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Palestinian Supporters Rally at Hunter and March Through Upper East Side

By Rhiannon Rashidi

“Hunter, Hunter, we’re outside,” voices boomed at the entrance to Hunter College at 5 p.m.  “We are louder than your lies,” supporters of Palestinians in Gaza called out. The rally was organized with a call on Instagram @cunygse, the account for the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment that had been set up on The City College of New York Campus.

From the bridges of the campus, over 50 students and faculty watched the rally get bigger and bigger. The number of protesters grew quickly. Many people walked out of the 6 train entrance on the corner of Lexington Ave and East 68th Street, holding signs and chanting. The rally became so large that the NYPD had to close the subway entrance to make room for the protesters. 

Organizers moved through the center of the crowd, leading call and response chants condemning CUNY and the United State's support of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip. “Over 40,000 dead. CUNY, your hands are red,” one chant went. “Israel bombs, U.S.A. pays. How many kids did you kill today,” was another. 

Some in this crowd had been forced out of the encampment on the City College campus, on April 30. CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez and CCNY President Vincent Boudreau called in the NYPD and had the encampment cleared after a group broke into the Wille Administration Building. The chants at Hunter let the chancellor and president know they weren’t giving up.

“You destroyed the tents, but we will not be moved,” one of the protest organizers yelled with the crowd of protesters. “We will grow. Louder, louder, louder!” Hunter College, anticipating the crowd, moved classes online after 3 p.m., and planned to resume in person May 7. 

The crowd swelled from hundreds to what appeared to be 1000 or more. The air was thick and the body-to-body contact created a stifling feeling. Yet, protesters pushed on and began to march west toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art to disrupt the parade of celebrities entering the Met Gala. On the way north, the march stopped traffic on Madison Avenue, and the NYPD began to set up barricades to reroute them. The group never got to the Met, but marched around the Upper East Side for three hours. 

The NYPD, using loudspeakers, warned protesters that if they blocked traffic and continued to march in the street, they risked arrest.  

A voice called out, “This is the New York City Police Department. You are unlawfully walking in the roadway. I am ordering you to go back on the sidewalk now. If you do so voluntarily, no charges will be placed against you.”

On Madison Ave, between 83rd and 84th, the confrontation between protesters and the NYPD escalated. Police actively blocked them from moving to the Met. As protesters surged forward, police warned people again to get out of the road. We saw two people on the ground, with cops placing zip ties on their wrists. Another woman was pulled from the sidewalk by an officer and arrested. Police said they’d be charged with disorderly conduct. 

The protesters continued to march around the Upper East Side, avoiding police barricades and often being redirected by the NYPD. The crowd broke up around 9 p.m..  


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