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Pro-Palestinian protest takes aim at Trump, Biden outside former president's NH rally

The demonstration was organized by UNH’s Palestinian Solidarity Group, which launched on campus after the start of the Israel-Hamas War.
Sarah Gibson
/
NHPR
The demonstration outside of Saturday's rally was organized by UNH’s Palestinian Solidarity Group, which launched on campus after the start of the Israel-Hamas War.

In his speech at the University of New Hampshire Saturday, Former President Trump again leaned into the anti-immigrant rhetoric that's defined his campaign, saying “they're poisoning the blood of our country."

That drew rebuke from President Biden's campaign, Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, and others who noted the comments echoed Nazi slogans about blood purity.

Just outside the arena where Trump spoke in Durham, a group of protestors pushed back on the leaders of both major political parties.

“President Biden, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” they shouted. “Donald Trump, you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide.”

The demonstration was organized by UNH’s Palestinian Solidarity Group, which launched on campus after the start of the Israel-Hamas War. Other demonstrators on hand carried signs that said “Free the Prisoners,” “No Hate on Campus,” and “Dump Trump.”

Adeena Ahsan, center, is a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire and helped to organize Saturday's protest.
Sarah Gibson
/
NHPR
Adeena Ahsan, center, is a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire and helped to organize Saturday's protest.

Adeena Ahsan, a graduate student who helped organize the protest, said they weren’t just protesting the current and former presidents’ foreign policy positions. They also wanted to push back on their school’s decision to give Trump a platform.

“It just really does not reflect the values that we are supposed to hold in our university,” Ahsan said. “And the university has stayed silent, so we are also out here demonstrating our First Amendment rights, of freedom of expression.”

Ahsan also noted that Trump’s campaign has at times failed to pay its bills for political rally-related costs.

“We think it’s insane that we are paying for this, not the city of Durham, not Trump’s campaign up front — our tuition is going towards this,” Ahsan said.

The university said they plan to bill Trump's campaign for security and associated costs of the event.

“As with all third-party visits, UNH bills the external party for all appropriate costs associated with the event,” UNH spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga said via email. “We will do so in this case consistent with past practice and anticipate being reimbursed.”

Elsewhere on campus Saturday, UNH student Christian Knightly said he was still deciding whether to vote in the upcoming presidential primary. The 20-year-old from Northwood said he’s undeclared politically but leans toward Biden — reluctantly. He’s not looking forward to the possibility of a Trump-Biden rematch in 2024.

“That’s my nightmare situation,” he said. “I just want somebody younger.”

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.