Protesters blocked three lanes on Central Avenue early Thursday afternoon after congregating in Zimmerman Plaza in solidarity with Palestinians.
Students walked out of class and demanded a ceasefire on their march through campus and Central to support the freedom of Palestine, demanding that the ongoing conflict in Gaza cease.
Various student organizations including the Kiva Club and Students for Socialism were among those that helped Samidoun – the Palestine Prisoner Solidarity Network – stage their second protest in the span of a week.
Alicia Gallegos, a member of the Kiva Club, shared how the experience of indigenous people intersects with Palestinians – holding a special significance in New Mexico.
“The liberation of Palestine is connected to the liberation of indigenous people everywhere,” Gallegos said. “We want land back for Palestine and for indigenous people.”
Traffic stopped for over 30 minutes in front of Q Station while protesters gathered to hear various speakers – sharing local, Palestinian and Tiwa perspectives. Malayla Peixhno, a leader of the protest’s tactical force, said Q station was a specific choice because of its link to Kirtland Air Force Base and alleged relation to weapons production.
“It's a place where private companies can meet to collaborate on new technology for war,” Peixhno said.
Lindsey Mink, the student President of Hillel – a Jewish Student organization – discussed nuances of the conflict with the Daily Lobo over email. “There are still 240 innocent Israelis being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas,” Mink wrote.
Sara Koplik, the director of Hillel at University of New Mexico, is concerned with how education regarding the conflict is fostered on campus with minimal classes being taught on the subject. “There is one class on the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Koplik said.
Amit Sadan, the professor for the course, wrote that his class shows that “both sides have been victims and perpetrators at different points, and intervention from the outside world has had a major impact – at times bringing the opposing sides closer together, and at other times escalating the hostilities,” Sadan wrote.
“It is very important for students to learn in a rigorous academic framework with balance, perspective and high standards,” Koplik said.
Fahra Alqawasmi, a Palestinian UNM student, said that she came to this university because it supports minorities and that it understands the value of being a minority and the struggles that they have.
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UNM is a minority-serving institution. “64.3% of enrolled undergraduates are from ethnic minority groups,” according to the Office of Institutional Analytics.
Being a minority serving institution Alqawasmi said, "Is really important for students to have a place to have their voices amplified and have their voices heard.”
Alexandre Chino is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo
Editors note 11/15/23: A different version of this article had a misspelling of Fahra Alqawasmi, name it has since been corrected.