Contractor sprays paint in faces of Gaza college protesters while covering up a pro-Palestine mural

The university’s president has since apologised for the incident

Katie Hawkinson
Thursday 09 May 2024 17:17 BST
Pro-Palestine protesters rally outside of 2024 Met Gala event

Anti-war protesters at an Ohio university were sprayed with paint this week, as they tried to stop a pro-Palestinian mural from being erased on campus.

A video shows people spraying pro-Palestinian protesters at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday evening. The protesters were blocking an anti-war mural painted on a campus wall.

Student protester Ameer Alkayali, 18, said he plans to take legal action against the university after being sprayed.

A contractor hired by Case Western Reserve University paints over a pro-Palestinian protester on 7 May. The next day, anti-war protesters occupied an administrative building on campus
A contractor hired by Case Western Reserve University paints over a pro-Palestinian protester on 7 May. The next day, anti-war protesters occupied an administrative building on campus (

“I stood against the wall, and the painters asked ‘Should we continue?’ The cops showed general confusion and didn’t tell them to stop,” Mr Alkayali told local outlet “So, as seen in the video, they continue to just paint right over us.”

“They told us to not put our hands in front of the machine because it’s dangerous,” he continued. “And we put our hands up, and they still continued to paint on our hands and sprayed us with it.”

The university president, Eric Kaler, later apologised for the incident.

“I have reviewed video footage, which depicts students blocking the wall as a third-party contractor spray-painted directly onto protesters as he attempted to finish painting the wall, and I am disturbed by what occurred,” Mr Kaler said.

“Let me be clear: no students – or any individuals – should ever be treated this way, especially on a campus where our core values centre on providing a safe, welcoming environment,” he continued. “This is not who we are as an institution, and I am deeply sorry this ever occurred.”

Subsequently, on Wednesday evening, 200 protesters marched to Adelbert Hall, an administrative building on campus, the university said in a statement. Ten protesters then barricaded themselves inside.

Mr Kaler said protesters who have broken campus rules may be subject to legal action.

“None of this behaviour is acceptable, nor does it contribute to the safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for which Case Western Reserve is known,” he said.

These developments come more than a week after protesters at Columbia University occupied the school’s Hamilton Hall. The demonstrators renamed it Hind’s Hall, in honour of a six-year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli tanks in Gaza. The New York Police Department stormed the building and arrested more than 100 protesters on 30 April.

Protesters have been staging demonstrations against Israel’s war in Gaza on Case Western Reserve University’s campus since 29 April, when they set up an encampment on campus.

Hours after they began building the encampment, police detained more than 20 protesters, local outlet Spectrum News reports. A school spokesperson told the outlet students were breaking campus rules by bringing tents onto the lawn area.

“In accordance with Case Western Reserve policies, protestors must follow specific restrictions regarding the time, place and manner of such activism, including ensuring their actions do not unreasonably interfere with university operations (this includes setting up encampments on campus property and the use of disruptive sound),” Mr Kaler said after the arrests.

The Independent has contacted Case Western Reserve University for comment.

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