A look at the protests of the war in Gaza that have emerged at US colleges

Apr 24, 2024, 12:56 PM | Updated: Apr 30, 2024, 5:30 pm

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up at many college campuses after being inspired by demonstrators at Columbia University.

The students are calling for universities to separate themselves from companies advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza and in some cases from Israel itself. Police have arrested hundreds nationwide since detainments at Columbia on April 18.

Officials are trying to resolve the protests as the academic year winds down, but students have dug in at several high-profile universities.

A look at protests on campuses:


Police first tried to clear the encampment of Pro-Palestinian student protesters on April 18, when they arrested more than 100. But the move motivated Columbia protesters to regroup.

The university said Monday that it was beginning to suspend student protesters who defied an ultimatum to leave the encampment by Monday afternoon.

Early Tuesday, dozens of protesters took over an academic building, locking arms and carrying furniture and metal barricades to the building. Columbia responded by restricting access to campus. The occupation has drawn enthusiasm from protesters, and attention from the New York Police Department’s drone unit.

Columbia said Tuesday that students occupying the building could face expulsion, those who did not abide by the deadline terms are being suspended and seniors will be ineligible to graduate on May 15.

Among those suspended Tuesday was graduate student Mahmoud Khalil, who served as the lead negotiator representing student protesters before talks with the administration broke down over the weekend. Khalil said he had abided by the university’s demand to vacate the lawn by the Monday afternoon deadline. A spokesperson for Columbia declined to comment on the situation with Khalil.


A weeklong occupation of the administration building at the California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, ended about 3 a.m. Tuesday, when dozens of police officers wearing helmets and wielding batons cleared protesters from campus. The university said 25 people were arrested and taken to a local jail. A group of demonstrators showed up at the jail later Tuesday, waving Palestinian flags as they rallied for their release.

The university on the state’s rural north coast earlier announced a “hard closure,” meaning that people were not permitted to enter or be on the 8,000-student campus without authorization.

Arrest footage posted on the Lost Coast Outpost, a digital publication, showed about 100 police officers in riot gear arriving in vans and buses and then marching in with shields at the ready.

Some officers approached a group of protesters who were chanting “Viva, viva Palestina!” and sitting in a circle outside the administration building. Police picked them up one by one, tied their hands behind their back with zip ties and led them off campus.

Damage to the school since protests started on April 22 is estimated to be over $1 million, California state Senate President Pro Tempore Mike McGuire, a Democrat whose district includes the campus, said Tuesday.

“Let’s be clear – it’s going to take time to heal, McGuire said. “Cal Poly Humboldt must be a campus where all faiths and students of all backgrounds feel safe, respected, and included. This has not been the case for Humboldt’s Jewish students and others over the past week.”


Yale authorities cleared a protesters’ encampment Tuesday morning after students heeded final warnings to leave, university officials said. Yale and New Haven, Connecticut, police officers were at the site, but no arrests were reported. Yale officials said they warned that students could be arrested and face discipline, including suspension, if they didn’t clear the grassy quad area.

Demonstrators moved their gathering to a public sidewalk area. It was the second encampment removed since last week. On April 22, police arrested nearly 50 people, including 44 students, and took down dozens of tents.


Police moved in on a campus encampment at the Storrs, Connecticut, school Tuesday morning and arrested 25 protesters after giving them several warnings to leave, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.

Twenty-four of those arrested were students; one was a former student. They were charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after university officials said they repeatedly ignored directives by campus police to remove tents and disperse from an encampment first set up on April 24.

Tuesday’s arrests came a day after protest leaders met with university officials.


In a statement, protesters said the Cambridge, Massachusetts, school “has sought to shut off all outside access and visibility to the encampment.”

“Meanwhile, the Harvard administration has initiated disciplinary action against nearly forty students and student workers,” the statement said.

Last week, Harvard limited access to its famous Harvard Yard to those with school identification after a camp was set up.


The university’s president, Chris Eisgruber, posted a statement on Instagram saying 13 protesters — 12 affiliated with the university — were arrested Monday night after briefly occupying Clio Hall, the campus graduate school building.

