Protesters march at the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine’s Stop the U.S. Backed Genocide against Gaza rally on Oct. 21, 2023, in Chicago.
Protesters march at the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine’s “Stop the U.S. Backed Genocide against Gaza” rally on Oct. 21, 2023, in Chicago.
Una Cleary

BREAKING: Protest in downtown Chicago calls for cease-fire and support for Palestine

Editor’s Note: The DePaulia’s fundamental commitment to truth means it must report without fear or favor. We are dedicated to reporting stories that affect the lives of DePaul community members and Chicago residents. This duty means we will report on topics that a single story cannot capture. We are steadfast in our commitment to earnestly seek out and faithfully represent competing voices. Therefore, our coverage of this story will continue.


Thousands of protestors flooded the streets of downtown Chicago Saturday, Oct. 21, to call for the immediate cease-fire of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war more than two weeks ago.

The rally was held at Michigan Avenue and Ida B. Wells Drive where families, college students and community organizers voiced their support for Palestine and to pressure the U.S. to call for a cease-fire. 

The Israel-Hamas war has claimed 4,385 lives since a Hamas attack on Israel Oct. 7. Several hostages were taken in the initial attack. 

A young protester holds up a sign at a rally in Chicago Oct. 21, 2023. (Una Cleary)

On Friday, Hamas released two of the hostages, a mother and daughter from the Chicago area.

A former DePaul student, who was granted anonymity by The DePaulia because of safety concerns, came to the march to protest what the former student called the long-standing oppression against Palestinians.

The former student is a Palestinian community activist from Plainfield, a Chicago suburb where a 6-year-old Muslim boy was killed Monday, Oct. 16. This attack is being investigated as a hate crime.

The killing of Wadea Al Fayoume heightened tensions in the Chicago area, but the DePaul alum said the reasons for attending the protest were long standing. 

“Why we’re out here today has been why we’ve been out for the past years and years. The reason hasn’t changed, we all want a free and liberated Palestine,” the DePaul alum said.

Participants carried Palestinian flags and banners, repeating chants as the crowd began to multiply. College students from the Midwest area also convened downtown on Saturday to participate in the protest. 

Aya Khayati, a Marquette University student, made the trip to Chicago to protest.

“I feel like there needs to be more awareness because a lot of college students don’t know what’s happening and don’t really care to inform themselves,” Khayati said. 

Khayati took the opportunity to come to Chicago because her university has not been holding protests, she said.

“I wish there was a protest happening at my school,” Khayati said.

Jewish Chicagoans also came to stand in solidarity with Palestinians. Caren VanSlyke, the chair of the committee for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, an Oak Park organization, has been supporting this cause for over 20 years.

“I’m here in solidarity because I believe in basic human rights, and I think that Palestinian people have been deprived of their basic human rights,” VanSlyke said. “I think Jews need to stand in solidarity with Palestinians.”

This latest war in the Middle East has divided people not only there but across the globe. News reports have documented a rising fear of hate crimes against both Jewish and Muslim Americans because of the conflict.

A recent NPR poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say the United States should publicly support Israel, though younger Americans are less likely to hold that view.

Thousands of people showed up in protest of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. (Una Cleary)

As thousands of people took to Michigan Avenue, many voiced their support for the federal U.S. House Resolution 786, which calls for an immediate cease-fire and de-escalation in Israel and occupied Palestine.

For VanSlyke, this is the most important aspect.

“Call your representative and have them support Resolution 786,” she said. “The most important thing right now is to have a cease-fire, then we can have humanitarian aid.”

As Chicagoans and residents from neighboring Midwestern cities came to gather in solidarity and support for Palestinians, many said this is not the end for the fight for liberation. 

“We will come out with 25,000 people, we will do it tomorrow, we will do it every single day until someone listens,” the DePaul alum said.

Editor’s Note: This version of the story corrects “Palestine” to “Palestinians” in paragraphs 14 and 21. 

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