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Vermont House acknowledges Burlington shooting of Palestinian American, Palestinian students

Empty chairs sit at two rows of curved desks.
Sophie Stephens
Vermont Public
Burlington Rep. Mary-Katherine Stone addressed the Vermont House Wednesday morning, and received a standing ovation for her comments.

The Vermont House acknowledged the November shooting of two Palestinian Americans and one Palestinian in Burlington during the first day of the 2024 legislative session.

Burlington Rep. Mary-Katherine Stone, a Democrat/Progressive, addressed the House Wednesday morning.

"A good number of us recall how our lives changed on the evening of Nov. 25, 2023," Stone said. "That was the evening that three young, vivacious, intelligent and innocent Palestinian American students — Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad — were shot just four blocks from my home in Burlington."

A photo of three young people wearing keffiyehs and with their arms around one another.
Institute for Middle East Understanding
From right, Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmed.

The three college students were visiting family in Burlington in November when they were shot. Awartani is paralyzed from the chest down, according to his family.

Police have arrested and charged a suspect, Jason J. Eaton, with three counts of attempted murder. Eaton has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

More from Vermont Public: Man charged with shooting two Palestinian Americans and a Palestinian to stay in prison until trial

Court records show that at the time of the shooting, two of the three students were wearing keffiyehs, a traditional Palestinian scarf, and that they were speaking English and Arabic.

Some family members and advocates have called for the shooting to be investigated as a hate crime.

Reports of Islamophobia — and antisemitism — have increased in the U.S. following the latest outbreak in the Israel-Hamas war since Oct. 7.

And yet, in Burlington, Rep. Mary-Katherine Stone says amid the pain of this shooting, there's also been uplifting moments, too.

"While the horrific crime yields feelings of anger, confusion, grief and fear — all of which we are still grappling with — it also yields stories of hope, resiliency, strength and radical love," Stone said.

Stone received a standing ovation for her comments.

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