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Students across NYC participate in walkout demanding ceasefire in Gaza, end of U.S. support

NEW YORK — Hundreds of New York City Public Schools students organized a walkout Thursday, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

They then rallied together outside of the New York Public Library in Midtown.

Students walked out of their classrooms across the five boroughs at around 11:30 a.m. and then took trains and buses for a rally outside the library and later marched down Fifth Avenue. They want the fighting between Israel and Hamas to stop.

“Everyone has the right to walk out and support what they believe in and they have the right to support what’s right. They have the right to support that what’s going on right now is not correct,” Fort Hamilton High School student Mahriaeel Fam said.

Many were in solidarity with Palestinians.

“It shows we are all a community. It shows that we are all together,” Fort Hamilton student Mahdy Shahin said.

“We’re trying to make a difference,” Hasan Anwar said.

“I think, ultimately, this is a message of peace. This is a message of saving lives,” Anysa Badran added.  

Chopper 2 was over the crowd as hundreds made their way to Manhattan and rallied on the steps of the library, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and demanding the U.S. end its support for Israel.

“We’ve called on people to walk out of work. We have called on people to walk out of their schools. Many people have responded to that call,” said Munir Marwan of the Palestinian Youth Movement.

“They have to stop the war and try to sit together for a peaceful solution that has been going on for 70 years now,” another protestor said.

The messages stopped some commuters in their tracks, including a Jewish New Yorker named Evan, who said the students did not understand what they were saying.

“I heard people chanting ‘Intifada! Intifada!’ and I was like that’s pretty crazy. I have a cousin who was murdered. She was murdered in the second Intifada,” he said. “If you’re gonna come all the way to the city to protest, you’d think they’d do a bit of research.”

The crowd eventually made its way to Bryant Park and later the New York Times building, where more demonstrators threw newspapers in the lobby and spray painted the front windows, as well as police cars.

The crowd continued on through Times Square, clashing at times with a handful of people carrying the Israeli flag, before eventually dispersing. Dozens of uniformed police officers stayed with the demonstrators throughout their entire route. The NYPD said despite the vandalism, it made no arrests.

“We know what’s right. We know what’s wrong. And we’re in a dark place and, hopefully, we have better light ahead,” protestor Uness Ahmed said.

Teachers joined the day-long demonstration, too.

“We teach our students about social justice. We teach our student critical thinking,” a woman named Brittany said. “If we can’t act on what we are teaching our students, then what are we doing?”

The held signs like “Teachers for Palestine,” and stood with their students, despite warnings from the city schools chancellor of potential violations of the Department of Education’s policy for political speech during school hours.

“It’s repression of free speech, what he’s talking about, and we stand against it,” a teacher named Angela said.

The rally came more than a month since the start of the Israel-Hamas war and followed several Palestinian and Israeli demonstrations in New York City this week.

“Students are the future. The majority of students are youth. Is it not up to us to make decisions for the future?” a student named Amud said.

According to the teachers’ union, there were some schools where students walked out, but they then went back into school. As for the teachers in attendance at the demonstration, the chancellor said he will take appropriate action on a case-by-case basis.

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