The Party for Socialism and Liberation, in collaboration with three other USC organizations, held an "emergency demonstration" on Tuesday at the South Carolina Statehouse to call for the freeing of Palestinian political prisoners, the end of aid to Israel and advocacy for peace as attacks persist between Israel and Hamas.
More than 200 people lined the Statehouse grounds in support of Palestine, including members of Students for Justice in Palestine, Dawah on Campus and the Arab Student Association. The crowd of supporters included children, families, students and members of the Palestinian community of Columbia, as well as those who travelled from outside Columbia.
Attendees held signs reading "stand with Palestine, end the occupation now" and repeated chants including "Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry, Palestine will never die."
Six speakers, representing a variety of organizations, took time leading the rally and voiced an array of opinions, such as a call from the PSL demanding freedom for Palestine and a speech from the Jewish Voices for Peace advocating a great will for the violence to end.
“I’d like to see change," said Party for Socialism and Liberation organizer and event speaker Luna Brazell. "I would like for the people to realize what's going on in this world."
David Matos, president of the Carolina Peace Resource Center, said he attended the event mainly to speak out more in hopes of educating and spreading the word regarding the existing state of violence in Gaza.
“Our message was, 'There needs to be a ceasefire," Matos said. "There needs to be humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza.'”
Malak Farhan, who came from outside of Columbia with family to attend, said she appreciated the opportunity this demonstration gave her to show support for Palestine.
“You don’t see people getting together in support of Palestine every day,” Farhan said.
Farhan said the United States is partially to blame for funding Israel.
"All that money is costing lives of innocent children," Farhan said. "All this money that Biden is giving Israel is literally just being used to cause destruction."
A counter demonstration opposite the Statehouse on Gervais Street grew during the event to about 30 people waving Israeli and American flags with "I heart Israel" signs.
Golan Avshalom, originally from Israel and part of the counter demonstration, had served in the Israeli army.
“We really, really, really want to help them,” Avshalom said. “The problem is the terrorism and the hate. We will not stand for this hate. ... Put the hate aside. Let's go forward and live."
The speakers and protestors on both sides of the street advocated a desire for peace with a strong stance against all forms of terrorism in the ongoing conflict, and both demonstrations remained peaceful during the night.