The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Palestine rally held following shooting

Emily Kobus
Community members gather outside City Hall calling for the protection of Palestinians Nov. 26

Approximately 150 people attended a rally for Palestine held Sunday, Nov. 26 outside City Hall on Church Street in Burlington.

UVM Students for Justice in Palestine referred to the event as an “emergency solidarity rally” in a Nov. 26 Instagram post. The rally took place the day after three Palestinian American men, 20-year-old students Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, were shot on North Prospect Street in Burlington. 

Federal ATF agents detained 48-year-old Jason J. Eaton around 3:38 p.m. on Nov. 26, and police searched Eaton’s residence at 9:53 p.m., according to a Nov. 27 Burlington Police Department press release.

In an arraignment on the morning of Nov. 27, Eaton pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted second degree murder, according to a Nov. 27 Vermont Public article.

At the rally, a speaker who said they represented UVM SJP said that the shooting was rooted in white supremacy, fascism and Zionism.

“We have spent what feels like an eternity being forced to watch the brutal slaughter of people whose only crime was to be Palestinian, whose only crime was to resist,” the speaker said. “And now, we watch three young men in our own community viciously attacked for the same reason.”

The speaker said the attack was a result of institutions refusing to protect Palestinians. They criticized pro-Israel student groups who they said posted racist content on social media but later said that they were horrified by the shooting.

“We say to them, ‘you enabled this’. The blood is also on your hands. We do not want your sympathy,” the speaker said. “Each of those three men could have been our members for all we know, we could have been the intended target. We do not want your solidarity against hate. You are the hate.”

Another speaker who claimed to represent UVM SJP said a Nov. 27 email from the University was irresponsible and denied that Arab and Palestinian students could be at risk. 

“No assurance of safety was provided for our Palestinian and Arab student body—a student body who has overwhelmingly expressed concerns, expressed outright examples of discrimination they’ve faced on this campus, expressed their fears for their safety,” the speaker said.

Further up Church Street, one person held an Israeli flag. 

An organizer-affiliated de-escalation team speaks to a person holding an Israeli flag at the rally Nov. 26. (Emily Kobus)

“On what God’s Earth would somebody come after three people were shot by a racist pig and bring us an Israeli flag?” said speaker Ashley Smith. “That is a font of racism and it has no business in our community.”

Smith said that there was a de-escalation team, which talks to people to prevent them from disrupting the rally, keeping them away from the event.

Wafic Faour, a speaker and member of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, said that he declined an offer from Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger of police protection at the rally.

“It is a strange day for me today because usually for the last 52 days, I’ve been calling my family everyday, sometimes 10, 20 times, to know how are they,” said Faour. “Today, I received so many calls from my family members to ask me, how am I? Is that possible? In Vermont? Yes, it is possible.” 

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About the Contributors
Andrew Gould
Andrew Gould, News Editor
(He/him) Andrew Gould is a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Springfield, VT. He started at the Cynic as a news reporter. In high school, Andrew worked for and later ran his school’s audio/visual production team. In his free time, Andrew enjoys running, skiing and photography. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Andrew.
Emily Kobus
Emily Kobus, Co-Photo Editor
(She/her)  Emily Kobus is a sophomore public communication major, concentrating in community media and journalism and minoring in political science. She began her work at the Cynic as a staff photographer before taking on the role of photo editor. In her free time, Emily enjoys writing, café hopping and exploring the outdoors. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Emily.