Go to content, skip over navigation


More Pages

Go to content, skip over visible header bar
Home News Features Arts & Entertainment Sports OpinionAbout Contact Advertise

Note about Unsupported Devices:

You seem to be browsing on a screen size, browser, or device that this website cannot support. Some things might look and act a little weird.

Students for Justice in Palestine launches week of action in response to Senator King’s Maine visit

February 23, 2024

Bowdoin Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), in collaboration with Maine Students for Palestine, inaugurated a week of action designed to urge Senator Angus King to support a ceasefire in Gaza on Monday. Each day this week, an event directed specifically at putting pressure on King has occurred or is planned to occur.

On Monday and Wednesday, SJP led rallies outside of King’s Portland office, and Tuesday and Thursday saw rallies outside of his Brunswick residence. Today’s rally will return to King’s office, and the week will wrap up tomorrow with a candlelight vigil on the Maine Street Mall, which SJP hopes will draw the largest crowd of the week.

King is in Maine this week for a state work period, which SJP is seeking to take advantage of to make its calls heard.

“While a genocidal campaign aimed at settling and eliminating Palestinians from the Gaza Strip occurs, our policymakers should have no peace. Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign is being diplomatically, financially and militaristically facilitated by our policymakers and our taxpayer money,” Ahmad Abdulwadood ’24, a member of the SJP Steering Committee, said. “And so, it’s imperative that we do everything we can to pressure our lawmakers to oppose Israel’s war crimes. And we believe that we represent a vast collection of Maine college students and residents who, like us, demand that Angus King calls for a ceasefire.”

Rachel Klein ’24, another SJP leader, spoke to a recent shift in organizing tactics as the group has focused its efforts on King.

“In the fall, we were hosting infrequent, big events. So the turnout was huge—most of those events, we were always upwards of 100 people,” Klein said. “The philosophy behind [this week’s actions] is that he shouldn’t be able to rest and ignore that day to day, a genocide is going on, and we’re gonna call attention to that. We’ve been going for a smaller base of people and trying to increase frequency.”

Speaking at the rally in front of King’s Brunswick house on Thursday, Abdulwadood emphasized SJP’s focus on persistent organizing.

“We’re gonna show up, we’re gonna yell and we’re gonna sing and we’re gonna pester,” Abdulwadood said.

Alternating between Portland and Brunswick has not only been driven by a desire to reach King at both locations but is also a result of the joint organizing between SJP and Maine Students for Palestine.

“As Bowdoin SJP, I think we have a substantial organizing power in terms of bringing out Bowdoin students, so we wanted to take advantage of Brunswick as a location—and [King’s] house is here. We also wanted to [protest outside] his office in Portland because we wanted to bring out students from other colleges, and we don’t want to ask them to travel to Brunswick every day,” Klein said. “Our turnout has reflected that—in Portland it’s been half Bowdoin students, half non-Bowdoin students, and in Brunswick it’s been mostly Bowdoin students.”

But the rallies have not just drawn students. Local residents have also shown up to multiple events, such as Fateh Azzam of Georgetown and Lee O’Brien of Brunswick.

“I live in Brunswick now, since I’ve retired, and I’m glad to have an opportunity to come and express my fear and frustration and my anger with Senator King for not having the courage and morality to, at a minimum, support a ceasefire,” O’Brien, a retired United Nations employee formerly stationed in Gaza, said.

“I’m Palestinian myself. And it’s just unbelievable that Senator King [and] most of the congressional representation is silent with what’s going on in Gaza. Unbelievable,” Azzam, a human rights expert and former senior fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, added.

In an email response to an Orient inquiry for King’s response to SJP’s calls, King’s office referred back to his recent public statements. These included a February 14 letter to President Biden in which 25 senators, including King, wrote to express their support for a conditional ceasefire.

“We therefore write to express our urgent support for your Administration’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure the release of hostages in tandem with a restored mutual ceasefire in Gaza,” the letter reads.

SJP has yet to receive any response or acknowledgment during any of its rallies at King’s office or Brunswick house.

“Lights have been on [inside his house and office], but we have not gotten any formal response [from Senator King],” Klein said.

SJP member Olivia Kenney ’25 referenced what they have been seeing as King not following through on his word.

“The reason behind [the action week] is Angus King has said on a number of occasions that he supports trying to preserve civilian lives,” Kenney said. “He wants Israel to preserve civilian lives as much as they can. But he won’t call for a ceasefire. He refuses to call for a permanent ceasefire. And we’ve seen time and time again that a permanent ceasefire is the only thing that will make a meaningful difference in the genocide that is currently happening.”

Abdulwadood also reflected on the impetus for SJP’s action week and the necessity of continued involvement.

“Turnout has been generally strong, and I’m very heartened by people’s participation. But it’s the very least we can do, and we have a moral obligation to show up. No matter how many people come out, we, the members of SJP, will persist and continue to protest and agitate until our senators heed our demands,” Abdulwadood said.


Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy:

  • No hate speech, profanity, disrespectful or threatening comments.
  • No personal attacks on reporters.
  • Comments must be under 200 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use a real name or identifier ("Class of '92").
  • Any comments made with an email address that does not belong to you will get removed.

Leave a Reply

Any comments that do not follow the policy will not be published.

0/200 words