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MX News Update 2024

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March, rally held in support of Palestine

May 7—About 35 people gathered in Muller Plaza Tuesday, May 7 to protest the Israel-Hamas war and bring attention to the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict.

The local march and rally in support of Palestine was organized by a group of Hartwick students and attended by students from both Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta, as well as several greater Oneonta community members.

Hamas — the militant group that governs the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip in Palestine — led an attack on Israel Oct. 7 that resulted in the massacre of more than 1,000 in Israeli civilian communities.

In response, the monthslong Israeli offensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Israel has long been the leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid, including military support, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Rally participants gathered at a spot near the Hartwick College. After marching through Oneonta’s residential area, they assembled in Muller Plaza for chanting, speeches, sign waving and flag flying.

Hartwick senior Jasmin Ahmed said that the event was an exercise in the First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and protest.

“Each and every one of you are standing up for the people of Palestine,” she said. “You are raising your voice in solidarity with their struggle, and we are all working tirelessly, whether it’s exposing the news, educating each other, educating our friends, our families — we’re all doing it. We are all here amplifying their voices, because no one else is doing it.”

Eugene Marner, of Oneonta, has been organizing weekly rallies in support of Palestine in Muller Plaza.

He said what brought him to the march was “what brings me out everyday to Main Street, which is genocide in Gaza.”

Ambreen Ahmad, of Oneonta, said that the inhumanity of children dying in Gaza drew her to protest.

“It’s just insane what’s happening since October, and there’s been no ceasefire since then,” she said.

Oneonta police officers made one arrest, which occurred before the march began.

Police Chief Christopher Witzenburg and Lt. Eric Berger arrested a person, who did not provide his name to police, for skateboarding in the road and resisting arrest.

While skateboarding on the sidewalk on the sidewalk was allowed in the area of the arrest, skateboarding in the street was not.

Witzenburg said he was ticketed and released, and was observed in Muller Plaza as the rally concluded. Police did not immediately respond to a request Monday for the man’s name and identifying information.

Witzenburg added that the police presence at the start of the rally and along the march route was about making sure it was a safe event.

“We’re just here to make sure we don’t have counter-people coming up and doing dumb stuff that’s going to create problems,” he said.

Tensions have continued to ratchet up in standoffs with protesters on campuses across the U.S. — and increasingly, in Europe — nearly three weeks into a movement launched by a protest at Columbia University.

Some colleges have cracked down immediately on protests against the Israel-Hamas war. Among those that have tolerated the tent encampments, some have begun to lose patience and call in police over concerns about disruptions to campus life, safety and the involvement of nonstudents.

Since April 18, just over 2,600 people have been arrested on the campuses of 50 colleges and universities, according to figures based on Associated Press reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.

But not all schools are taking that approach.

The president at Wesleyan University, a liberal arts school in Connecticut, has commended the on-campus demonstration — which includes a pro-Palestinian tent encampment — as an act of political expression.

Activists at Wesleyan and some other schools have been left to hold rallies and organize their camps as they see fit. The encampment has grown from about 20 tents a week ago to more than 100.