For Immediate Release

February 28, 2024

Press contact: Jesse Brooks,

ACRE Stands with Students Protesting Genocide in Chicago and Natick

Last week, the Department of Education announced civil rights inquiries into the Chicago IL, and Natick MA, school districts over charges of anti-semitism stemming from protests of Israel’s ongoing invasion and genocide in Gaza. The full content of the complaints are not known but they are related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin. In response to these inquiries, the Action Center on Race & The Economy (ACRE) released the following statement.

We are proud to stand with students in Chicago, Natick, and everywhere else young people are raising their voices to stop the genocide in Gaza. We, like Mayor Johnson, are “incredibly proud” of these students and hope that their families, communities, and teachers share that pride.” said ACRE Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Saqib Bhatti.

The Chicago complaint stems from a January 30th student walkout in support of the City Council’s Ceasefire measure. Students involved with the protest said they received “neutral to positive” reactions from their Teachers and Administrators for their actions, which also drew admiration from Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson who declared that he was “incredibly proud” of the student protestors. The Ceasefire measure passed with Mayor Johnson casting the tie breaking vote.

Chicago and Natick are just the latest of many Title VI complaints related to Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which has claimed 29,000 Palestinian lives since October 7th. While The Department of Education doesn’t disclose the content of its open cases, its website lists 69 open complaints related to “shared ancestry” since October 7th. Given the fact that only 8 cases were opened between October of 2022 and February 2023, it’s safe to assume that the vast majority relate to Gaza, and anecdotal evidence suggests most of these involve charges of anti-semitism.  

It is outrageous that any activism for Palestinian justice is immediately met with the charge of anti-semitism. These shameful efforts by adults, some with powerful and well funded organizations behind them, aim to intimidate students into silence. As the US Supreme Court wrote in 1969’s Tinker v. Des Moines “students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Said ACRE Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Saqib Bhatti