Pentagon event inspires protest “to push for a ceasefire” in Gaza

A protestor waves a Palestinian flag in front of Corbett Center Student Union. March 28, 2024.
A protestor waves a Palestinian flag in front of Corbett Center Student Union. March 28, 2024.
David Castañeda

Protesters from a pro-Palestine organization in Las Cruces gathered in front of Corbett Center Student Union on Thursday, March 28 to protest the job fair, Taking the Pentagon to the People.” The protestors’ stated goal was to dissuade people from working for the Department of Defense and to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

“And [we’re here] also, just to encourage people to push for a ceasefire like everyone here. Just let them know that we’re not supporting the DOD and that [attendees] are supporting murder,” said a protestor, who wished to be kept anonymous. 

 They took issue with the job fair event because of continuous U.S. funding to Israel throughout the escalation of the conflict in the Gaza strip. The nation has been giving aid to Israel since 1949. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the United States gave $3.6 billion in military aid to Israel in 2023 and is posed to continue its aid throughout 2024. 

A protestor raises his fist in solidarity for Palestinians. March 28, 2024. (David Castañeda)

“Bringing the Pentagon to the people? What do they bring to the people of Palestine? They bring bombs and guns…” a protestor said. 

Since October 2023, college students have protested on campuses across the United States on both sides of the issue. The ongoing conflict in Gaza is often a contentious issue because of the diverse religious and ethnic identities of students. NMSU Students for Socialism held a protest in October similar to this one. 

As part of their protest against the DOD, activists wrote messages in chalk on the sidewalks of campus, covering the pavement in front of Corbett and parked military tanks. 

“We have some signs and some [messages] on the sidewalk,” a protester said. “It says ‘Blood Money’ and also ‘Tryouts for Oil Companies,’ right? They were parked right there next to them, but after we put our stuff, they moved their [tanks] over there. You know what I mean? So, there they are.” 

Protestors then wrote more messages next to the tanks’ new location, where they stayed the rest of the day. Many of the messages written around campus targeted the U.S. military, saying things like “military are murderers” and “Department of deaths.” 

Chadwick Pilkington, the Community Outreach Chair of the Student Veterans Organization, expressed his anger about the messages, saying they reminded him of messages that were propagated during the Vietnam War.

“[Veterans] came back to an America that hated them and shunned them, which made everything worse. If we don’t address the increasing amount of targeted speech, I feel like there’s a distinct possibility that we will relive that,” Pilkington said. 

He also discussed his frustration with the university for not taking any action against the messages.

Pedestrian argues with a member of the Pro-Palestine organization in defense of Israel. March 28, 2024. (David Castañeda)

“I know that this type of rhetoric is going to continue,” Pilkington said. “And until the university puts their foot down and says, ‘Hey, you can have freedom speech, but you can’t call out or single out groups of individuals,’ it’s going to get worse.”

Taking the Pentagon to the People was a two-day affair hosted in CCSU on March 27 and 28. The event involved panels, speakers, and tabling. Recruiters from various organizations informed students about the careers they offered to students in all majors. 

“We bring this program to try to educate not only the faculty and staff, but the students as to the opportunities of working for the federal government; more specifically with us in the Department of Defense,” explained Therron Thomas, a recruiter for Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. 

Recruiters at TTPTTP emphasized that internships and jobs with the Department of Defense are important for students beginning their careers. 

“There is a lot of theoretical stuff you learn in college,” NCIS Special Agent Sam Tubbs explained. “But I think this is actually with the application side. And it’s a great, you know, resume pattern per se, to say that, ‘I’ve worked towards x, y and z and now I have this much work experience.’” 

Some recruiters, who arrived before the protest started, were unaware that it was happening. Many recruiters welcomed the dialogue and saw it as an outlet for people to exercise their right to protest, which they said is a right that the Department of Defense fought for those participating to have. 

“Everybody has a right to do what they want to do,” Thomas said. “You know, so if they want to protest, they can protest. And, you know, I spent 30 years in the military and part of the reason I’ve done that was to give people freedom, and you know, more power to them. I love the fact that they’re doing that.” 

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About the Contributors
Elizabeth Anne Andrews
Elizabeth Anne Andrews, Staff Writer
Elizabeth Anne Andrews is starting her first semester with The Round Up as a Staff Writer. She is currently a freshman at NMSU, majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. She grew up in a military family so she’s lived all over the US and Germany. Ever since she was young, Elizabeth Anne has always been curious about everything around her. It comes from experiencing different cultures and being homeschooled, both opportunities which allowed her to grow in her independence and creativity. In her free time, Elizabeth Anne enjoys writing poems, listening to music, or hanging out with her three siblings and cat.
David Castañeda
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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