The group Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers University is claiming school officials engaged in “racism” and “repression” by erasing several “pro-Palestinian chalk messages” late last month.
The SJP also alleges the university violated school policy by clearing away the chalkings — which were added during a walkout and “art build” — before the five-day limit, The Daily Targum reports.
“This is a clear incident of anti-Palestinian racism and repression of Palestinian political activism, done AT THE HANDS OF THE UNIVERSITY,” the SJP posted on Instagram. “How can we feel safe if our work is watched at all moments by police, by admin, who waste no time to literally wash away a peaceful demonstration?”
Arooj Amjad, who had helped with the art build, said Rutgers is siding with Israel.
“[The chalking erasure] is discrimination and Islamophobia in plain sight, and yet Rutgers isn’t concerned at all. Our free speech has been limited within Rutgers and outside it,” Amjad (pictured) said.
“I think it is important for us to take up space and let other students know what is going on and what the truth is,” Amjad said. “By protesting, posting or attending the art build, I feel as if I am able to spread more awareness about the matter and raise my voice against the genocide of Palestinians.”
She said she made two works: a poster with the phrase “We Can’t Breathe since 1948,” alluding to the chant that defined the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, and a piece of sidewalk chalk art with the phrase “Palestinian Children Deserve To Live.”
Amjad said the utilization of the first phrase intended to highlight how individuals responded to the killing of George Floyd and other atrocities against the Black community versus how slow they were to respond to the atrocities committed against the Palestinian community for decades.
“We appreciate the people who are raising their voice now, but it (is) upsetting that it took people so long to educate themselves on the matter, and the genocide only made the news because Israel got attacked this time,” she said.
In a statement, Rutgers said that since the art build had been hastily approved, university officials failed to take into account another school policy — that any chalkings must be more than “2 feet [away] of any area with foliage.”
The university conceded it did not notify the SJP about the erasures but said it’s “working on ways to prevent similar occurrences in the future.”
IMAGES: Rutgers SJP/Instagram; Arooj Amjad/Linkedin