US

Graduation cancelled and hundreds arrested as student anti-Israel protests sweep US

Student protests against Israel’s war in Gaza continue to spread across the US, following last week’s arrest of more than 100 demonstrators at Columbia University.

There have been nearly 550 protest-related arrests in the past week at major US universities, according to a tally by news agency Reuters.

The students want universities to cut ties with companies helping Israel’s war in Gaza and, in some cases, with Israel itself.

Some universities have called in police to end the demonstrations, resulting in clashes and arrests, while others appear to be biding their time as the academic semester enters its final days.

The University of Southern California cancelled its main graduation ceremony, set for 10 May, after the arrests of 93 people at the Los Angeles campus on Wednesday.

At Boston’s Emerson College, 108 people were arrested overnight with video showing students linking arms to resist officers, who then moved forcefully through the crowd, throwing some students to the ground.

A coalition of University of Michigan students camp at an encampment in the Diag to pressure the university to divest its endowment from companies that support Israel of could profit from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas on the University of Michigan college campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S., April 25, 2024. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
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University of Michigan. Pic: Reuters

Students and others demonstrate at a protest encampment at University Yard in support of Palestinians in Gaza, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at George Washington University in Washington, U.S., April 25, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis
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George Washington University. Pic: Reuters

Student protester Ocean Muir said: “There were just more cops on all sides.

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“It felt like we were being slowly pushed in and crushed.”

She said police lifted her by her arms and legs to carry her away and she was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

At Emory University’s Atlanta campus, 28 people were detained and the local branch of activist group Jewish Voice For Peace said police used tear gas and tasers on protesters.

Police there admitted using “chemical irritants” but denied using rubber bullets.

Cheryl Elliott, Emory’s vice president for public safety, said the aim was to clear the area of a “disruptive encampment while holding individuals accountable to the law” but human rights groups questioned the “apparent use of excessive force” against free speech.

Charges were dropped, meanwhile, against 46 of the 60 people detained by police at the University of Texas.

A drone view shows an encampment at Harvard University where students protest in support of Palestinians, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., April 25, 2024. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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Harvard University. Pic: Reuters

Police arrest a pro-Palestinian protester at USC campus in Los Angeles, California.
Pic: Reuters
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Police arrest a pro-Palestinian protester at USC campus in Los Angeles, California.
Pic: Reuters

Police arrest a pro-Palestinian protester at USC campus in Los Angeles, California.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Police arrest a pro-Palestinian protester at USC campus in Los Angeles, California.
Pic: Reuters

At Indiana University Bloomington, police with shields and batons shoved into a line of protesters, arresting 33 people.

At City College of New York, police officers retreated from protests, to cheers from the hundreds of students gathered on the lawn on the Harlem campus.

At California State Polytechnic University in Humboldt, students have been barricaded in a campus building since Monday, with staff trying to negotiate.

At University of Connecticut one protester was arrested and tents torn down, while protests continued at Stanford University and the New Jersey campus of Princeton University.

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Harvard University is among those that have not taken action against protesters who have set up tents.

At New York’s Columbia University, where the protest movement began, university officials remain locked in a stalemate with students.

Police cleared tents and arrested more than 100 people last week but students put the tents up again in an area where graduation ceremonies will be held in a few weeks.

The administration has given protesters until Friday to leave.

There have been accusations that some pro-Palestinian protesters have harassed or abused Jewish students but protesters blame outsiders trying to infiltrate and malign their movement.

Protest leaders admit there has been abuse directed at Jewish students but insist the protests are not antisemitic.

Some of the universities have seen counter-protests from Israel supporters.

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