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The Latest | Arrests top 2,000 as protests against Israel-Hamas war roil college campuses

May 2, 2024, 5:37 AM | Updated: 5:00 pm

The number of people arrested in connection with protests on college campuses against the Israel-Hamas war has now topped 2,000. The Associated Press has tallied arrests at 35 schools since a tent encampment began at Columbia University on April 17.

Student protests have popped up at many college and university campuses over the last two weeks. Some have led to agreements with administrators to consider the protesters demands. But more frequently they have led to arrests after demonstrators refused to disperse or vandalized campus property. More than 200 of the arrests were at the University of California, Los Angeles, where police finally cleared a large encampment early Thursday.

Currently:

— President Biden says ‘order must prevail’ to keep campus protests peaceful

— At least 2,000 arrested in campus protests around U.S., AP tally shows

— Eying campus protests, House passes bill to define criticism of Israel as antisemitic

— Timeline: How Columbia University’s protest launched campus demonstrations around the U.S.

Here’s the latest:

OFFICER FIRED GUN WHILE CLEARING PROTESTERS AT COLUMBIA, PROSECUTORS SAY

A police officer who was involved in clearing protesters from a Columbia University administration building earlier this week fired his gun inside the hall, a spokesperson for District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office confirmed Thursday.

No one was injured, according to spokesperson Doug Cohen, who said there were other officers but no students in the immediate vicinity. He said Bragg’s office is reviewing the incident. He did not provide additional details.

The New York Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The gunfire came as police officers stormed Hamilton Hall late Tuesday. Pro-Palestinian protesters had been barricaded inside for more than 20 hours. Police had said protesters inside presented no substantial resistance.

UNIVERSITIES REACH AGREEMENTS WITH PROTESTERS

The University of Minnesota officials announced an agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters on Thursday to end their encampment on the Minneapolis campus. In exchange, representatives of the coalition of student organizations involved will get to address the university’s Board of Regents at their meeting May 10 to discuss their demands that the university divest its investments in Israel.

“While there is more work to do, and conversations are still planned with other student groups affected by the painful situation in Palestine, I am heartened by today’s progress,” Interim university President Jeff Ettinger wrote.

Similar agreements have been made at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago, Rutgers University in New Jersey and Brown University in Rhode Island — apparently the first U.S. college to agree to such a demand.

PROTESTS SPROUT UP ON CAMPUSES ACROSS THE WORLD

A number of pro-Palestinian protests have popped up from France to South Africa to Mexico.

On Thursday, over tents popped up on the lawn of National Autonomous University of Mexico, the country’s most prestigious university.

The camp of about 50 students and activists was draped in Palestinian flags. Protesters organizing food and other logistics said they planned to camp out at least a week in solidarity with protests breaking out across the U.S.

“The student movement in the United States has given us a lot of hope,” said Luna Martínez, a human rights lawyer who studied at the university.

ARREST TALLY INCLUDES COLLEGE PROFESSORS

The arrests tallied since the protests began include professors from Dartmouth and an Illinois university.

Dartmouth history professor Annelise Orleck could be seen in a video posted to the social platform X approaching police and being pulled away from a crowd and taken into custody Wednesday night.

A Dartmouth spokesperson confirmed the video and said the school had no intention of seeking Orleck’s exclusion from campus and is “taking every reasonable step to ensure she can continue teaching classes.”

History professor Steve Tamara from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville said he suffered nine broken ribs and a broken hand Saturday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Washington University in St. Louis.

Bystander video shows Tamari appearing to be moving in to take video or pictures of protesters being detained when multiple officers roughly take him down. The video shows Tamari handcuffed with his arms behind him as officers drag his limp body toward a van, then drop him on the ground, face down.

Campus police referred questions to the university’s communications department, which did not respond to a request for comment.

