Youth a huge component of D.C. march for a ceasefire in Gaza
Young people from Illinois interviewed in this story. | Aboulfotouh Kandil

WASHINGTON—Young people were clearly the biggest contingent of the many thousands who descended upon the nation’s capital last Saturday demanding an immediate ceasefire and an end to the genocide Israel is carrying out against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The protest had participants from over 500 groups across the country, according to organizers. The Guardian, The Hill, and ABC News were among media platforms that estimated the number of protestors in the tens of thousands, but organizers said that 300,000 people participated. In any case, it was the biggest pro-Palestinian protest ever held in the in the United States.

Participants traveled to Washington from many states, including New York, New Jersey, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, Maine, Boston, Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, and others. Many of them were transported on hundreds of buses provided by local and national organizations. Others used their own vehicles or flew in for the event.

Although the protest was announced to start at 2:00 p.m, many protesters had arrived earlier. They gathered in Freedom Plaza, rallied for almost four hours, and then marched through streets until they finally reached the White House at dusk.

The huge numbers of young people participating were anxious to send their messages to the Biden administration, to lawmakers, and to the people of Gaza and all of Palestine.

Their messages were about the necessity of an immediate ceasefire, ending the blockade on Gaza, sending a greater flow of humanitarian aid, stopping U.S. military aid to Israel, and showing solidarity with Palestinians and people in Gaza.

People’s World spoke to young demonstrators about their motivations, demands, and messages.

Al-Shayma, Salsabeel, Hadeel, and Shada Awwad, daughters of Sameria Ramadan, originally from Palestine and now living in Illinois, were among those we spoke to.

Al-Shayma, said, “I am here today to end the genocide that’s going in Gaza and to call for a ceasefire. My message for the people in Gaza is we all speak for you, we love you, and may God bless you.”

Salsabeel, 19, said, “I’m here to stop the genocide that’s happening in Palestine and Gaza, and to free Palestine from struggling that has been going for 75 years.”

Joining her, Hadeel, also 19, said, “I am here to show my solidarity with Palestinians. My message for Biden is to ceasefire on Gaza now, and for people in Palestine that they are not alone, we speak for them and advocate for their rights.”

Twelve-year-old Shada said she came to Washington to  “to ask Biden to come up with a ceasefire in Gaza.” She held a sign with a quote from Omar Al-Mukhtar, leader of the Libyan resistance against the Italian occupation in the early 20th century, reading, “We don’t surrender. We win or die.”

One of the youth noted how the injustice underway in Gaza is nothing new and how it has been going on for the greater part of a century. The refusal of Israel and the United States to get serious about implementing the two-state solution for so long is, of course, an underlying injustice that must be corrected if there is ever to be peace in the Middle East.

A 24-year-old woman from Boston told People’s World, “I am here today to tell Biden that the American people will not stand for all of these atrocities being weighed on Palestinians with our money, with the mainstream media backing it.”  She added, “To the people in Palestine I say keep on resisting, keep on fighting for your rights.”

Tori from South Carolina, age 23, said, “I am here for human reasons, and to save lives. All lives are important and must be protected.”

Another woman, Hanna, 26, from Virginia, said, “What is going on in Palestine and Gaza is not a conflict…it is a genocide that must be stopped.”

Laura, 23, an African American from Washington, D.C., said “I am here today to condemn the genocide against Palestinian people and to urge Biden to take an action for immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”

A 26-year-old Mexican woman who lives in Virginia said, “All this money should not be spent on war, but on human and social services that increase the quality of people’s life, including health care, education, housing, and employment.”

Many young protesters carried small bloodied dolls and coffins to highlight the killing of thousands of children in Gaza. They also banged drums, blew trumpets, and flew Palestine’s flag.

Signs called for an end to the bombing of houses, schools, and hospitals in Gaza, which have killed 10,000 in four weeks.

In addition, many accused President Biden of supporting the Israeli genocide of Palestinians. A number of people said they wouldn’t be able to vote for him in the upcoming election if he doesn’t work to stop the attacks on Gaza.

The young people who marched in Washington Saturday vowed to continue advocating for Palestinians until the oppression against them ends. It’s now up to the Biden administration, U.S. lawmakers, and Israel to listen.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


Aboulfotouh Kandil
Aboulfotouh Kandil

Aboulfotouh Kandil is a freelance writer on socio-political issues and human rights with a main focus on the Middle East.