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School of Creative and Performing Arts

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Amidst the ongoing genocide in Gaza, Cincinnati high school students from the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), took a stand on Monday Dec. 5th, staging a walkout and marching to City Hall in solidarity with those affected by the violence.

SCPA students, organized by senior Braxton James Simmons, voiced their concerns about the loss of innocent lives. Simmons stated, “If we don’t stop what’s happening in Palestine now, the same devil will come knocking on our door. And by that time, it’ll be too late.” Chanting slogans like “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide,” they aimed to draw attention to the impact of the violence.

The teens also held a moment of silence for Palestinians who have been killed. When asked about the lack of silence for Israeli lives, Simmons said, “The reason why we didn’t do a moment of silence for Israel is not because we don’t care about the loss of Israeli lives, but it’s because we care about the loss of Palestinian lives that haven’t been yet vocalized.”

Another chant used in many protests around the world, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is a sentiment deemed offensive by some for its perceived antisemitic connotations.

Community Concerns

A UC sophomore student, Phoebe Litwak, spoke to WLWT about her feeling unsafe on campus. Students on the campus of University of Cincinnati hosted a similar protest just two weeks prior. Litwak, who wears a Star of David necklace, spoke about the precautions she takes, such as tucking the necklace inside her clothing.

Litwak raised concerns about the potential consequences of dismantling Israel, “I keep asking the question what will happen to Jews if there’s no more Israel and no one has an answer for me. That is what that chant is saying, that there will be no more Israel.”

Both UC and SCPA students have maintained their focus on acknowledging and advocating for the loss and destruction of Palestinian lives.

CPS Response

In response to the demonstration, Iris Roley, founder of the Black United Front, commended the students for their courage and passion, emphasizing the importance of not silencing their expression. Cincinnati Public Schools issued a statement the same afternoon: “CPS supports students using their voices, as long as it is safe and not harmful to peers, recognizing that understanding different perspectives fosters a culture of tolerance and inclusivity. No students were disciplined for participating in the walkout, though discipline may be issued for students who did not return to school per the CPS Code of Conduct.

Cincinnati Students Walk Out to Rally For Palestine  was originally published on