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Feb
25
2024
Activism

Moriah Johnston speaks to the gathered crowd before the march, with fellow speakers Jessica Vaught and Dio Smith looking on at right. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

EXTENDED COVERAGE | Villagers stage pro-Palestine march

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By Ely Lombardi

What started as a conversation between coworkers at a local flower shop, blossomed into two consecutive days of collective action this past weekend, with the aim of convincing Village Council to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to Israeli military action in Gaza.

To date, more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed as the Israeli military continues to bombard the Gaza Strip with violence. 

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Yellow Springs Uproar, a newly formed social action group based in the village, worked with students to organize a walkout at Yellow Springs High School on Friday, Jan. 26; planned a poster-making event held at the Olive Kettering Library the same day; and led a march on Saturday, Jan. 27, which brought a crowd of over 100 through the streets of Yellow Springs on a route ending outside of the John Bryan Community Center. The events were held with hopes of urging Village leadership to vote in favor of the proposed resolution, which is based on a similar proposition recently adopted by the city council of Dayton.     

To make this demonstration possible, YS Uproar brought together a coalition of students, village residents and organizations holding diverse political affiliations and opposing ideologies — all of whom, organizers told the News, set aside their differences to present a united front in support of the ceasefire and in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Newly formed group YS UPROAR staged a pro-Palestinian march throughout Yellow Springs on Saturday, Jan. 27. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)


Moriah Johnston, a founding member of and spokesperson for YS Uproar, stated that a primary driving force behind the planning of these demonstrations was a sense of frustration with the virtual silence from the Yellow Springs community on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This message seemingly resonated with many beyond the core group of employees at Glen Garden Gifts — including Johnston — who initially started advocating for action.

“Four weeks ago, I was probably busy at work, juggling life in between viewing some of the most heart-wrenching footage from Gaza,” Johnston told marchers as they gathered outside the Wellness Center at Antioch College on a cold, gray Saturday afternoon. “All I could think to myself was that this world was a lost cause.”

Johnston continued: “But three weeks ago, I found myself inviting anyone who would come to a meeting at our public library in the hopes of organizing efforts in solidarity with Palestine. I had remembered a stat from a college course that revealed it only takes 10% of a population to challenge the status quo. That’s 10% of your coworkers. That’s 10% of a student body. It’s 10% of a small Ohio town. It was the spark I needed. And just like that, we ignited a fire.”

Dio Smith, a student activist from Antioch College; Jessica Vaught, a nurse and local resident; and Kim McCarthy, chair of the Democratic Party of Greene County, also spoke before the gathered crowd of marchers on Saturday; see excerpts from their addresses to the crowd, as well as more photos from the weekend’s events, on page 7.

The idea of a school walkout was brought to YS Uproar early on in the planning process by a Yellow Springs High School student, inspired by the effectiveness of student organizing in the efforts to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Though the poster-making event and part of the march were held on the campus of Antioch College, the demonstration was not sponsored by the school; however, Antioch College President Jane Fernandes was present for the march.    

The protest was unpermitted, meaning the organizers did not commission a police escort or get the route pre-approved by Village law enforcement. To ensure effective traffic control and the safety of those participating in the march, organizers partnered with the Party for Socialist Liberation, or PSL, to provide volunteer civilian marshaling services.

The march was considered a success by its organizers, with Johnston stating: “This demonstration was an attempt to break silence, and we certainly did that!”

 

YS Uproar aims to continue organizing in and around the village, with plans to screen the film “Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!” in coming weeks. The group also plans to host a series of lectures, with the first event planned for Saturday, Feb. 3, 4:30–6 p.m., at the Senior Center.

For more information, email YSUproar@gmail.com, or find the group on Facebook and Instagram.

*Ely Lombardi is a student at Antioch College and the editor of The Antioch Record.

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