NEW MEXICO PROTESTS MOVE FROM CAMPUS TO AIR FORCE BASE

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, about two dozen protesters sat in the middle of a roadway blocking access to one of the main gates at Kirtland Air Force Base on Thursday, waving flags and vowing to “shut everything down” over U.S. military support for Israel in the war in Gaza.

Authorities did not make any arrests as several protesters chained themselves to one another with some anchored to buckets filled with concrete as they lined the street, blocking access to one of the base’s main gates. Albuquerque police cordoned off streets in the area, isolating the protesters.

Base spokesperson Rob Smith said Kirtland supports citizens’ rights to peacefully assemble and protest and that base security would monitor the situation throughout the day. Meanwhile, the gate would remain closed indefinitely and people who work on the base were advised to use other routes.

Sixteen people — including five students — were arrested days earlier at the University of New Mexico just a few miles away after they occupied the campus’ student union building and caused damage inside.

FORDHAM PRESIDENT SAYS STUDENTS CAN MAKE THEIR CASE ON DIVESTMENT

Fordham University’s president has explained why they had New York police arrest 15 anti-war protesters on Wednesday.

Tania Tetlow said in a message to the Fordham community that most of the people who pushed inside a building and set up tents agreed to leave after being threatened with sanctions. Those who didn’t were arrested for misdemeanor trespassing.

Previous protests had been peaceful, mostly teach-ins and prayer vigils, she said, and Fordham remains committed to allowing student leaders to present their case about divestment and transparency to the trustees.

The decision to make arrests “was not about parsing the difference between protected political speech and threats, nor was it about the Middle East. This was only about the physical protection of the campus,” she said. “It comes down to this: Fordham students have a right to feel safe and to finish their exams. Period.”

STUDENTS WANT U OF VERMONT TO CANCEL UN AMBASSADOR’S COMMENCEMENT SPEECH

Student protesters at the University of Vermont called Thursday for the school to cancel a commencement speech by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The protesters, some of whom have been camping out in tents on campus since Sunday, are also demanding that UVM divest from weapons manufacturers and Israeli companies.

UVM spokesperson Adam White said university leaders have heard all the students’ concerns. He said the school plans to disclose investments in its endowment by week’s end, but not in response to the protesters.

OFFICERS CLEAR PORTLAND STATE LIBRARY, ARREST A DOZEN MOSTLY NON-STUDENTS

Police cleared a library at Portland State University in Oregon that pro-Palestinian demonstrators had occupied since Monday. Officers said they made a dozen arrests, four of them students.

They found extensive graffiti on the walls inside the library as well as furniture stacked in barricades and caches of tools and paint balloons. Portland police say at least two of the arrests were made outside the library, where a crowd gathered. Protesters banged pots and pans and briefly blocked the entrance to a major freeway.

Barricades made of soccer goal posts, overturned tables, chairs and other items continued to obstruct the library entrance, and walls inside were spray-painted with graffiti.

CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS WANT UNIVERSITY LEADERS FIRED FOR ALLOWING PROTESTS TO ESCALATE

California Republican leaders blasted university administrations, saying they failed to protect Jewish students and should have prevented campus protests against the Israel-Hamas war from escalating into “lawlessness and violence.”

They now call for the firing of leaders at universities such as UCLA and California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, where more than 30 were arrested early Tuesday. They’re also pushing for a proposal that would cut pay for university administrations.

“We’ve got a whole lot of people in these universities drawing six-figure salaries and they stood by and did nothing,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher told reporters Thursday. “There does need to be accountability.”

Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones said students found responsible for violence should be disqualified from receiving state-funded financial aid.

Any such GOP proposals would need the approval of Democratic lawmakers, who hold supermajorities in both chambers at the state Capitol.

ARRESTS CONTINUE AT U.S. CAMPUSES

In New York, Stony Brook University officials said 29 people were arrested early Thursday morning, including students, faculty members and others not affiliated with the school. School administrators said the protests began peacefully but escalated to include intimidation, harassment and an encampment.

