Socialists in Office Denounce Violent Suppression of Student Protesters at Universities

Apr 30, 2024 | Electoral, Endorsements

Democratic socialist State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven (27th Middlesex); Cambridge City Council Member Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler; Somerville City Council Members Willie Burnley, Jr. and JT Scott; and Medford City Council President Zac Bears, who represent almost a quarter of a million residents released the following statement:

We stand in solidarity with the students practicing peaceful protest at Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Emerson, and Northeastern Universities, as well as all others across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the country. We unequivocally condemn the violent repression that the police, university administrators, and elected municipal leaders have exercised toward these students. 

Massachusetts, and the Boston area in particular, has long been a cradle of protest and dissent, dating back centuries. These students embrace and honor this history of dissent through their peaceful protests against the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the higher education structures that enable it. Their brave and powerful protest represents a united call to not just end to the ongoing genocide in Gaza but for their universities to divest from institutions that profit from this genocide, Israeli apartheid, and occupation. We are firmly opposed to antisemitism, which has no place in this movement to end the genocide and is part of the same machinery of fear and division that these students are organizing against. We are moved by this multiracial, multigenerational, interfaith movement and these encampments demonstrate the power of solidarity against division and hate. The sowing of division and condemnation of peaceful protest has been a longstanding tactic to undermine social justice movements standing on the correct side of history.

As we approach the 54th anniversary of the Kent State University massacre on May 4, it is disturbing  to see university administrations and police replicating the violent suppression that led to that tragedy. We must not repeat this history. Massachusetts is home to over 100 institutions of higher learning with nearly half a million students. We call upon these universities to protect these students’ right to assembly, free speech, and to provide amnesty for students by revoking any retaliatory academic discipline. Universities should be bastions of free speech, but instead we clearly see that our constitutional rights are secondary to universities’ collusion with police as a means of maintaining systems of oppression. 

It is important in this moment to remember the reason these students have made the brave decision to protest, which is the ongoing genocide in Gaza. University administrators, government officials, and corporate media outlets seek to reframe the conversation in this moment around students’ right to protest. We must avoid this trap and remain focused on demanding those in power finally adopt what the majority of Americans support – an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Palestine and end to the Israeli occupation.