Montpelier high school students gather outside the capitol building to protest the genocide in Gaza.

Students in Montpelier and Across Vermont Walk Out for Gaza

Almost one hundred students from Montpelier High School braved the rain and cold to walk out of their classes and march to the capitol building at 11:00 am today, waving Palestinian flags and holding signs protesting genocide and calling for a ceasefire. Students in Bennington, Bristol, White River Junction, Winooski, and other Vermont towns took similar actions.

According to a press release by the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont, students are united around three demands: an end to the occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, a permanent ceasefire, and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Palestinian territories.

Several students took to a megaphone as the crowd assembled in front of the capitol building. One student said, “We’re walking out today to protest the way the US has funded this genocide and the way Vermont has participated in that funding and to tell the school that we can handle these conversations. We learn from having these hard conversations. This should not be a political issue. It’s a human rights issue.”

“To my peers, I urge you to educate yourself. Ask questions. Stay aware. This is a genocide in our lifetime,” another student said. “Educators, we need to learn and stay educated about these major events happening right now. The Palestinian people deserve acknowledgment. Teach about genocide. Do not be silent.”

The assembled crowd marched down State Street to Main Street and then back to the capitol building, with several drivers honking their cars and waving in support.

More than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza have died since the Israeli military offensive began in October, in what the International Court of Justice has determined is a plausible genocide in progress. 

Today’s walkouts come on the heels of pro-ceasefire resolutions passing in thirteen Vermont towns on Town Meeting Day earlier this month. A steady and rising drumbeat of grassroots resistance to the U.S. government’s arming and funding of the Israeli military has shifted the political calculus for elected officials up to the highest level. Earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador to the UN abstained, rather than vetoed, a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. 

While National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the abstention “does not represent a shift in our policy,” the move outraged the Israeli government. Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned Israeli delegation visit to Washington, D.C. in retaliation for the move.

Montpelier High School students have a long history of walkouts including recently in 2022, when they did so to protest anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida and Texas, and in 2018 to commemorate the one month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting and demand stricter gun legislation.

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