Dozens of students and Bay Area residents participated in a car parade on Saturday afternoon to call for the return of people taken hostage by Hamas.
The parade occurs amid a reported rise of hate crimes targeting Jewish, Muslim and Arab students on campus tied to tensions over the Israel-Gaza war.
Organized by both Stanford and non-Stanford community members, the parade started on Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos — about 25 minutes away from campus — eventually making its way up El Camino Real to Stanford’s campus. Chants of “Bring them home” reverberated through the crowd.
“Family and friends … all got together,” said Dan Segev MBA ’24, who helped organize the event. “There were also people from the community who decided to join us.”
Participants drove through the Oval in cars flanked with Israeli and U.S. flags. Banners hung on the cars with pictures of the hostages and signs that read “bring them home.” Organizers had coordinated with the Stanford Department of Transportation to set up barricades prior to the event.
Segev said community members were inspired by similar commemoration efforts taking place worldwide.
“It’s the people … This is unprecedented, that all those people are held captive and many of the kids that are out there are orphans,” Segev said.
The caravan of cars concluded at the Oval, where participants then continued the rally on foot to White Plaza, where a display commemorating hostages had been set up. More than 240 people were taken hostage after the Hamas-led Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel.
Each photo of a hostage taken was accompanied by a pair of shoes and a red heart-shaped balloon. Walkers and wheelchairs were set up for homages of elderly captives, and strollers were set up for those of children.
“We wanted to symbolize the amount of people [kidnapped] and the variety of ages … to remember them … and not forget they were kidnapped,” said Omer Shiran Cohen, a Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Business who helped organize the display.
Ravit Danino, a non-Stanford affiliated community member who co-organized the parade, said each balloon was set up to represent an individual hostage. “Because there are many kids, unfortunately, there’s [toy cars] and the bear that represent the kids.”
“The hearts symbolize that our hearts are crying over what’s going on,” Segev said. “Many of those people who were kidnapped had their family killed, murdered, burned. There are horrible stories coming out from there.”
This is the second display to commemorate those taken hostage. For a week in White Plaza, an empty Shabbat table was set-up by Hillel and the Stanford Israel Association with 244 chairs to represent those taken hostage.
“Everyone should do their best to communicate what is hurt, what hurts them, and we can talk together,” Segev said.
“Bringing violence into this campus is something that is unacceptable and should be condemned on all levels. Students, leaders, everyone should condemn it because there’s no way there’s room for violence,” Segev said.