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National protests spread to Miami’s campus

Members of SJP sat outside Roudebush hall on April 19 in solidarity with student protestors across the country.
Members of SJP sat outside Roudebush hall on April 19 in solidarity with student protestors across the country.

In the past weeks, student protesters in support of Palestine at Columbia University and New York University erected encampments in solidarity and were arrested for breaking university guidelines. On Miami University’s campus, more than 15 students participated in a walkout on April 19 in support of students who were arrested at Columbia. The event was arranged by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and took place between Roudebush Hall and the seal in the center of academic quad on Miami’s campus.

Jacky Linden, the director of advocacy for SJP, spent the three hours when students were sitting on the sidewalk making signs and posting a QR code that sends users to fundraising sites for Columbia students who were arrested.

Photo by Kasey Turman | The Miami Student
Students made signs to protest the arrest of students at Columbia University in April.

“We're here to raise funds for bail for the students who've been arrested solely for exploiting their First Amendment rights,” Linden said. “We will not be silenced. We will keep speaking out about the atrocities happening in Gaza, whether college administrations like it or not.”

Linden said the group was able to organize the event quickly because of the tight-knit nature of its members. When deciding on what to do, Linden said the group wanted to show solidarity in the “quickest, least dangerous” way possible.

Within a block, three Miami police cars sat facing the group. Maysa Constandinidis, the president of SJP, said the group attracts a police presence no matter what members do.

“[Police] tend to say it's for our safety, but we know that is not the case,” Constandinidis said. “We are only students here making signs. It's really frustrating to us because they see us as a threat and treat us as a threat, but then they say it's for our safety and they say we're not a threat.”

Constandinidis said the group gained more than 100 members since October and now has roughly 130 members.

One of those members is Darek Sanabria Valderrama, the upcoming treasurer for SJP, who said the event attracted students who weren’t already in the group.

“We have cardboard that I’m going to cut up to make signs in a minute, but it's been really good so far,” Sanabria Valderrama said. “We had someone who was just walking to class who wanted to join in.”

The event lasted from noon to 3 p.m. before students left the area with their signs and flags.

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