Students continue to protest against the withdrawal of the entire CU system from Israel

Protesters hold a banner during a march on Regent Callie Rennison’s house organized by the Denver chapter of the Student Democratic Society, Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Andrew Wevers/CU Independent)

As the latest war between Israel and Hamas enters its eighth month, pro-Palestinian student groups across the University of Colorado continue to engage in demonstrations to protest the CU system’s ties to corporations operating in Israel.

On Memorial Day, organizers from the UC Boulder chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, the Denver-Boulder chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace and the Colorado Palestine Coalition held a demonstration at Bolder Boulder, an annual 10K run that ended at Folsom Field. at the University of California, Boulder.

Organizers hung banners along the race route and distributed leaflets to participants, hoping to spread awareness of the Palestinian cause and advocate for cutting ties between the CU system and Israel.

“Our goal for the (Bolder Boulder) demonstration was, first and foremost, to make sure that on this Memorial Day we commemorate the lives lost in Palestine at the hands of the Israeli military and, by extension, the American military,” said Annabelle Brown, an organizer with Boulder’s CU SJP.

Lowered banners with slogans such as “Gaza is running out of time” and “Be braver, say no to genocide” were met with “mixed reactions,” according to Brown.

“There were a few people who looked at our banners and cheered and agreed,” Brown said. “I think it was quite a shock because I didn’t really know how to feel.”

Other banners pressured the university system to “withdraw” from Israel. Brown said it is a general term that refers to both direct investment and other ties to Israel and the war.

Jeff Howard, a spokesman for the CU System, could not definitively confirm or deny whether the CU System has any direct investments in Israel.

With several different funds managed by third-party brokers, CU’s portfolios are constantly changing, so there may be investments tied to single companies that may be based around the world at any given time,” Howard said in a statement.

Brown also stated that CU Boulder’s SJP hopes to do more than withdraw from the university’s portfolio.

“When we talk about divestment of (CU) Boulder SJP, we are not just talking about divestment, but also about denying subsidies to weapons manufacturers because the military-industrial complex does not belong on our campus,” Brown said.

Demonstrators hope to pressure the CU system to sever ties that link the university to Israel through corporations such as LockheedMartin AND RTXtwo aerospace defense corporations that produce technology used by Israel.

CU Boulder currently has 15 active awards to Lockheed Martin and two to Raytheon, according to Nicole Mueksch, a university spokeswoman. These awards relate to the partnerships they support academicfiscal i professional development.

On June 1, the Denver chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society hosted another demonstration. The chapter includes students from Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and CU Denver.

Protesters march holding placards with an image of Regent Callie Rennison, Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Andrew Wevers/CU Independent)

Students marched in front of CU Regent Callie Rennison’s home in Superior. The march echoed many of the demands proposed during the Bolder Boulder demonstration, such as system-wide divestment.

“SDS is currently conducting a disinvestment campaign against Israel and the genocide, with the most critical being disinvestment from corporations operating in Israel,” said Khalid Hamu, SDS media liaison.

According to Hamu, demonstrators chose to march in front of Rennison’s home because she is the chairwoman of the board of regents and was elected to that position in 2023.

At the original starting point of the march, pro-Palestinian protesters were met with rejection from pro-Israel demonstrators. As a result, pro-Palestinian protesters gathered elsewhere to begin marching to Rennison’s home.

Student Democratic Society Denver chapter protesters (left) and counter-protesters facing each other during a march on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Andrew Wevers/CU Independent)

According to Hamu, counter-protesters tried to push back pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Hamu said counter-demonstrators also tried to disrupt the march with loud music and other tactics, such as pro-Palestinian protesters running with banners.

“(It was) just a general attempt to mess with our protesters and physically destroy them,” he said.

As for the future, Hamu said SDS will continue to protest despite the challenges it faces.

“We (SDS) are a very serious political organization of students who fight for change and we fight for justice,” Hamu said. “We will try to organize everything we can to see this change and understand that regardless of what the administrator has imposed on us or any response we receive, we understand that it is nothing compared to what we are currently facing the Palestinian people and what they have been facing for over 75 years.”

Protesters wave a Palestinian flag and posters with an image of Regent Callie Rennison during a march on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Andrew Wevers/CU Independent)

According to a May 16 statement from the Board of Regents: “No CU regent is offering any policy changes in response to the demands.

“(The regents) don’t understand that this is a universal desire of students and faculty at their schools,” said Paul Nelson, a June 1 protest participant and MSU Denver student. “Their job is to listen to students, and if they don’t want to do that, we’re willing to stop them to ask.”

Contact CU Freelance Editor Jessi Sachs at [email protected]

Contact CU freelance news editor Vanessa Arambula at [email protected]