Colombia begins suspending anti-war protesters despite ultimatum

NEW YORK (AP) — Colleges around the U.S. appealed to pro-Palestinian student protesters to remove tent encampments with increasing urgency Monday as police arrested more demonstrators at the University of Texas and the University of Texas at Austin. Columbia University He said it has started suspending students who defied the ultimatum to disband the camp there.

Dozens of law enforcement officers, many in riot gear, confronted protesters who returned to the University of Texas at Austin on Monday. They quickly arrested six demonstrators and took the others into custody one by one. Officers used pepper spray after a group of protesters blocked the path of a police van carrying arrested protesters. The crowd retreated, but continued to prevent them from leaving the premises. Officers then used two flash bang explosives to clear a path, allowing the van to exit.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reposted a video on social media of troops arriving on the campus of 50,000 students. “No camping will be allowed,” Abbott said. Last week, hundreds of police moved in on protesters at the university, arresting 34 people.

At Columbia, student activists defied a 2 p.m. deadline by setting up about 120 tents on the school's Manhattan campus. Instead, hundreds of protesters marched around the Quad, clapping, chanting and weaving around piles of green carpet on the makeshift floor, meant for graduation ceremonies that begin next week.

A few counter-protesters waved Israeli flags, and one shouted, “Where are the anti-Hamas chants?” They had a sign saying.

The university did not call the police to disperse the demonstrators. But three hours after the deadline, Columbia began suspending students, school spokesman Ben Chang said. He did not specify how many students were involved. He also did not say how the suspensions would be administered or whether suspended students would be kicked off campus.

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While the university appreciates students' free speech rights, Chang said the camp is a “noisy distraction” that interferes with teaching and preparation for final exams. The protests also made some Jewish students very uncomfortable, he said.

Protest organizers said they were unaware of any suspensions as of Monday evening.

In a notice sent to the protesters earlier on Monday, they could finish the semester in good standing if they walked out by the deadline and signed a form to abide by university policies until June 2025. Otherwise, pending investigation, they will be suspended, the letter said.

Early protests in Colombia were similarly motivated Pro-Palestine protest camps Students and others in schools across America are grappling with the Israel-Hamas war and its mounting death toll. Many students request their universities Cut financial ties with Israel. The number of arrests in campuses across the country is approaching 1,000. Protests spread across Europe French police removed dozens of students from Sorbonne University after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the main courtyard.

College classes are wrapping up for the semester and campuses are gearing up for graduation ceremonies, giving schools extra incentive to clear campuses. The University of Southern California has canceled its major graduation ceremony.

But as clashes continued at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and others, students at some top universities dug in their heels.

Protesters at Yale set up a new encampment with dozens of tents on Sunday, nearly a week after police arrested nearly 50 people and removed a similar one nearby. A Yale official informed them that they would face disciplinary action, including suspension and possible arrest, if they persisted.

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Yale said in a statement Monday that while it supports peaceful protests and free speech, it will not tolerate violations of policy such as the encampment. School officials said the protests were being held near residential colleges where many students were studying for final exams and were seeking permission for groups to hold events and set up structures on campus.

In a rare move, Northwestern University said it had reached an agreement with students and faculty representing the majority of protesters at its campus near Chicago. It allows for peaceful demonstrations until the end of spring classes on June 1, requires the removal of all but one tent for aid, and restricts the demonstration area to allow only students, faculty and staff unless the university authorizes otherwise.

At Brown University in Rhode Island, Head of School Christina H. Paxton offered protest leaders the opportunity to meet with officials to discuss their arguments for divesting from Israel-related organizations in exchange for ending a camp.

In a letter to student protesters in Columbia, school officials noted that exams were about to begin and graduation was imminent.

“We urge you to remove the camp so that we do not lose this important occasion to your fellow students, their families and friends,” the letter said.

The protests led Columbia to hold remote classes. The school said in an email to students that bringing back police “at this time” would be counterproductive. The university said it would provide an alternative venue for protests after exams and graduation.

Colombia's handling of the protests prompted federal complaints.

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A class-action lawsuit on behalf of Jewish students alleges breach of contract by Columbia, alleging that despite policies and promises, the university failed to maintain a safe learning environment. It challenges the move away from in-person classes and seeks swift court action that would require Columbia to provide protections to students.

Meanwhile, a legal group representing pro-Palestinian students is urging the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to investigate Columbia's handling of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

A university spokesperson declined to comment on the complaints.

The plight of the arrested students Central area of ​​protests, with students and a growing number of teachers demanding amnesty for protesters. Whether suspensions and legal records follow students through their adult lives is at issue.

Meanwhile, protesters at other campuses said they were standing firm. Jacob Zinn, a second-year sociology graduate student at the University of North Carolina, said he has been protesting at the camp for four days, including talks with administrators on Friday.

“We are ready for anything, we will remain here until the university fulfills our demands, and we will remain firm and strong in the face of any brutality and oppression they try to attack us,” Jin said. of the camp.

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Mattis reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press journalists from around the country contributed to this report, including Jim Verduno in Austin, Texas; Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland; Christopher Weber in Los Angeles; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; David Collins in Hartford, Connecticut; Macchia Seminara in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Corey Williams in Detroit.

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