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College protests live: Dozens of pro-Palestinian activists arrested as NYPD under fire for crackdown

Police officers in riot gear seen moving on an encampment on University of Virginia lawn

President Joe Biden insists ‘order must prevail’ as police shut down college Gaza protests

Police have arrested dozens of pro-Palestinian students as protests against Israel’s war in Gaza continued across universities over the weekend.

At least 25 protesters were arrested as police cleared an encampment at the University of Virginia, the university said in a statement.

Dozens of people were arrested for criminal trespass outside the Art Institute of Chicago at a demonstration after the institute called in police to remove protesters.

Meanwhile, students carried flags and banners during the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony after the NYPD revealed on Friday morning that a police officer with the department’s Emergency Service Unit “unintentionally” fired his gun while trying to access a locked office at Columbia University.

The bullet hit a wall inside the office. No one was injured.

On Thursday morning, hundreds of police officers dismantled a pro-Palestinian protest camp at the University of California at Los Angeles and arrested more than 130 demonstrators.

Live TV footage showed protesters under arrest, kneeling on the ground, their hands bound behind their backs with zip ties. Loud explosions were heard during the clash from flash-bang charges, or stun grenades, fired by police.

President Joe Biden also denounced protests that turned violent on college campuses on Thursday.


WATCH: Jewish Dartmouth professor says police threw her to the ground during Gaza protests and that New Hampshire governor is spreading misinformation

Annelise Orleck, a professor of history at Dartmouth University, said she was thrown to the ground by police during on Thursday night as law enforcement was cracking down on a Gaza protest at the campus.

Ms Orleck, who is Jewish, said New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu is spreading misinformation by characterising the protests as antisemitic.

“My message is stop weaponizing antisemitism,” she told WMUR.

Mr Sununu called the protests “100 per cent” antisemitic during a press briefing on Wednesday, WMUR reports.

“One hundred percent, this is pure antisemitism,” Mr Sununu said. “This is pure hatred. It is. And again, they have a right to express that. I’m disgusted by it, frankly.”

Graig Graziosi5 May 2024 01:00

Joe Biden said he planned to take executive action aimed at pushing back against a global crackdown on press freedom.

“In the coming weeks, I will be taking executive action in response to the global crackdown on press freedom, as exemplified by the wrongful detention of journalists around the world,” he said. “I will declare this crackdown on press freedom a grave threat to national security and will authorize measures, including sanctions and visa bans, against those who take abusive actions to silence the press.”

Reporters Without Borders maintains a global press freedom index, and said there was a troubling downward trend for journalistic liberty.

“RSF sees a worrying decline in support and respect for media autonomy and an increase in pressure from the state or other political actors,” Anne Bocandé, RSF editorial director, told The Guardian. “States and other political forces are playing a decreasing role in protecting press freedom. This disempowerment sometimes goes hand in hand with more hostile actions that undermine the role of journalists, or even instrumentalise the media through campaigns of harassment or disinformation.”

Here are just a few examples of ongoing press freedom issues:

  • In March 2023, Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal was arrested in Russia and charged with spying, an allegation both he and the US government strongly reject.
  • Palestinian journalists who survived the opening days of Israel’s military actions in Gaza said they they face harassment and intimidation from Israel while doing their jobs, according to NBC News.
  • In the US, Donald Trump, the leader of one of the Republican Party, has long called the press the “fake news,” the “enemy of the people,” “dishonest,” and “corrupt.
  • Journalists in Turkey face arbitrary lawsuits, harassment, targeted financial pressure on critical journalists, and online censorship, the RSF reports.
Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 23:00

Pro-Palestinian students protest Michigan graduation ceremony

Students protested the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, the latest manifestation of the wave of demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war taking place across the country.

Salma Hamamy, center, holds a Flag of Palestine during a Pro-Palestinian protest during the University of Michigan's spring commencement ceremony (Getty Images)

The group comprised about 75 people, and featured students wearing grad caps and kaffiyehs.

One demonstrator carried a banner reading, “No universities left in Gaza,” a refence to Israel’s destruction of every university in the Gaza Strip in the course of the ongoing conflict. Others held Palestinian flags.

Colleen Mastony, a university spokesperson, told The Associated Press that public safety personnel escorted the activists to the back of the stadium where the ceremony was taking place.

“Peaceful protests like this have taken place at U-M commencement ceremonies for decades,” she added.

No arrests took place, and the demonstration didn’t seriously delay the multi-hour ceremony.

