Edina School Board walks out after protesters, upset over students’ suspensions, take over meeting

A protest at the Edina School Board meeting Monday night over the suspension of two students escalated into shouting and board members walking out.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says the two girls were suspended for a chant they used in a pro-Palestine protest at school.

The slogan — “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — is considered by some be an antisemitic call for the elimination of Israel.

But Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN, said the students’ speech is being suppressed.

“We do not want schools to create an environment where Muslim students or Jewish students … feel somehow that messages are coming from educators and leaders are not necessarily fully reflective of the nature of the conflict,” Hussein told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The protest started outside the building, but demonstrators eventually made their way inside and sat down in the boardroom.

When the board turned the meeting over to public comment on its truth in taxation presentation, the first person to approach the microphone, Eva Hadjiyanis, started out by saying, “OK, to be fair, I don’t have any questions about taxes,” and was promptly cut off. “I am so disappointed to be from Edina,” she continued.

School Board Chair Erica Allenburg called for a recess while the crowd in the room grew more discontent.

“Why do we need to take a recess before talking about real issues?” one person cried out.

“Palestine will be free!” another crowd member bellowed while shaking a fist.

As the board filed out of the room, a chant of “Shame on you” broke out, followed by pro-Palestine chants, including “From the river to the sea.”

When the crowd settled down somewhat, Hussein stood up in front of the room and expressed his disappointment in the Edina School Board.

“The first action that they took tonight was to silence us,” Hussein said, later adding: “As public servants, their entire job was elected to sit there and listen to the public.”

The board eventually returned and voted right away to adjourn the meeting.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to the Edina School Board for a comment on Monday’s events.