The University of Texas said Thursday that 17 people were arrested on criminal trespass charges Wednesday after demonstrators refused to comply with orders to take down an encampment built on the main walkway of the Dallas campus.

At the University of Pennsylvania and at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, officers lined up to separate opposing camps of demonstrators waving Israeli and Palestinian flags.

And bulldozers were scooping up bags of trash and dismantled tents at UCLA, where crowds swelled to more than 1,000 at a pro-Palestinian encampment before police finally cleared the area early Thursday.

FLORIDA CHANCELLOR ORDERS PRESIDENTS TO PREVENT DISRUPTION OF COMMENCEMENTS

Florida’s state university chancellor has ordered campus presidents to “take any necessary steps” to prevent disruption of graduation ceremonies by protestors.

The order covers the University of Florida, Florida State University, Central Florida University, Florida A&M University and eight others. Ten arrests were made at a pro-Palestinian rally at the University of South Florida on Tuesday after police deployed tear gas.

“We must protect the integrity of our commencement ceremonies and ensure the safety of our students,” Chancellor Ray Rodrigues wrote in a memo to presidents, adding that no ceremonies should be canceled or substantively modified.

BIDEN SAYS VIOLENCE, VANDALISM AND HATE SPEECH HAVE NO PART IN PEACEFUL PROTESTS

President Joe Biden defended the right to peacefully protest on college campuses but said vandalism, violence, hate speech and other “chaos” has no part in a peaceful protest.

“Dissent is essential for democracy,” he said at the White House on Thursday. “But dissent must never lead to disorder.”

The Democratic president said the U.S. is neither an authoritarian nation that squashes dissent, nor a lawless country.

“We are a civil society and order must prevail,” Biden said. “We are a big, diverse, free-thinking and freedom-loving nation.”

A CHAOTIC SCENE AT UCLA AS OFFICERS BREAK UP CROWDS

Police arrested pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses across the country overnight, most notably at UCLA, where chaotic scenes played out early Thursday as officers in riot gear surged against a crowd of demonstrators and made arrests.

Police removed barricades and began dismantling demonstrators’ fortified encampment on campus after hundreds of protesters defied orders to leave, some forming human chains as police fired flash-bangs to break up the crowds. Police bound the hands of many protesters with zip ties behind their backs and escorted them onto buses to the county jails reception center near downtown Los Angeles.

Officers moved in after spending hours threatening arrests over loudspeakers if people did not disperse. A crowd of more than 1,000 had gathered in support, both inside a barricaded tent encampment and outside it. Protesters and police shoved and scuffled as officers encountered resistance. Video showed police pulling off helmets and goggles worn by some protesters as they were being detained.

PULITZER PRIZE BOARD COMMENDS STUDENT JOURNALISTS COVERING PROTESTS

Journalism’s highest awards are administered by Columbia University, where the Pulitzer Prize Board is praising the work of student journalists in covering campus protests around the country.

The board specifically recognized “the extraordinary real-time reporting” of student journalists at Columbia.

With other media blocked from entering the campus, these students became the eyes and ears for many as New York police arrested protesters.

“In the spirit of press freedom, these students worked to document a major national news event under difficult and dangerous circumstances at risk of arrest,” the board wrote.

TRUMP PRAISES POLICE FOR CLEARING CAMPUS PROTESTS

Former President Donald Trump commended police who cleared pro-Palestinian protesters from college campuses as he arrived in court Thursday morning for another day of his criminal hush money trial.

“It’s a shame. I’m so proud of the New York’s finest. They’re great,” Trump told reporters after police cleared demonstrators who had taken over an academic building at Columbia University. “They did a job in Columbia and likewise in Los Angeles they did a really good job at UCLA.”

Trump, in his comments, blamed the protests on “the radical left,” which he has railed against for years.

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The Latest | Arrests top 2,000 as protests against Israel-Hamas war roil college campuses