Clashes and Arrests: Protests Escalate on U.S. Campuses Over Gaza Conflict

About 100 people were detained yesterday at the Boston College where demonstrators were gathered in support of the Palestinians, a wave of protests has spread across the USA and in the last few days there is a threat of escalation with the police

by Sededin Dedovic
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Clashes and Arrests: Protests Escalate on U.S. Campuses Over Gaza Conflict
© Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Students protesting at universities across the United States due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, some of whom clashed with the police, have "dug in" their decision and today pledged to continue demonstrations, while several colleges condemned university presidents for calling the police to remove protesters as reported by AssosiatedPress.

While Columbia University in New York continues negotiations with pro-Palestinian students entrenched on campus, the university's Senate formed a task force on Friday to investigate the leadership's actions, which last week called the police in an attempt to "clear the protest," leading to conflicts and over 100 arrests.

Although the university had repeatedly set and then postponed deadlines to dismantle the camp, on Friday, it emailed students that a police re-entry "would be counterproductive" and added that it hopes negotiations will bring "concrete signs of progress as early as tonight." As the death toll rises in the Gaza conflict, demonstrators across the United States are demanding that universities sever financial ties with Israel and disengage from companies they say enable the conflict.

Some Jewish students say the protests have turned into antisemitism, and they fear stepping onto campus.

Students from Massachusetts of Technology, Harvard University and others rally at a protest encampment by The Scientists Against© Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Decisions to call the police, which have led to hundreds of arrests across the United States, have prompted faculty administrations in California, Georgia, and Texas to initiate or vote on votes of no confidence in their leadership.

These are largely symbolic reprimands, without authority to dismiss. But tensions are mounting pressure on university authorities struggling to resolve protests as graduation ceremonies approach. California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, gave demonstrators barricaded in a building since Monday until Friday afternoon to vacate to "avoid arrest." That deadline passed.

Only some of the demonstrators left, but others arrived, and their total number doubled. Since demonstrators refused police this week, the campus is closed until the end of the semester. In Colorado, police on Friday went through the student camp at the Auraria Campus in Denver with three universities and colleges, arresting about 40 demonstrators on trespassing charges.

Students representing the Columbia camp that inspired a wave of protests across the United States said on Friday they had reached an impasse with administrators and intended to continue protesting.

Students from Massachusetts of Technology, Harvard University and others rally at a protest encampment by The Scientists Against© Scott Eisen / Getty Images

After meetings on Thursday and Friday, student negotiators said the university had not met their primary demand for divestment, although there had been progress in efforts to make finances more transparent.

"We will not rest until Columbia divests," said Jonathan Ben Menahem, a fourth-year doctoral student. In a letter to Columbia students on Friday night, the university leadership said it "supports ongoing discussions with student leaders of the camp." An executive committee report of that university's Senate found that the administration had taken "many actions and decisions detrimental to Columbia University," including calling the police and allowing the arrest of students without consulting faculties, misrepresenting student protest groups, and engaging private investigators.

On Friday, Columbia student Kimani Jackm withdrew comments made in an online video in January that drew widespread attention because he said "zionists do not deserve to live" and they should thank him for not killing them.

James, who was a spokesperson for the pro-Palestinian camp at Columbia University, was banned from entering campus. At Indiana University in Bloomington, police clashed with demonstrators on Thursday and arrested 34 people, 36 were arrested at Ohio State University, and one person was arrested at the University of Connecticut.

The University of Southern California canceled its graduation ceremony on May 10 because more than 90 demonstrators were arrested on campus. Universities where faculty members have initiated or voted no confidence in their presidents include Cal Poly Humboldt, the University of Texas at Austin, and Emory University.

100 students detained in Boston

About 100 people were detained yesterday in a student town of a Boston college where demonstrators had gathered in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Police in riot gear removed their camp with pitched tents and evacuated students.

During the evacuation, police detained 100 people, and some of them were later released. Those who refused to show their student IDs were taken to the police station. The pro-Palestinian American demonstrators' movement has gained momentum in recent days, following the first such rally held at Columbia University in New York.

Students protesting the Gaza Strip war demand that schools sever financial ties with Israel and distance themselves from companies aiding the conflict. Some Jewish students say the protests have turned into antisemitism and have begun to fear attending college lectures.

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