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Fresno State Shows the Nation How a Peaceful Palestinian Protest is Done
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 weeks ago on
May 1, 2024
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Student protesters decry the devastation to Palestinian schools and universities caused by Israeli forces in Gaza, Wednesday May 1, 2024. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

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A peaceful pro-Palestinian sit-in at Fresno State on Wednesday lived up to its billing.

“We want a cease-fire, and we just want a free … Palestine to go home to.” — Sarama, a student participant in Wednesday’s pro-Palestinian sit-in

There was no violence or barricades. And, a majority of the speeches and chants — including “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — didn’t start until more than an hour after the event started.

Just as the violent protests at UCLA and Columbia represent one end of the extreme, Fresno State’s sit-in represents the other.

Students for Palestinian Liberation gathered at 1 p.m. at the Peace Garden on campus, next to the library. About 60 demonstrated rather quietly, as another 100 faculty, students and community members watched in support.

“That was just our choice … as student organizers, to do a peaceful sit-in, because we believe that it still holds the power of encampments,” said Haneen, an organizer who did not want to reveal her last name.

Ayah Sarama, a student, held a large Palestinian flag.

“I’m Palestinian, so I’ve personally seen the occupation that they have undergone for over 75 years. We are out here to basically give an end to the genocide. We want a cease-fire, and we just want a free … Palestine to go home to,” Sarama said.

Dozens of students at Fresno State hold a peaceful sit-in supporting Palestine, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (David Taub/GV Wire)

Fresno State President Appears

University President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval appeared, talking with the protesters. He said he was just there to speak with his students. He has met with protest groups in the past.

“They want information and they want people to know their side. So, if it’s student led, I am keen on supporting my students,” Jiménez-Sandoval told reporters.

Organizer Haneen (left) meets with Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Hamas Talk Absent

No protester or speaker talked about Hamas — the terrorist government of Gaza that instigated the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel that started the latest war in the region.

Seja, another student organizer who did not want to provide her last name, said the event was in support of the Palestinian people.

Asked how Hamas fit into liberating the Palestinian people, Seja responded “We are here in support of Gaza.”

Faculty Present

Several members of the Fresno State faculty appeared in the crowd.

“It’s really brave what they’re doing. Very courageous … there’s a long tradition, a long history of this. Especially at the CSUs,” English professor Samina Najmi said. “Our students are often our conscience, the conscience of the nation.”

Andy Levine, a sociology professor and also a Fresno Unified trustee, said he was just passing by — even though he stayed for a while.

“I’m just here to show my solidarity for the students that are here to peacefully be heard and to voice their concern and outrage for what’s happening in Gaza,” Levine said.

An overhead drone view of the peaceful pro-Palestinian sit-in at Fresno State, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

Lars Maischak, a social sciences lecturer whose anti-Donald Trump tweets created conflict and unsuccessful calls for his firing in 2017, was at the event.

He said he was concerned about the way student protesters have been demonized.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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