Richmond’s Palestine Protesters Receive Response from Senator Kaine

by | May 10, 2024 | COMMUNITY NEWS, DOWNTOWN RVA, POLITICS, RICHMOND POLITICS, SOCIAL JUSTICE, VIRGINIA POLITICS

On Monday in Monroe Park, protesters gathered to march to the Richmond office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. This demonstration occurred one week after the police raid on a protest for Palestine on the VCU campus just a block away.

The march included a number of VCU students as well as Zaid Mahdwai. Mahdwai was arrested outside of a Kaine event at Quirk Hotel last month. Following his arrest, he received a text message from a Richmond Police officer asking him to take a break on taking part of protests. 

The protesters presented an open letter for Senator Kaine. The letter mentioned by the protesters referred to an earlier correspondence stating that as of October 23, 2023, “over 5,000 Palestinians had been killed, with the vast majority being civilians.” It further noted that the death toll has now surpassed 34,000. Additionally, the letter pointed out that Kaine supported the allocation of $26 billion to Israel.

The letter also includes a list of demands. At the top of that list includes publicly calling on VCU President Michael Rao to meet with representatives of student protesters and demanding that Kaine denounce the police attack on VCU student protesters on the previous Monday.

Protesters marched downtown to Senator Kaine’s office and started delivering speeches on the road outside his building. Although Senator Kaine was in Washington D.C., a staff member welcomed them and receive their letter. That staff member was Richmond Hip Hop and political blogger (and former writer at RVA Mag) Marc Cheatham of the Cheats Movement. Senator Kaine’s office had not issued any comment during the march. The protesters returned to Monroe Park and dispersed without any threats of violence from the police.

Richmond's Palestine Protesters Receive Response from Senator Kaine by Goad Gatsby_RVA Magazine 2024
Madhawi shakes hands with Cheatham.

Three days later, Kaine’s office responded to the letter sent by the protesters in a press release. In his response, Kaine mentions that he has been in ongoing discussions regarding the “Israel-Hamas conflict.” He notes that during the attack on October 7th, Hamas killed approximately 1,200 individuals, predominantly civilians, and affirms Israel’s right to self-defense.

Kaine also stated “But Palestinians who had nothing to do with the October 7 attack should not be caught in the crossfire. They have a right to receive crucial humanitarian aid and to live in safety and dignity.”

He also noted “This crisis has spiraled out of control, putting civilians, U.S. servicemembers, and aid workers throughout the region at serious risk.” 

“I’m encouraged that the Administration has recently paused certain offensive weapons transfers” Kaine included a reference to a new change in the White House policy that temporarily paused some weapons to Israel.

When it came to denouncing the police raid on VCU campus, Kaine affirmed students first amendment right but said that, “Ultimately, decisions regarding college and university leadership and policy should be made by school administrators, boards, students, and parents—not by Congress.” However, back in December Republicans from the House of Representatives used their body as bully pulpit to hold hearing on university Presidents that they did not agree with their handling of campus protests.

Richmond's Palestine Protesters Receive Response from Senator Kaine by Goad Gatsby_RVA Magazine 2024
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine in Richmond, Virginia on March 24, 2024.
Goad Gatsby

Goad Gatsby

A journalist from Richmond and contributor on Open Source RVA on WRIR 97.3FM.




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