MTHS students stage protest in solidarity with Palestine

MTHS senior Annabelle Westby gives a speech to participating protesters regarding her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict before they begin the protest march. (Photo by J. Gurney, the Hawkeye)

Around 50 Mountlake Terrace High School students walked out in a vocal protest in solidarity with Palestine the morning of Nov. 21. Students chanted “Free free! Palestine!” as well as “From the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, Palestine will be free” displaying homemade signs as they marched along 44th Ave.

“I’m here protesting today because I am a human, and this is right,” junior Christina Sellers-McNees said. “If you look at it [Hamas] had 200 [Israelis] kidnapped, but there’s over 1,500 dead Palestinians. So I am protesting for what’s right, ethically. I feel really proud that our school is able to protest. I mean I guess there could be repercussions but there won’t be and we’ll make sure there won’t be. It shouldn’t be this hard [to realize] the amount of death that has happened already, and they’re [deaths] still climbing today. It shouldn’t be a question of whether or not to support Palestine.”

A student gives a speech about Palestine to all the protesters in front of the school before the walk starts.
Students begin to leave Mountlake Terrace high school, holding different posters in support of a ceasefire and freeing Gaza. (Photo by Seras Bryner, the Hawkeye)

During the protest students walked south from Terrace down 44th Avenue at around 9:40 a.m., towards QFC and Cedar Plaza. Students protested in Cedar Plaza for about 45 minutes before returning to school shortly before 11 a.m.

“I’m not against Israel or anything but I’m here for Palestine to support them,“ sophomore Zion Azim stated. “I think it’s amazing getting people of all races and genders here, getting people to protest for one thing and one thing only. [We’re] protesting against oppression, not only [for] Muslims, but other kinds of Palestinians as well.”  

Azim expressed his dismay with the Biden Administration’s course of action, “The way the United States has responded is embarrassing, absolutely humiliating. People of all races and genders and religions come here to America for a better life and then this is how they treat the Palestinians who live here. This is embarrassing. This is a betrayal for Palestinian-Americans.” 

Students cross the street, heading toawrds the Mountlake Terrace QFC while chanting phrases like, “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea Palenstine will be free.” (Photo by Seras Bryner the Hawkeye)

The walkout was organized by an anonymous Instagram user by the username of “mths.protests” roughly two weeks before the protest was set to take place. The user claimed that the walkout was not to diminish the school or fellow students’ beliefs, but to call attention to local lawmakers and show that even as teenagers they see the conflict and believe that the actions Israel is taking are wrong.  

“The protest went peacefully, we did a lot of screaming but otherwise I’m very happy to be protesting for peace and the freedom of Palestine,” sophomore Finn Drake-Sergant stated. “It’s not really a conflict. I feel like Israel is bullying Palestine. It’s not fair, the sides are not equal and Israel seems to stop at nothing to exterminate the people in Gaza. The complete apathy that the United States has shown to people who are dying is really just a testament to how the United States has reacted throughout history. This ‘conflict’ is a product of colonialism, it’s a product of American capitalism, and it’s really just history repeating itself.”

Terrace senior Sarah Al-Maiahi holds up a sign stating “Free Palestine, Tigray, Sudan, Congo and Haiti” while she and the rest of the student protesters stand in front of Starbucks in Cedar Plaza. (Photo by Seras Bryner, the Hawkeye)

Right before the students began walking to the main sidewalk, they heard a few speeches from three fellow participants. In these speeches and while they walked, students expressed their disagreement with the Israeli government’s decisions.

“The amount of power that Israel has at this point it’s not a conflict. It’s a one-sided argument when you are bombing children, when you are bombing places that are filled with civilians. Claiming that you have evidence and then not showing the press or public and using that as determination to wipe these people out of their land,” senior Samira Udeogu said. “I think that’s disgusting. I think it’s evil, knowing that Gaza does have resources that imperialists and all these colonialists want in this day and age. They [Israel] know that they [Palestine] don’t have that much power to protect it [Gaza], they’re gonna want it. I think we need more, we need more than someone just saying they are neutral. Being neutral is not enough, neutrality is oppression.”

— By Halle Connell
Mountlake Terrace Hawkeye News Editor 

Notes from Hawkeye editor: Sophomore Kaelynn Bagley contributed to this story and conducted many of the interviews. Students were marked unexcused while participating in the protest, which was supervised but not endorsed by school officials. This was the first significant protest at MTHS since students returned to school following the COVID pandemic. Terrace has a long history and tradition of supporting students’ First Amendment rights.

  1. It’s interesting to me that the students were marked as “unexcused” while they were “supervised”. The protest sounds like a valuable civics lesson and a great teaching opportunity.

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