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Sudarshan Kapoor
Fresno State, Gaza Protest

Fresno State's Gaza Protest: A Peaceful Blueprint for
Nationwide Advocacy

Los Angeles/May 10, 2024 Kapoor/Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

Students and other supporters gathered in the Free Speech area at Fresno State, holding Palestinian flags and signs during a peaceful pro-Palestinian sit-in organized by Students for Palestinian Liberation on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

In the wake of mass arrests of protesting students at Columbia University, pro-Palestine demonstrations have erupted at numerous universities across the United States and beyond. Unfortunately, many of these protests have been marred by violence, vandalism, and intimidation, exacerbated by the interference of external parties, leading to escalating tensions.

Without careful management, these situations could spiral into a crisis reminiscent of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Over 2,000 protesters have been arrested in the U.S. alone, with approximately 80 universities experiencing protests, rallies, and encampments, a number that continues to rise.

While the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech are fundamental aspects of a democratic society, violent dissent and disorder have no place in civil discourse. This danger becomes pronounced when protests are led by inexperienced and undisciplined individuals.

There is much to learn from the strategies employed by Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar E. Chavez, and Dolores Huerta, who effectively organized nonviolent protests, boycotts, and marches. These figures serve as role models for students, educators, administrators, and organizers alike.

Pro-Palestine students have a legitimate cause to advocate for, given the dire conditions faced by the people of Gaza. Their right to peaceful expression on university campuses should be respected, free from intimidation or discrimination.

Amidst this landscape, it is heartening to note that the majority of protests on university campuses have been peaceful and nonviolent. Fresno State's demonstration on May 1 stands as a shining example, devoid of violence, harassment, or hate speech. University authorities demonstrated civility and respect towards students and their rights, with President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval even engaging with protesters.

The peaceful nature of the protest can be attributed to pre-protest negotiations between student leaders and administrators, fostering an environment of mutual respect and trust. Compared to past demonstrations, this event was notably the most peaceful and nonviolent, showcasing commendable courage and cooperation from both students and university leadership.

Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, Professor Emeritus of Social Work Education and Peace Studies at California State University, Fresno, extends his admiration to the students and university officials for their commendable conduct during the protest.


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