“All those arrested received summonses for trespassing and have been barred from campus,” Eisgruber said in the statement. “The students will also face University discipline, which may extend to suspension or expulsion.”


Protesters at Brown University in Rhode Island agreed to dismantle their pro-Palestinian encampment Tuesday after school officials said five students will be invited to meet with five members of the Corporation of Brown University in May to present their arguments to divest Brown’s endowment from companies contributing to and profiting from the war in Gaza.

In addition, Brown President Christina Paxson will ask an advisory committee to make a recommendation on divestment by Sept. 30, which will be brought before the school’s governing corporation for a vote in October.


The school in Evanston, Illinois, said Monday that it had reached an agreement with students and faculty who represent the majority of protesters on its campus since Thursday.

The university said in a statement that it agrees to answer questions within 30 days about specific holdings and investments. It also said it would reconvene an advisory committee to ensure “any vendor who profits from the Israeli occupation” will not provide services on campus. The statement said the university plans to further invest in supporting Muslim and Jewish life on campus.

Northwestern says it will permit peaceful demonstrations that comply with university policies through June 1, which is the end of spring quarter classes.


In a confrontation between police and protesters at the Austin school late Monday, 79 people involved were jailed, according to the Travis County sheriff’s department. Most were charged with criminal trespass.

About 150 protesters sat on the ground as state troopers and police encircled them, with hundreds of others shouting when officers dragged someone away. After police cleared the original group of demonstrators, hundreds of students and protesters ran to block officers from leaving campus. Protesters pushed in on officers, creating a mass of shoving bodies before police used pepper spray and set off flash-bang devices to clear a path for a van to take those arrested off campus.


Encampment organizers met with university President Carol Folt for about 90 minutes Monday. Folt declined to discuss details of what was discussed but said the purpose of the meeting was to allow her to hear the concerns of protesters. Another meeting was scheduled for Tuesday.

The university has canceled its main graduation ceremony, set for May 10. It already canceled a commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns.


Security was tightened Tuesday at the campus a day after officials said there were “physical altercations” between dueling factions of protesters.

Mary Osako, vice chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications, said in a Tuesday statement that anyone involved in blocking classroom access could face expulsion or suspension.


Before dawn Monday, demonstrators at the school in Washington, D.C., tore down metal barricades confining them to University Yard and set up more than a dozen tents in the middle of a street.

Later in the day, there were no signs of conflict. The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that it will continue monitoring the situation and that the protest remained peaceful.

The university said it will move law school finals to a different building because of noise from the protests.


A protest at the school in Blacksburg resulted in 82 arrests, including 53 students, a university spokesperson said Monday.

Protesters began occupying the lawn of the graduate life center Friday. After protesters took further steps to occupy the lawn and outdoor spaces Sunday, the university advised those gathered to disperse. Those who failed to comply were warned they would be charged with trespassing, the university said.


Tents were erected Tuesday on the school’s Chicago-area campus. The university said in a letter that tents and other structures without permits violate school policies. The school also warned that actions that interfere with operations, damage property or are disruptive will lead to disciplinary measures, including suspension, expulsion and criminal sanctions.


Dozens of students, faculty and staff camped out overnight at the Cleveland school hours after a similar encampment had been broken up and more than 20 people were detained but later released.

School officials initially had said protests would be limited to daylight hours but announced Monday night that students and others affiliated with the school would be allowed to stay at the makeshift encampment on the school’s public green.

Officials were checking the participants’ identification before they were given wristbands signifying they could remain at the site. Roughly 100 people camped out overnight without incident, officials said.


About 30 people were detained by campus police Tuesday morning after the university said encampment protesters refused to leave. At 5:30 a.m., a university statement said protesters needed to remove tents and other items and leave the area by 6 a.m. or risk arrest.

Clearing out the encampment took approximately 45 minutes, according to the university. The university had not responded to a query about whether protesters were arrested and charged.

