Police with batons approach Israel-Hamas war protesters at UC Santa Cruz

Police with batons have approached protesters at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Via AP news wire
Friday 31 May 2024 12:32 BST

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Louise Thomas

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Police approached arm-in-arm protesters early Friday at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a day after arrests at a pro-Palestinian encampment at a Detroit campus and a student walkout during commencement at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Video showed a line of police with batons a few feet from protesters at the California campus. It wasn't immediately clear if there were any arrests or injuries. The university was holding classes remotely on Friday.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have blocked the main entrance to campus this week.

“We call on these protesters to immediately reopen full access to the campus and return to protesting in a manner consistent with both our community values and our student code of conduct. Denying instructional access is not free speech,” university leaders said in a letter to the community Thursday.

Graduate student workers continued a strike that began last week over the university system’s treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters.

Protest camps sprang up across the U.S. and in Europe this spring as students demanded their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that they say support its war in Gaza. Organizers seek to amplify calls to end Israel’s war with Hamas, which they describe as a genocide against the Palestinians.

On Thursday, police in riot gear removed fencing and broke down tents erected last week on green space near the undergraduate library at Wayne State University in Detroit. At least 12 people were arrested.

President Kimberly Andrews Espy cited health and safety concerns and disruptions to campus operations. Staff were encouraged to work remotely this week, and in-person summer classes were suspended.

The camp, she said, “created an environment of exclusion — one in which some members of our campus community felt unwelcome and unable to fully participate in campus life.”

Another outdoor commencement ceremony was scheduled Friday at MIT in Cambridge, near Boston, a day after some graduates walked out of one, disrupting it for 10 to 15 minutes. They wore keffiyehs, the checkered scarves that represent Palestinian solidarity, over their caps and gowns, chanted “free, free Palestine,” and held signs that said, "All eyes on Rafah.”

“There is going to be no business as usual as long as MIT holds research projects with the Israeli Ministry of Defense,” said David Berkinsky, 27, who earned a doctorate degree in chemistry and walked out. “There are no graduates in Gaza. There are no universities left in Gaza left because Israeli has bombed every single one.”

Eesha Banerjee, a 20-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama, who received her bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering and physics and walked out, said she wants to pressure MIT to become a better place.

“While I’m still here, I want to use every chance I can to push this institute to be better,” she said. “I want MIT to be the institution that it can be, and it can’t be that until it drops its ties, drops its complicity.”

Some people at the event swore at the protesters and yelled, “Good riddance to Hamas terror fans.” A pro-Palestinian encampment at MIT was cleared in early May.

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