The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

UPDATED: UI students flood streets in support of ActNow4Palestine protest

Anh-khoi Pham
Protesters gather in front of the Swanlund Administration Building to demand change from the University Administration.
The protest on Green Street was met with pro-Israel counterprotests, people arrived wrapped in Israeli flags and holding flags. (Anika Khandavalli)

**Many attendees, community members and organizers have elected not to be identified by name for safety reasons. Some interviewees have requested to be identified by first name only.**

This afternoon, in a protest coordinated by the group ActNow4PalestineUIUC, University students and community members marched to demand University divestment from weapons manufacturers for Israel and a statement on Palestine’s occupation from Chancellor Robert J. Jones and President Timothy L. Killeen.

Protestors carried signs reading “30,000 killed; 2 million starving; Stop $$$ War” and “UIUC is Silent!” as they began their protest with speakers at the foot of Alma Mater at 12:30 p.m. 

In a recent media advisory, ActNow4PalestineUIUC announced its three main hopes for the outcome of this demonstration: “A public acknowledgment of the loss of Palestinian life by the State of Israel’s genocidal occupation of Palestine; the creation of an autonomous and binding committee to address Palestinian, Muslim and Arab affairs on campus; and divestment from all corporations and academic collaborations that support the militarized occupation of the State of Israel.”

Protesters stand at the north side of the Transit Plaza holding banners that read “Genocide Joe has got to go, ceasefire now” and “How many deaths until UIUC divests?” (Matt Stepp)

At approximately 12:50 p.m., the protesters began to march down Green Street. The crowd stopped traffic to march while chanting “Free Palestine.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

At 1:50 p.m., the group made it to the Swanlund Administration Building on East John Street. There, various speakers voiced their concerns about the University’s lack of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and restated the mission of ActNow4PalestineUIUC.

“We also want to make this school and University more democratic,” one masked protester said to the crowd outside of Swanlund. “And for that, we’re asking for a committee to address the very real concerns of Palestinian, Muslim and Arab-Americans and incorporate the Palestinian perspective.”

A speaker demands change from the University in front of the Swanlund Administration Building on East John Street. (Anh-khoi Pham)

This anonymous speaker added that while the group has protested in the past, the University Administration has refused to acknowledge the war in Gaza. 

“We’ve been telling (President Killeen) and (Chancellor Jones) to listen to us,” the same masked protester added. “What more do we have to do? We’ve protested a dozen times, we sent hundreds of emails, had countless calls and they still don’t want to listen to us.”

According to the aforementioned media advisory, “With over 33,000 Palestinians killed with our University money tax dollars, WE HAVE TO ACT NOW FOR PALESTINE!”

Protesters occupy the Transit Plaza on South Wright Street, circling the street and chanting with megaphones and speakers. (Matt Stepp)
Protesters circle on Green Street, an organizer leads chants from the middle of the circle with a megaphone. (Anika Khandavalli)

UPDATE: April 25, 7:49 p.m.

At approximately 3 p.m. on Wednesday, students began circling Transit Plaza on South Wright Street — a hub for bus operations outside of the University Bookstore. The assembly dispersed, concluding the protest at about 4:30 p.m. 

Dema Karim, media spokesperson for ActNow4Palestine, said that protesters were successful in securing a meeting with the University. After entering the Henry Administration Building, representatives spoke with the administration and scheduled a meeting for next Monday.

“Negotiators were able to secure a meeting with University administrators with our stipulations: that our demands be addressed directly, that the public be allowed transparency into meeting proceedings, and that we be allowed to hold a demonstration outside of the meeting without police intervention,” Karim said in an email statement. “This meeting is scheduled for this coming Monday at 5pm.”

According to Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Strategic Communications and Marketing for the University, demonstrators and counterdemonstrators had a chance to express their viewpoints, and she stressed the importance of respect within the University community to those making their opinions known. 

We will speak directly with them about the issues they presented and how we can move forward together on our campus to deliver the educational experience they expected when they chose to come to Illinois,” Kaler said in a statement.

Karim said that while another demonstration is planned for outside of Monday’s meeting with University administrators, any further protest sponsored by ActNow4Palestine is dependent on the outcome of the discussion.

“We are prepared to continue mobilizing around our demands until they are met,” Karim added. “Whether additional actions will be necessary, however, is up to the University.”

Karim said that the protest was an important milestone in achieving ActNow4Palestine’s aforementioned goals for the demonstration.

“Today’s event was a major step forward in obtaining a response from the university regarding our demands, and the hundreds of community members who participated were able to voice their opposition to the university’s complicity in the genocide being waged against Palestinians,” Karim said.

Yesterday’s demonstration was one of many protests over the Israel-Hamas War across the country at universities including Harvard and Northwestern. More than 100 demonstrators were arrested at Columbia last week after pro-Palestinian protestors began an encampment on the main quad to protest the school’s affiliation with companies advancing Israeli military efforts.

Certain U.S. legislators have spoken in opposition to pro-Palestininan organizations organizing on-campus protests on the grounds of anti-Semitism against Jewish students. U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson visited Columbia yesterday to speak on the protection of Jewish students whilst calling for the resignation of university president Shafik with New York Representative Elise Stefanik.


[email protected]

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Mary Piacente
Mary Piacente, News Editor
Matt Stepp
Matt Stepp, Visual Director
Hey there! I’m Matt, I’m currently a first-year majoring in Graphic Design, with a minor in media. I started here at the Daily Illini in the fall of 2023 as a staff photographer, and now serve as the Visual Director for the Daily Illini. I have always loved photography, you will probably see me around campus shooting sports and other events. I’m also an artist and love watercolor painting and illustration. If you’re a swimmer or enjoy the pool, you may see me at the ARC or CRCE working as a lifeguard as well, I’m never away from a pool for too long!
ILLordle: Play now