Palestinian Students Attacked, Students Fight Back
Posted by raleighfist on February 12, 2007
By Dante Strobino, Raleigh FIST
On Tuesday, January 20th a gang of 15 members of the Guilford College football team in Greensboro, NC used their fists, feet and brass knuckles to attack 3 Palestinian students while simultaneously yelling anti-arab epithets. Only three of the white students, Michael Bates, Michael Robert Six and Christopher Barnette, involved were arrested on the spot for assault and ethnic intimidation while Guilford College is refusing to classify the attack as a “hate crime”, severely decreasing the severity of the charges.
The college released a statement saying that it would refrain from taking action against the accused students until they had been prosecuted in the local courts. Three more football players involved were later charged. Witnesses claim that the racists involved in the attack yelled “terrorists” after the violent onslaught began, thus signifying that the attack was not motivated by hatred based on race, nationality or ethnic origin, of which it clearly was.
This attack cannot be understood outside the context of US Imperialism which is a global war to eliminate all unity amongst people of color and extract the highest profits from their labor and their land via these divisions. US imperialist attacks on Iraq, Somolia, Colombia and the on-going land-left from and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people are only a few symptoms of global capitalism, which also has effects within the boarders of the US. Here, within the US under the “war on terrorism”, and also across the world, the ruling class has successfully created a white-supremacist culture that violently attacks and oppresses all Arabs and people of color everywhere they go, including school.
Recalling the incident, a Palestinian student at NC State University told YES! Weekly that as he was trying to pull 7-8 assailants off his two Guildford student friends, “That’s when I got my share of the assault,” he said. “That’s when they put me on the dirt and beat my a–. All this was accompanied by ’sand n—-rs,’ ‘f—ing Palestinians,’ ‘terrorists.’ I would like to say seven to eight people were attacking me.”
This anti-arab and white-supremacist furor continues to deepen as do the contradictions of US imperialism. CBS conducted a survey last April that found that 45 percent of Americans harbor anti-Islam sentiments– more than 9 percentage points higher than in the tense months following the 9/11 attacks. Also, Washington Post found in their poll that the percentage of US citizens who believe Islam is a violent religion has more than doubled – from 14 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent in March 2006.
Less than a week after the attack, over 300 hundred students walked out of class at Guilford College carrying scarecrows, placards and banners condemning the hate crime and to offer solidarity to the attacked Palestinian students.
At UNC- Chapel Hill, a new group formed in reaction to the beating of the three Palestinian students called SPEAC (Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action at Carolina). The group includes Muslim students, members of SDS, members of Raleigh FIST and others. SPEAC held a demonstration on Friday, 2 January there were more than 50 students who spoke total number of hate crimes that happen annually and the lack of university response. Speakers brought up that the attacks on Muslims are directly related to US imperialism and Israeli state terrorism. The group is circulating a petition that has already gotten hundreds of signatures demanding that Guilford call the attack what it is, a hate crime.
At NC State University, on February 8th, the Muslim Student Association organized a meeting with campus police, city police and university administrators to sequester more information about their rights and protections. Over 75 students attended the session where the cops, through their creepy charisma, attempted to build trust amongst the Muslim students. After Raleigh FIST members raised questions about US Imperialism, the on-going rash of police brutality and murders at the hands of cops (including murder of 18 year old Peyton Strickland UNC-Wilmington student last Dec. 1) there was an overwhelming mood of solidarity amongst the students against the cops. Muslim students began to inquire about the local cops history and asked about the repeated tasering of an Arab student at UCLA in November. Students left with a greater sense of who the cops are really protecting. Students are working to build a support committee to support the NC State student involved in the racist beating.
Raleigh FIST and other progressive students continue to build relationships with other community and labor forces in North Carolina to foster a genuine anti-imperialist movement that can stop this violence and oppression at its roots.