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April 25, 2024

Rep. Pressley’s Statement on Peaceful Student Protests

BOSTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on peaceful student protests.

“Peaceful protest is a central tenet of our democracy and students standing for justice have often been a catalyst for much-needed change. From the 1960s civil rights movement, the Vietnam War protests, the struggle for gender equality, and the movement for Black lives, to the global movement for peace in Israel and Palestine, many of the rights we tout today were earned thanks to the sweat equity of students demonstrating on college campuses across the nation.

“Every student, regardless of background or faith, has a right to feel safe and show up in the world without fear or discrimination — and we must ensure that those exercising their right to free speech are met with dignity and respect, not criminalization.

“That is why I am deeply concerned about misinformation that aims to undermine this movement, outside agitators that detract from peaceful solidarity actions, and the aggressive response by law enforcement to students peacefully protesting across the country. The National Guard or riot police should not be called in response to students’ peaceful freedom of expression. Let me be clear: we absolutely should not repeat the mistakes of generations past, and history has its eyes on us. 

“I call on university administrators to ensure that there are no academic repercussions for peaceful student protestors, and I urge law enforcement — at all levels of government — to exercise restraint. Safety for all students must be the priority.

“I am grateful to students nationwide and across the Massachusetts 7th — at Emerson, Northeastern, MIT, Tufts, Boston University, Harvard, and more — who are raising their voices and putting their bodies on the line to press for action to save lives in Gaza. That is what this movement is about. We cannot lose sight of the horrific injustices that Palestinians in Gaza are facing and I am proud to stand in solidarity with peaceful protestors. 

“My office is monitoring the situation at campuses in our district and I will continue pushing federally for a lasting bilateral ceasefire in Gaza to save lives, return the hostages, and deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to the region. From Massachusetts to the Middle East, our destinies are tied.”

Since the horrific October 7th attack, Congresswoman Pressley has consistently and stridently called for a ceasefire to save lives, return all hostages, and surge humanitarian aid to Gaza. Last week, Rep. Pressley delivered a floor speech in which she called for urgent de-escalation in the Middle East and renewed her calls for a ceasefire in Gaza to prevent a broader regional war.

Throughout the Israel and Hamas conflict, Rep. Pressley has been a vocal and consistent advocate of diplomacy, de-escalation, and saving lives.

  • Rep. Pressley joined Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and their colleagues on a resolution condemning Hamas’ brutal attack and hostage-taking, and demanding Hamas immediately release all hostages.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and 50 colleagues on a letter condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel, calling for Israeli military operations to follow the rules of international humanitarian law, and continuing to work toward peace in the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues in announcing a resolution urging the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible. She later joined her colleagues and a multi-faith, multiracial coalition of faith leaders and organizers for a prayer and press conference to renew their calls for a ceasefire. Rep. Pressley also joined dozens of rabbis and Members of Congress for a press conference to renew calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley delivered a floor speech in which she condemned antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate on college campuses.
  • Rep. Pressley joined a coalition of nearly 100 interfaith clergy and faith leaders on a joint statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and nearly 150 colleagues in urging the State Department to use all tools at its disposal help get Americans out of Israel and back home to the United States. She applauded the State Department for heeding her calls on October 12, 2023 and continues to press for the urgent evacuation of Americans in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley issued a statement following the safe evacuation of Massachusetts constituents Wafaa and Abood Okal and their one-year-old Yousef from Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley and Rep. Jamie Raskin led a group of 60 House lawmakers in urging the State Department to affirm the United States’ strong opposition to the forced and permanent displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, and to support an increase in humanitarian aid to the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Betty McCollum (MN-4) and 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden, asking him to support a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza to protect the one million children living there.
  • Rep. Pressley joined a coalition of interfaith clergy and faith leaders for a vigil to mourn the tens of thousands of Palestinians, Israelis, and innocent civilians killed since October 7th, and to renew calls for a ceasefire to save lives, return all hostages, and deliver humanitarian aid to the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues at a press conference to condemn the Israeli government’s pending invasion of Rafah and continued her calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues in calling for full funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to provide urgent humanitarian relief to Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Representatives Joaquín Castro, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky and 33 House Democrats to President Biden urging him to prevent an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah.
  • Rep. Pressley, amid heightened tensions in the region, delivered a floor speech in which she called for urgent de-escalation in the Middle East and renewed her calls for a ceasefire in Gaza to prevent a broader regional war.
  • Rep. Pressley filed a pair of amendments to increase funding to global humanitarian assistance and place a one-year moratorium on the transfer of offensive weapons to the Israeli military. The amendments were not adopted in the final legislation. 
  • Rep. Pressley voted against HR 8034 to send more offensive weapons and funding to the Israeli military, citing the Israeli military’s callous disregard for human life in Gaza and significant human rights violations.