Tensions escalated Tuesday afternoon when protesters removed the American flag from a flagpole on campus central grounds and replaced it with a Palestinian flag, according to news outlets on the scene. Police then rehung the American flag as protesters and counter-protesters circled the area.

The university issued an alert that classes were canceled for the rest of Tuesday, the last day of scheduled classes.


Nine people, including six students, were arrested at the Gainesville university — where about 50 people began protesting last week — by campus police and state troopers Monday.

Steve Orlando, the school’s associate vice president of communications, said many of the protesters were “outside agitators” and they had been warned for many days that prohibited activities would result in a trespassing order, barring them from campus for three years. Individuals who didn’t comply were arrested after campus police gave them multiple warnings, he said.

Last week, university officials warned that students could face suspension and employees could be fired if they violated a series of rules.


The Ann Arbor school told students, staff and faculty in a letter Friday that its upcoming commencement ceremonies likely will be the site of “various student expressions, including possible demonstrations.” Last week, a demonstration at the center of the campus had grown to nearly 40 tents.

The letter noted that school policies “make clear that interfering with speakers and events is not protected speech and is a violation of university policy.”


At the Richmond, Virginia, campus, demonstrators protesting the Israel-Hamas war clashed with police Monday night after officers tried to remove a makeshift encampment.

Protesters put up tents and built a barricade with shipping pallets. Police, some wearing riot gear, charged the line of demonstrators to clear the crowd, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Some protesters were seen hurling water bottles and other objects at police.

VCU said in a statement Tuesday that 13 people, including six VCU students, were charged with unlawful assembly and trespassing. VCU said officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.


A small group of students at the downtown Portland, Oregon, school broke into its library late Monday. Students have been protesting in a park on campus and on the library steps since Thursday.

Campus was closed Tuesday as a result of the library occupation. District Attorney Mike Schmidt said the protesters’ actions had crossed into criminal behavior and those arrested would be prosecuted.


Several dozen protesters camped in about a dozen small tents on a grassy area near an administration building Monday at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Tulane police “moved in immediately to attempt to stop the encampment,” the administration said in a Tuesday afternoon news release. It added that university officials are “now focused on containing and ending the protest” at the direction of New Orleans police and Louisiana state police.

The university said six people were arrested and five students suspended after a Monday confrontation with police. The Students for a Democratic Society organization also was suspended.

About 2 p.m. Tuesday, university officials wheeled a portable electronic sign onto the lawn. “PRIVATE PROPERTY—NO TRESPASSING,” it read. “Everyone must leave this area immediately.”

The university said some classes would be held remotely.


Police arrested protesters Monday who tried to set up an encampment at the university northeast of Atlanta. A spokesperson wouldn’t say how many people were arrested on the final day of classes before spring exams.

Athens-Clarke County jail records showed that University of Georgia police had booked 12 people into the jail by midafternoon on criminal trespassing charges. State troopers aided university police.


Protesters erected an encampment at the Salt Lake City school Monday. About two dozen tents were set up on the lawn outside the university president’s office, and roughly 200 students held protest signs and Palestinian flags. Later Monday, dozens of officers in riot gear sought to break up the encampment.

Police dragged students off by their hands and feet, snapping the poles holding up tents and zip-tying those who refused to disperse. Seventeen people were arrested. The university says it’s against code to camp overnight on school property and the students were given several warnings to disperse before police were called in.


Student protest groups posted on social media Tuesday that their encampment of dozens of tents and hundreds of people was still standing, even after police ordered them to disperse Monday night. More than 10 university buildings, including a student union and large library, near the encampment remained closed in anticipation of continued protests.


In Albuquerque, police in tactical gear tore down tents and clashed briefly with protesters who occupied the University of New Mexico’s student union building for about seven hours Monday night into Tuesday morning.

University officials said 16 people were arrested, including five students and 11 people not affiliated with the school. They said the protesters vandalized the student union building and sprayed-painted graffiti across campus. They didn’t immediately provide a damage estimate.

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A look at the protests of the war in Gaza that have emerged at US colleges