Palestine student supporters and others rally for peace, aid

Several hundred protestors hold a pro Palestinian rally in front of the CNN Center, Friday, October 20, 2023, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /


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Several hundred protestors hold a pro Palestinian rally in front of the CNN Center, Friday, October 20, 2023, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /


A rally organized by a Spelman College sophomore to show local student concern for Palestinians drew hundreds of people to Centennial Olympic Park Friday afternoon and evening.

“It was overwhelming,” said organizer Rokiyah Darbo. “I thought I was going to be the only one speaking.”

“There needs to be a more humane response,” she said, referring to the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza amid the escalating crisis.

Israel has launched repeated air strikes on Gaza in the past two weeks in response to a surprise attack Oct. 6 by Hamas that killed more than 1,400 people, including children and the elderly. Hamas is a militant group that controls Gaza.

In response, Israel has launched air attacks on Gaza, killing more than 2,800 people, according to the Associated Press. Surviving Palestinians in Gaza have been ravaged by the attacks, with millions of people without electricity or food.

Many humanitarian groups have called for a cease-fire and for aid to Palestinians living in Gaza. On Saturday, 20 aid trucks arrived, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday in Atlanta, protesters held signs with messages like “Free Palestine” and “END ALL U.S. AID TO ISRAEL”. Various local leaders spoke at the protest and lead chants. They originally planned to march to City Hall but looped back to the CNN Center. Many prayed and sang.

In addition to students, families with children in strollers and many older residents attended. Some were from other countries and said they appeal to the U.S. to broker peace.

Two Irish women, Deirdre and Helen Keogh, who are in Atlanta visiting their brother took time out of their short vacation to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“We’d like to see the (United States) to stop funding weapons to the Israelis ... and to recognize the state of Palestine,” Helen Keogh said.

The rally began at 4 p.m. on the corner of Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Marietta Street and went until 8 p.m. In addition to Darbo, the Spelman student, The Black Alliance for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, the Muslim Student Association at Kennesaw State University, the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation also helped gather supporters.

Another pro-Palestinian rally is planned for Sunday starting at the Consulate General of Israel at 1 p.m.

— Staff writer Caroline Silva contributed to this article.

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