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Pro-Palestinian protests continue across US college campuses


Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate outside the main gate at Columbia University, in New York, early April 26, 2024.
Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate outside the main gate at Columbia University, in New York, early April 26, 2024.

Police clashed late Thursday with pro-Palestinian protesters at Ohio State University and Emery University in Atlanta as college demonstrations continue across the country against U.S. support for Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Demonstrations have been held on campuses from Boston and Atlanta in the east to Texas and Los Angeles in the west, with violent clashes between campus and local law enforcement and protesters growing increasingly common.

At Emory University Thursday, Atlanta media report 28 people were arrested after protesters refused to disperse and there were reports of bottles being thrown. There were also reports of police using tasers and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. Protesters were reported back on campus Friday.

At Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, reports say at least 12 people were arrested as police broke up a protest that lasted several hours on the college campus.

Many of the college demonstrators are demanding the school cut ties with Israeli academic institutions and disinvest school funds from Israel-linked entities. On several campuses, tent encampments have been constructed where protesters have camped out for days and weeks in some cases.

At New York’s Columbia University — what has been called the epicenter of the protest movement — the school’s President Minouche Shafik backed off a midnight Thursday deadline for students to abandon an encampment they have established on campus. She said in a statement, negotiations with the students were continuing.

Shafik is facing a Columbia faculty senate vote Friday on a resolution expressing displeasure with a series of her decisions, including her summoning of the New York Police Department last week to arrest students on campus. In her statement, she denied she had done this.

Officials at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles this week said they were canceling the school’s main commencement ceremony next month, citing "new safety measures," after nearly 100 people were arrested on the campus. That move follows its decision a week earlier to cancel the valedictorian speech from a Muslim student who said she was being silenced by anti-Palestinian hatred for her views on human rights.

Likewise, Jewish students at Columbia and elsewhere have complained many of the pro-Palestinian protests have turned antisemitic, with threats of violence against Jewish students.

U.S. officials have weighed in on the nationwide protests. On Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson appeared on the Columbia University campus and called for President Shafik to resign. He said the cherished traditions of the school “are being overtaken right now by radical and extreme ideologies.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked about the protests during a news conference in Beijing Friday. Blinken called the demonstrations “a hallmark of our democracy,” and said they show the strength of the country. But he noted that protesters have largely failed to mention Hamas’ role in the Gaza crisis.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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