Protesters outside the Oxford Union today demonstrating against Nancy Pelosi.
Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Nancy Pelosi protested by hundreds of pro-Palestinian students

Speaker Emerita of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was met with a fiery response by at least 200 student activists today.

She was protested both inside the Oxford Union and outside of it.

Pelosi, a veteran Democratic party leader that served under Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden, spoke in two events today and will speak for a third later today; one for international affairs society Oxford Speaks, and two for the Oxford Union. 

At the Union, she addressed the chamber for its Benazhir Bhutto Memorial Lecture, and will later speak in a debate on populism alongside such figures as Oli Dugmore of PoliticsJOE.

The outside protest, attended by more than 200 students, assembled outside of the main gate of the Oxford Union. It is affiliated with Youth Demand, a new youth resistance campaign calling for an end to genocide.

The protest in its early stages

It featured chants such as: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, “De-de colonise”, “What do we want? Ceasefire”, “Israel is a terrorist state”, “Occupation no more”, and “London to Gaza, long live the intifada”.

The slogan, ‘Disclose, divest: we will not stop, we will not rest’ was also stated. This slogan was borrowed from students in Columbia University, and the protests are partially in solidarity with those demonstrations. 

Two members of the Youth Demand, a new youth resistance campaign calling for an end to genocide, silently protested inside the Union’s chamber. They displayed Palestinian flags in front of Pelosi, and were later removed by the police.

The protesters were displaying Palestinian flags and wearing T-shirts for Youth Demand, a new organisation calling for an end to genocide. Noise from outside was sufficiently loud that much of what Pelosi was saying could not be heard inside.

One of the protesters, Rosy Wilson, said that the only thing that could be heard inside was the protest, as Pelosi’s microphone was not on.

The noise from outside of the chamber was loud enough to ensure that Pelosi could not be heard for much of her address.

Pelosi leaving the chamber

An organiser commented that: “In my four years, this is the biggest pro-Palestinian demo outside the Union we’ve ever had”.

Within the chamber, Pelosi remarked: “The suffering of Gaza must stop. We want peace on both sides. Both sides must agree to it.” The Oxford Student also covered an event Pelosi attended for OxfordSpeaks earlier in the day.

At that event, a student questioning Pelosi condemned the U.S. “sending weapons to Israel”, saying that “many in this university agree with me.” She also said that “sending aid to Gaza does nothing when bombs […] are used to massacre”.

She also asked Pelosi to “explain [her] stance on students peacefully protesting on college campuses”.

Pelosi responded by thanking the student for her “graciousness and thoroughness” in her phrasing, and said that she “[hadn’t] objected to students protesting on college campuses” in Columbia and other U.S. colleges, but instead objected to anti-Semitism.

On the conflict, she said that ‘”it has to stop now” and “it has to end”, saying that the “manner in which [the response] has been done” had resulted in “tens of thousands of people killed”.

She also said that Democrats had insisted aid in a recent package for Ukraine and Israel “couldn’t pass unless it had aid for Gaza” saying that the student had “no idea how hard it was to get Republicans to vote for that.”

She also said that “if you could think of a worse way to respond, you couldn’t think of a worse way than what Netanyahu did”, saying that it had reached the “fifth level of all this – famine”.

In the Union, Pelosi remarked: “America has to be a strong supporters of Israel, and the strong anti-Semitism that has emerged.”

She added: “Netanyahu just has to go, he just has to go.”

One protester, after leaving the chamber, remarked: “I think she was just f*cking terrified”.

Police escorting the protesters outside

Rosy Wilson commented: “Nancy Pelosi and the administration she represents are not only complicit, but contributing to genocide. We went into the Union today, not to stop her from speaking, but to hold space for the 34,000 civilians, including 12,000 children, that are now dead as a direct result of the actions of her government, and those in coalition with them, right now.”

“When the justice system doesn’t hold them accountable, we will. Youth Demand were inside the chamber today, but the demonstration was a result of collaboration and cooperation of students and the local community who will not stand for war criminals in our institutions.”

A protester, who wished to remain anonymous, commented: “It’s great to see such high turnout here and consistently at protests for Palestine. I’m here expressing complete solidarity with the people of Palestine and with resistance movements worldwide, particularly in light of the campus occupations in the US.”

Youth Demand stated: “Warmongers like Nancy Pelosi are not welcome on University campuses. When children are being murdered, and hospitals are being bombed, we will not sit down and be quiet whilst these people are given platforms.”

“We must stand up and take action, because we aren’t f***ing around anymore.”

The Oxford Union stated: “The Oxford Union Society’s founding principle is that of freedom of speech and the open exchange of ideas. In this spirit, we support the right to peaceful protest. There was an incident inside the chamber which was dealt with by security.”

This article will be updated to reflect new developments.

Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys and Valida Pau for the in-Union image