Shropshire Star

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University settle in for 10th day

Officials at Columbia and some other schools have been negotiating with student protesters who have rebuffed police and doubled down.

Last updated
Israel Palestinians Campus Protests

The students at an encampment at Columbia University who inspired a wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country dug in for their 10th day on Friday.

It comes as administrators and police at college campuses from California to Connecticut wrestle with how to address protests that have seen scuffles with police and hundreds of arrests.

Officials at Columbia and some other schools have been negotiating with student protesters who have rebuffed police and doubled down.

Other schools have quickly turned to law enforcement to douse demonstrations before they can take hold.

After a tent encampment popped up on Thursday at Indiana University Bloomington, police with shields and batons shoved into protesters and arrested 33.

Hours later at the University of Connecticut, police tore down tents and arrested one person.

Israel Palestinians Campus Protests
George Washington University students rally on campus during a pro-Palestinian protest over the Israel-Hamas war (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

The clock is ticking as May commencement ceremonies near, putting added pressure on schools to clear demonstrations.

At Columbia, protesters defiantly erected a tent encampment where many are set to graduate in front of families in just a few weeks.

Columbia officials said that negotiations were showing progress as they neared the school’s deadline of early on Friday to reach an agreement on dismantling the encampment.

Nevertheless, two police buses were parked nearby and there was a noticeable presence of private security and police at entrances to the campus.

“We have our demands; they have theirs,” said Ben Chang, a spokesperson for Columbia University, adding that if the talks fail the university will have to consider other options.

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, has been negotiating with students who have been barricaded inside a campus building since Monday, rebuffing an attempt by the police to clear them out.

Faculty members met with protesters on Thursday to try to negotiate a solution as the campus remains shut down at least through the weekend.

The protesters setting up encampments at universities across the country are demanding schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies they say are enabling the conflict.

Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus, which has partly prompted the calls for police intervention.

A dean at Cal Poly Humboldt, Jeff Crane, suggested during the meeting with protesters that the university form a committee that would include students to do a deep dive into the school’s investments.

Israel Palestinians Campus Protests
The US Education Department has launched civil rights investigations into dozens of universities and schools in response to complaints of antisemitism or Islamophobia (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Mr Crane also suggested faculty and students continue meeting every 24 hours to keep an open line of communication.

The sides have yet to announce an agreement.

On the other end of the state, the University of Southern California announced the cancellation of the school’s May 10 graduation ceremony.

The announcement was made a day after more than 90 protesters were arrested on campus.

The university said it will still host dozens of commencement events, including all the traditional individual school commencement ceremonies.

Tensions were already high after USC cancelled a planned commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns.

At the City College of New York on Thursday, hundreds of students who were gathered on the lawn beneath the Harlem campus’ famed gothic buildings erupted in cheers after a small contingent of police officers retreated from the scene.

In one corner of the quad, a “security training” was held among students.

The Los Angeles Police Department said 93 people were arrested on Wednesday night during a campus protest for allegedly trespassing.

One person was arrested on allegations of assault with a deadly weapon.

At Emerson College in Boston, 108 people were arrested at an alleyway encampment by early on Thursday.

Video shows police first warning students in an alleyway to leave. Students link arms to resist officers, who move forcefully through the crowd and throw some protesters to the ground.

Some students were charged on Thursday with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Emerson College leaders had warned students that the alley was a public right-of-way and city authorities had threatened to take action if the protesters did not leave.

Emerson cancelled classes on Thursday, and Boston police said four officers suffered injuries that were not life-threatening during the confrontation.

The University of Texas at Austin campus was much calmer on Thursday after 57 people were jailed and charged with criminal trespass a day earlier.

University officials pulled back barricades and allowed demonstrators onto the main square beneath the school’s clock tower.

Israel Palestinians Campus Protests
A boy waves a Palestinian flag at an encampment on the University of California, Los Angeles campus (Jae C Hong/AP)

Thursday’s gathering of students and some faculty protested both the war and Wednesday’s arrests, when state troopers in riot gear and on horseback bulldozed into protesters, forcing hundreds of students off the school’s main lawn.

At Emory University in Atlanta, local and state police swept in to dismantle a camp. Some officers carried semiautomatic weapons, and video shows officers using a stun gun on one protester they had pinned to the ground.

The university said late on Thursday in a statement that objects were thrown at officers and they deployed “chemical irritants” as a crowd control measure.

Jail records showed 22 people arrested by Emory police were charged with disorderly conduct.

Emory said it had been notified that 28 people were arrested, including 20 members of the university community, and some had been released as of night-time.

US secretary of education Miguel Cardona said the ability to embrace student voices and different perspectives was a hallmark of the nation’s growth but warned authorities would not tolerate hate, discrimination or threats of violence.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began, the US Education Department has launched civil rights investigations into dozens of universities and schools in response to complaints of antisemitism or Islamophobia.

Among those under investigation are many colleges facing protests, including Harvard and Columbia.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.