Josh Marcus4 May 2024 21:51

ICYMI: UN human rights chief ‘troubled’ by treatment of Gaza protesters at US universities

UN human rights chief ‘troubled’ by treatment of Gaza protesters at US universities

The UN human rights office said on Tuesday (30 April) it was “troubled” by heavy-handed actions taken by US security forces during attempts to break up Gaza protests on college campuses. Demonstrations at universities across the country showed no sign of slowing as they spread coast-to-coast over the weekend and police crackdowns and arrests continued into another week. Students have vowed to stay in tent encampments until their demands are met. Their demands range from a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas to calls for universities to stop investing in Israeli enterprises involved with the country’s military. Marta Hurtado, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the UN is “troubled by a series of heavy-handed steps taken to disperse and dismantle protests”.

Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 21:00

A retired teacher saw inspiration in Columbia’s protests. Eric Adams called her an outside agitator

Before police officers poured into Columbia University on Tuesday night, arresting more than 100 people as they cleared an occupied school building and tent encampment, New York City Mayor Eric Adams received a piece of intelligence he said shifted his thinking about the campus demonstrations over the war in Gaza.

“Outside agitators” working to “radicalize our children” were leading students into more extreme tactics, the mayor claimed. And one of them, Adams said repeatedly in media appearances Wednesday morning, was a woman whose husband was “convicted for terrorism.”

But the woman referenced by the mayor wasn’t on Columbia’s campus this week, isn’t among the protesters who were arrested and has not been accused of any crime.

Read more:

A retired teacher saw inspiration in Columbia's protests. Eric Adams called her an outside agitator

Before and after police officers arrested more than 100 people at Columbia University who were protesting the war in Gaza, New York Mayor Eric Adams blamed “outside agitators” for leading the demonstrations

Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 19:00

VIDEO: NYPD tear down tents inside Fordham University to disperse Gaza protesters

NYPD tear down tents inside Fordham University to disperse Gaza protesters

NYPD officers tore down tents inside a Fordham University building on Wednesday, 1 May, as they cleared a Gaza protester encampment. Police escorted demonstrators away from the Lincoln Center campus. NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said "individuals who refused to disperse from the unlawful encampment... [were placed] under arrest." Fordham University requested NYPD assistance, she added. It came amid similar action staged at other universities across the US; police arrested more than 130 demonstrators early Thursday at UCLA. Pro-Palestine encampment protests have also spread to the UK.

Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 17:00

ICYMI: Human Rights Watch weighs in on response to protests

The Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for human rights, weighed in on the pro-Palestinian protests popping up across the country.

Louis Charbonneau, United Nations Director for the organisation, wrote that colleges must protect students’ right to protest.

“There have been troubling reports of antisemitic incidents in and around Columbia University’s campus,” Mr Charbonneau wrote. “Allegations of antisemitic acts and speech by individuals, as well as acts of Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination, should be investigated and addressed on the merits in a case-by-case basis, through fair and transparent processes.”

“As protests spread to campuses across the country, university administrations should be careful not to mislabel criticism of Israeli government policies or advocacy for Palestinian rights as inherently antisemitic or to misuse university authority to quash peaceful protest,” he continued. “Instead, universities should safeguard people’s rights to assembly and free expression.”

Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 14:00

ICYMI: Coalition of Columbia faculty call for vote of no confidence in administrators

The Columbia University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors is calling for a vote of no confidence in President Minouche Shafik and her fellow administrators.

In a statement, the chapter condemned her decision to call the New York Police Department on protesters who had occupied Hamilton Hall Tuesday night.

“This decision was made without consultation with the University Senate, in violation of established procedures, by recourse to so-called emergency powers,” the chapter said in a Thursday statement. “It also flew in the face of efforts by the AAUP and faculty trusted by the student protestors to de-escalate the situation on campus and to serve as observers in negotiations–efforts endorsed by the University Senate chair that continued into the afternoon before the assault.”

More than 100 people were arrested on Columbia’s campus Tuesday evening.

Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 13:00

WATCH: Biden insists 'order must prevail' as police shut down college Gaza protests

Biden insists 'order must prevail' as police shut down college Gaza protests
Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 11:00

Pulitzer Prize board praises student journalist efforts at Columbia

The Pulitzer Prize Board, housed under Columbia University, praised student journalists’ efforts to cover the protests even while facing “risk of arrest.”

“As we gather to consider the nation’s finest and most courageous journalism, the Pulitzer Prize Board would like to recognize the tireless efforts of student journalists across our nation’s college campuses, who are covering protests and unrest in the face of great personal and academic risk,” the board wrote on Thursday, four days ahead of announcing the 2024 prize winners.

“We would also like to acknowledge the extraordinary real-time reporting of student journalists at Columbia University, where the Pulitzer Prizes are housed, as the New York Police Department was called onto campus on Tuesday night,” they continued.

As The Independent’s Alex Woodward reported, student journalists worked round the clock to capture the historic demonstrations on college campuses across the country.

Read more:

Columbia student journalists broadcast NYPD college raid to the world from the inside

When outside press was banned, journalism students worked round the clock to capture historic demonstrations

Graig Graziosi4 May 2024 09:00

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