Pro-Palestine protesters block off Skinker Boulevard

and | Managing News Editor and Investigative News Editor

About 150 people block the intersection of Skinker and Forest Park as part of a pro-Palestine protest. (Alan Zhou | Student Life)

A group of about 150 pro-Palestine protesters blocked off the intersection at Skinker Boulevard and Forest Park Parkway as part of a larger demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, May 3.  

Protesters stood in the intersection to prevent incoming traffic from approximately 5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., leading to multiple interactions between drivers and protesters, including yelling and a fight. 

The protest was organized by multiple activist groups, including American Muslims for Palestine and the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. At the event, people held signs and chanted, with some directly calling out Washington University for its connection to Boeing, saying “WashU, WashU, you can’t hide, you’re committing genocide.” 

At 5:39 p.m., a black SUV drove into the intersection, narrowly missing protesters. The man driving the car exited and got into a verbal confrontation with the surrounding protesters, where he eventually punched one of them before driving off again.

Over the course of the next two hours, the protest moved up Skinker, with stops at every intersection to block traffic, including at Skinker and Lindell Boulevard, near the East End of campus.

Earlier that day, construction workers had begun putting up a fence lining campus from Crow Hall to Hillman Hall, with the fence blocking anyone from getting in or out from Skinker. In a recent email sent to the WashU community, Chancellor Andrew Martin wrote that the fence was being put up for Commencement. 

“Access to the east end of campus, including Tisch Park, Brookings Hall and all buildings in the vicinity, will be restricted only to members of the WashU community,” he wrote. “A fence is being installed around the perimeter in order to ensure pedestrian safety and keep the area clear while crews are setting up a stage and other structures associated with the post-Commencement celebration.” 

The fence, which made it impossible for anyone to enter from the East End, was a talking point as protesters gave speeches at the Lindell intersection. 

“Look at that fence,” one woman said. “Does this look like an institution that is open to their community?” 

She went on to say that, no matter what WashU does to prevent protests, they will continue to happen.

“We need a reminder of who this community belongs to,” she said.

Jessica, who preferred to keep her last name anonymous for safety reasons, attended the protest and said she has friends who are faculty members, though she is not directly affiliated with WashU. “I’m here to protect students who are being brutalized by fascist beliefs,” Jessica said. 

Jessica, who wore a hat that said “veteran,” served in the Air Force from 2011 to 2017. The hat had an upside-down American flag on it, as well as a symbol that she said indicated that she was present at the protest as a medic. 

“[The upside-down American flag] is a symbol used when the nation is in dire distress,” she said. 

Two seniors, who wished to stay anonymous for safety reasons, said that they wanted to attend the protest to support the cause because they were concerned about WashU’s relationship with Boeing. 

The first said that they saw the fence on the East End as a tactic clearly designed to deter and intimidate people, and the second agreed.

“The only violence I saw [on April 27] was at the hands of the police,” the second senior said. “I question the role of the fence because it doesn’t feel like it’s for safety.” 

The protest ended around 8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Skinker and Clayton Boulevard, near the I-64 freeway entrance. 

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