 years, 20 years, 50 years from now, you will be the historical actors who made it possible for a breakthrough in the struggle against Zionism, the struggle to free Palestine.”

Those in the audience met her words with rounds of applause as she told them they — along with their peers at universities across the country, such as Columbia University, Brown University and New York University — are rising up to advance her own work to free Palestine going back to the 1960s.

Angela Davis speaks to the crowd of encamped demonstrators on Saturday, April 27, 2024 on the Auraria Campus’ Tivoli Quad in downtown Denver. Protesters crowded around her, eager for her remarks, and cheered as she commended their focus on standing in solidarity with Gaza alongside college students across the country. (Alex Petrich, Special to the Colorado Sun)

“I cannot tell you how you make me feel,” Davis said, “because after having struggled for decades and decades, I realize that this is what we’ve been struggling for and I stand here not as an individual but to bear witness for all of those who have been involved in this struggle to generate solidarity with Palestine, justice for Palestine, freedom for Palestine. And if Palestine can be free, then the entire world can be free.”

Students responded to the end of Davis’ speech with a chant that carried far across the quad: “Gaza, Gaza, you will rise. Palestine will never die.”

Despite the dozens of arrests made Friday afternoon, student demonstrators continued to stay in the encampment Friday night and Saturday, holing up in their tents through thunderstorms that turned to snow Saturday morning before easing into a slight drizzle in the afternoon. The students’ energy never waned as they remain resolved in a set of demands they have issued to the University of Colorado: a meeting with Chancellor Michelle Marks within the next two weeks, transparency about the relationships the university has with companies operating in Israel and a university statement joining students in demanding a ceasefire and condemning the genocide in Gaza.

Student demonstrators wasted no time during the first hours of the weekend preparing for another active — and soggy — day of banding together in support of Gaza. They trudged across the slushy ground helping one another set up new tents, dry out those that made it through the night, clear snow and ensure everyone had the supplies they needed to maintain the encampment.

A demonstrator carries a Palestinian flag through an encampment April 27, 2024, at the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, where protesters — including students, faculty and community members — have come together to show their support for Gaza and call for the University of Colorado to divest from companies operating in Israel. (Erica Breunlin, The Colorado Sun)

The number of protesters continued to balloon throughout the day, growing from a few dozen in the morning to at least a couple hundred students and community members crowding around a lineup of speakers in the afternoon while huddling under umbrellas, ponchos, hats and jacket hoods. At one point, they broke out in song: “Raising our voices higher and higher. No more war. We call for a ceasefire.”

Other chants escalated in the moments between each speaker as protesters cried out, “From Yemen to Palestine, imperialism is a crime. From Palestine to Mexico, all these walls have got to go.”

Davis’ words followed impassioned remarks from Colorado leaders, who thanked Denver students for joining other campuses across the country in calling for the U.S. to end its support of Israel in attacking Gaza.

Demonstrators on Denver’s Auraria Campus listen to activist Angela Davis during her remarks to the crowd on April 27, 2024. Protesters stayed on campus through thunderstorms Friday night and snow Saturday morning, refusing to give up demonstrating even after about 40 protesters were arrested Friday. (Alex Petrich, Special to the Colorado Sun)

State Rep. Iman Jodeh, who is Palestinian and an Aurora Democrat, denounced state and national leaders in failing to listen to and cooperate with students on campuses advocating for peace in Gaza and said they have violated the legacy of Colorado and the country.

“Here’s the problem,” she told the audience. “We have taken our demands, we have taken this legacy to the halls of Congress, to the people in power, to those making those laws. And what have we been met with? Violence, oppression, disrespect, closed doors in our faces.”

“But now we are taking that protest to the halls of our universities,” Jodeh said. “If our leaders cannot make the change that we need to see in Washington, then we are going to demand it from our teachers. We are going to demand that this is what they teach: They teach truth, they teach history and they teach that genocide should not be the legacy of this nation.”

“We can face a little arrest and deprivation of our constitutional rights”

Meanwhile, community members showed up to campus throughout the day to deliver food, coffee and other basic necessities to protesters, doing what they could to help those in the encampment continue bearing the elements. They brought pizza, warm homemade rice pudding, congee, gauze bandages, hand warmers and ponchos. One woman even offered to pick up wet socks from protesters to wash them.

Among those donating was Alison Krimsky, a Los Angeles resident who plans to move to Denver in July and stopped by the quad Saturday morning while visiting.

Krimsky came with friends and her mutt, Miro, who was ready to greet any demonstrators in need of the kind of comfort only a dog can provide. Krimsky donated blankets, towels, socks, tissues, ponchos and a pack of masks to students. 

☀️ READ MORE

Food is money for Colorado farmers and ranchers. Here’s how the ag census report says they’re doing. 

Bird flu detected in Colorado dairy herd, widening nationwide outbreak among cattle

Colorado legislature’s property tax plan is in 11th-hour limbo after state commission balks at draft proposal

“I am absolutely just floored with how diligent and consistent people have been in standing up for Palestinians, and especially as a Jewish person seeing the conflation of Zionism and Judaism is so scary to me,” she said. “And it blows my mind seeing so many people stand up and say, ‘No, this is not what Judaism is about. This is not what people are about.’”

Krimsky said the pro-Palestinian demonstrations sweeping college campuses across the country are like nothing she’s ever experienced in her lifetime. She compares the protests to demonstrations against the Vietnam War that she has read about in history books.

Trending