May 1, 2024 - News

Pro-Palestinian protests expand to Chicago high schools

Photo of the front of a high school

Jones College Prep High School in the South Loop. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Chicago high schoolers have joined the pro-Palestinian protest movement engulfing college campuses nationwide.

Why it matters: Despite efforts by university officials to tamp down protests, the demonstrations seem instead to be spreading to younger students, who targeted Wednesday because it marked college decision day for many.

The latest: Students from Jones Prep High School in the South Loop staged a sit-in on Wednesday to support Palestinians, while a counter group of Jewish students said they planned to rally holding Israeli flags.

Zoom in: Some Jewish parents gathered outside Jones College Prep High School during Wednesday's sit-in, including Claudia Mendelson, who told Axios her children were nervous: "I think they're scared. They feel uncomfortable."

  • Some Jewish leaders held a press conference at the Loop Synagogue on Wednesday afternoon with a handful of alders "to provide a critical perspective on the sit-ins," organizers wrote in a text.

Friction point: Jane Charney, an official at the Jewish United Fund, which organized the press conference, tells Axios she believes most of the student protesters are joining in "to be part of the in crowd, and the in crowd are antisemites."

Flashback: Hundreds of CPS high schoolers also protested the war in Gaza in January by walking out of classes and, in some cases, traveling to City Hall.

The big picture: The high school rallies took place as students at several local colleges — including the University of Chicago, DePaul, Loyola, UIC and Columbia College — continue protests and encampments on campus.

What we're watching: Whether sit-ins and walkouts spread to more Chicago Public Schools.

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