Campus, News

‘Free Palestine’ banner dropped from College of Arts and Sciences roof

Palestine banner protest
A hand-painted banner with the words “Free Palestine” hangs from the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences. At least three BU students dropped the 15-foot long banner from the roof of CAS March 18 in the early morning. KAITO AU/DFP STAFF

During the early hours of Friday morning, at least three Boston University students ascended to the roof of the College of Arts and Sciences building and dropped a hand-painted, red-and-black banner off the edge. 

The approximately 15-foot long banner featured a faceless officer clad in blue uniform aiming a firearm at a person in a hijab waving the Palestinian flag. Flames engulfed parts of the banner.


The BU chapter of the student-activist group Students for Justice in Palestine claimed ownership of the banner and uploaded a post on its Instagram account Friday with the hashtags “​​#freepalestine” and “#NeutralityisComplicity.”

The banner stayed up until around noon, at which time BU Police Department officers arrived, responding to a report of students on the roof, BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email.

A BU SJP member took down the banner in compliance with a request from the BUPD, a current e-board member confirmed. BU SJP declined to comment further, citing safety concerns.

Any “unauthorized presence” on University premises, facilities or property constitutes a violation of the code of student responsibilities. The Dean of Students office and the department of judicial affairs “may” look into the matter if a possible violation of the code of student responsibilities is discovered, Riley wrote.

“No one should be on a rooftop without permission. It is risky and potentially dangerous,” Riley added.

Chance Charley, former SJP president and 2021 CAS graduate, said the intent behind the banner was to raise awareness of the United States and University’s ties with Israel and its oppression of Palestinians. Charley also said the stunt was coordinated to help promote events SJP has been promoting since Monday for Israeli Apartheid Week.

“There’s only so much the administration can really do with this,” Charley said. “If people can see that and go to our Instagram page and come to one of those and learn more, I think that’s the silver lining even if we do get retaliated against from the administration or from Zionists.”

The “Deadly Exchange” referenced in the banner refers to the role U.S. law enforcement — such as police, border patrol, I.C.E. and even campus police — plays in validating Israel’s military dominance over the occupied Palestinian territories, as described by activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace. 

One way this occurs is when law enforcement officers are sent to Israel to train with Israeli military and security forces, Jewish Voice for Peace’s website.

In 2017, BUPD Chief Kelly Nee, along with other University and City officers, attended a counter-terrorism seminar in Israel led by the Israeli government security forces, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.

Charley noted this as an example of BU’s involvement in the “Deadly Exchange.”

“It’s not right for campus security to be learning military tactics and learning from military officials who are rolling over an occupied people,” Charley said. “That has no place anywhere.”

The architect Salem AlQudwa will speak about humanitarian architecture on the Gaza strip tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in an event held by BU SJP in room B19 of the School of Theology. 

On Friday, BU SJP will be presenting their “own version of the Apartheid wall” from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in Marsh Plaza.



  1. Why does this university allow hate ?

  2. Thanks for covering this important public display by the BU SJP members. We are all complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians: the house demolitions, the displacement of Palestinians, the administrative detentions, the incarcerations of Palestinian children, the stealing of water, the siege of Gaza. We are all complicit because we send our tax dollars to support the infrastructure which support these oppressive violations of international law,
    Good job for amplifying this issue.

  3. One would hope that the students involved will not be punished for their use of their right of free speech. The Israeli occupation and expanding takeover of the West Bank are significant barriers to Palestinian freedom and human rights. While I support Israeli rights to their own nation, particularly given the historical ways they have been persecuted for centuries, this does not give Israel the right to ignore agreements that were made with Palestinians about land nor the daily difficulties Palestinians face in working and living because of other restrictive actions. More of us need to learn about the Palestinian side of this conflict.