After months of expressing solidarity and support over social media, activists from Ferguson, St. Louis and Palestine have connected in person.
Ten Palestinian students from the Right to Education Campaign (R2E) in the West Bank visited with local organizers in the movements for VonDerrit Myers, Jr. and Mike Brown in St. Louis last weekend.
The students, who are from Birzeit University in Palestine, met with members of the Don’t Shoot Coalition, Tribe X, Freedom Fighters STL, in addition to VonDerrit’s parents and other community supporters at the one-month vigil and demonstration against his killing
For many of the students, the messages of the community members and the issues they described facing were reminiscent of Palestine.
“We at Palestinian protests against Israel get faced by tear gas, bombs, and bullets,” said Emad Nazzal, a junior studying mechatronics. “[When] black people do that, when they ask for justice, they face the same oppression we face—they face the same injustice that we face.”
Mahmoud Daghlas, a senior in electrical engineering commented on the immense amount of love he witnessed in the community.
“The most touching experience we had [was] the vigil in St. Louis and the demonstration we participated in and all the love on the streets that we experienced from all of these freedom fighters—I would call them that, yes,” he started. “It was really great and that touched us all. That was the experience of a lifetime. Most Americans won’t get the chance to do it and we are really honored by that.”
For Shatha Hammad, a third year English Literature student, the unity of the St. Louis community in the face of violence and oppression was inspiring.
“It was an experience that renewed something inside me,” Hammad said. “As a Palestinian I see people every day getting killed and all my rights are violated. I don’t have any rights basically. For a moment there I got used to it. But at the vigil when I saw everything and heard the people talk, something woke up inside me and said “You suffer from that and these people suffer from that, so you better stand next to each other and do something.”
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