Northside College Prep Walks Out as Chicago City Council Votes to Pass Cease-fire Resolution

Students from NEIU and nearby school Northside College Prep walking in a circle around NEIU main campus quad
Students from NEIU and nearby school Northside College Prep walking in a circle around NEIU main campus quad
Dan Maurer
Overhead view of students during a speech made by Yaya Ramirez, the president of NEIUs Justice for Palestine


On Jan. 30, 2024, more than 15 high schools across Chicago walked out and occupied City Hall in solidarity with Palestine. The protest served as a response to the mass killings in Palestine since October 7th and to demand the city immediately approve the Ceasefire Resolution that was proposed months ago. 

In a similar fashion, the students of Northside College Prep (NCP) collaborated with NEIU’s branch of Justice4Palestine (J4P) to stage a walkout of their own on Jan. 31, 2024. At roughly 10:30 a.m., hundreds of students poured out of NCP wrapped in Keffiyehs, holding Palestinian flags and posters that denounced genocide and racism, and set out to call for an end to the siege on Gaza. 

Overhead view of students during a speech made by Yaya Ramirez, the president of NEIU’s Justice for Palestine (Ryland Roberts)
Students crossing Bryn Mawr, as they make their way to NEIU
Students crossing Bryn Mawr, as they make their way to NEIU (Dan Maurer)


To the smattering of NEIU students and faculty who had joined – a high school tour led out into Village Square to observe, included – Yaya continued: 

“We have to be the ones to come together…because what we are witnessing is a well-documented genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

— Yaya Ramirez

When the NCP students entered NEIU, their chants could be heard for blocks as they circled the quad several times before congregating to share prepared statements. Their words and the responses from the crowd they elicited echoed off the stone walls of Bernard Brommel Hall (BBH) and Ronald Williams Library.

NEIU J4P organizer Yaya Ramirez took to the microphone to rally the supporters. She said, “This institution (NEIU) has chosen to remain silent on this issue…In this moment of political repression and harassment and intimidation.” She also said some of the NEIU Faculty members denied Palestinian suffering, referencing the anonymous UPI survey comments that were recently released that were featured in a J4P Instagram post.  

NEIU police and an undercover police car monitoring students during the walk (Leslie Lozada)

Five students from NCP spoke to the rallied crowd, but one senior who will remain nameless given they are a minor put it succinctly: “This is not a conflict, not a situation in the Middle East, and not a war. This is a genocide, and it’s time to call it like it is…Today marks the 116th day since October 7th. It has been 116 days and 76 years. Enough is enough and it has been more than enough. Ceasefire Now!”

Along the march to NEIU, students were met with supportive honks and cheers as they passed various schools and businesses. The youngsters of Peterson Elementary School playing at recess stopped their games and looked on as NCP marched by. Some looked perplexed, others looked excited by the commotion of older students and a couple even joined in on the chants, mouthing along: “Free Free Palestine.”

Despite the overwhelming support shown throughout the demonstration, as the students returned to the NCP campus, there was a single counterprotester: An older white man dressed in a light blue turtleneck stood across the street and held two middle fingers up at the returning students. Between taking pictures and video of the teenagers, he accosted them, verbally yelling, “Fuck you,” before receding into Petco Auto Parts. No students were harmed and did not engage with this man. 

While NEIU police and unmarked CPD cars were on-site guiding the demonstrators throughout the march, they were nowhere to be found during this altercation. The Independent reached out to an NCP faculty member involved with their student newspaper, the Hoofprint, for clarification, to no avail.

Exterior of Northside College Prep, where students are gathering to march (Zachariah Simmons)

The walkout and demonstration was a joint collaboration between NEIU J4P and NCP’s Muslim Student Association and had no connection to NEIU’s faculty or administration. The Independent reached out to both Director of Marketing and Communications, Chris Childers, and Interim University President, Dr. Katrina Bell-Jordan, but received no response. 

Following the walkout and amidst heavy protest and calls for action from the Chicago community, the City Council voted to pass the ceasefire resolution with Mayor Brandon Johnson breaking the tie.

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