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Pro-Palestine protesters briefly obstruct P-Rade, continues as normal

People on sidewalk holding up signs with phrases such as “STOP FUNDING GENOCIDE.”
Pro-Palestine protesters on Elm Drive near Whitman College.
Christopher Bao / The Daily Princetonian

Chants of “Free, free Palestine” and “’99, chug a beer” overlapped on the P-Rade route outside Whitman College on Saturday, May 25 as pro-Palestine protesters attempted to disrupt the University’s signature Reunions tradition.

Approximately 30 pro-Palestine protesters stopped the P-Rade for about two minutes, rushing into the middle of Elm Drive and sitting in the road with linked arms. The group — including current students and alumni in their class jackets — was almost immediately handed written arrest warnings from University officials. The protesters then cleared the road and began chanting at the P-Rade from the sides of the road, holding signs and Palestinian flags. No arrests were made.

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Some onlookers reacted with bemusement and annoyance, with one onlooker yelling, “Get out of the road!” at protesters.

Another alumnus wearing a button identifying him as Paul Lettow ’99 told protesters, “Get the hell out of here.” 

“Princeton University, we know which side you’re on,” protesters chanted. “Remember South Africa, remember Vietnam.” 

Some held up signs with QR codes linking to a “No Donations Until Divestment Pledge,” which has been signed by over 300 alumni, graduating seniors, and parents of students thus far.

The disruption at the P-Rade follows a walkout earlier today at Richardson Auditorium, where several dozen protesters interrupted an address by University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, holding up their hands painted in red.

As the P-Rade moved down Elm Drive, some of the marching alums joined in on the chants, and a few people briefly exited the parade to join protesters on the side of the route. Some marchers from the Class of 1999 held Palestinian flags, and a member of the Old Guard sported a “Veterans Against Genocide” shirt. One man marching with the Class of 1959 attempted to throw his water on the protestors.

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The rest of the P-Rade continued with its typical orange fanfare, ranging from a Class of 1974 banner celebrating the Nude Olympics to a dancing Boston Dynamics robot dog wearing tiger ears. The procession was led by Don Fletcher ’39 GS ’51 following the passing of Joe Schein ’37, announced by the Princeton Alumni Weekly earlier today.

Scott Cunningham ’74, who was on campus for his 50th Reunion, told the ‘Prince’ in an interview, “It’s really amazing and surprising that the class is still so large, and still seems to be in great health and alive.” 

“Everybody seems to be in much better shape than I anticipated,” he said. 

Regarding the possibility of action at the P-Rade, Cunningham said, “I think it’s unfortunate if people choose this event and try to disrupt it but you know, there are places and forums where you can articulate your opinions. Why they chose something of an inappropriate one is kind of sad.” 

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Kate Deanehan ’99 told the ‘Prince,’ “It’s really nice reconnecting with people and seeing people that I haven’t heard from in decades.” 

Both Deanehan and Cunningham stated that the pro-Palestinian protests were not a topic of discussion among alumni, and Deanehan was not aware of any action that had taken place earlier in the weekend. 

“I haven’t heard anyone talking about it … So it hasn’t really impacted us,” she said.

At around 5:25 p.m., protesters began marching up Elm Drive towards McCosh Courtyard, the original site of the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment“ for a scheduled "Community Gathering" reflection event. Amid chanting, they urged alumni to scan their QR code or take a card encouraging them to withhold donations from the University.

Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the investigations editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

Olivia Sanchez is an associate News editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from New Jersey and often covers the graduate school and academic departments.

Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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