Mass arrests followed the spread of US Gaza protests

  • James Fitzgerald & Bernd Debusman Jr
  • BBC News

video title, WATCH: Dozens of Gaza protesters arrested at Yale University

Protests against the war in Gaza have spread from Columbia and Yale to other US universities as authorities struggle to quell the demonstrations.

On Monday night, police moved in to break up a protest at New York University and made several arrests.

Dozens of students were arrested at Yale earlier in the day, while Columbia canceled in-person classes.

Similar “camps” have sprung up at Berkeley, MIT and other elite colleges across the country.

Demonstrations and heated debates about the Israel-Gaza war and free speech have rocked US campuses since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, fueling Israel's campaign in Gaza.

In America, students from both sides say that both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents have been on the rise since then.

Asked about the campus protests on Monday, President Joe Biden said he condemned both “anti-Semitic sentiments” and “people who don't understand what's going on with the Palestinians.”

The anti-campus movement gained attention last week after New York City police were called to the city's Columbia University campus and arrested more than 100 protesters.

In a statement on Monday, Columbia announced that all classes would be held virtually, with Columbia President Baroness Shabig citing incidents of “threatening and harassing behavior.”

Lady Shafiq said the tensions on campus were “exploited by people who have no connection to Columbia and have come to campus to pursue their own agendas.”

At New York University, protesters pitched tents across the Stern School of Business.

As has happened at some other universities, NYU protesters have called on the school to disclose “funds and grants from arms manufacturers and organizations interested in the Israeli occupation.”

By Monday night, the police had started arresting protesters there.

Hours earlier, nearly 50 protesters were arrested at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where authorities said hundreds of people had gathered; Many of them refuse requests to leave.

Protest camps have also been established at the University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Michigan, Emerson College, and Tufts.

Officials at New York University said they had received reports of “threatening chants and several anti-Semitic incidents.” This issue has affected the protests more widely.

Recent videos posted online show some protestors near Colombia showing support for a Hamas attack on Israel.

Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Manning, who toured Columbia on Monday, said she saw protesters there calling for the destruction of Israel.

And the Hasidic group Chabad at Columbia University said Jewish students were yelled at and subjected to harmful rhetoric.

A rabbi affiliated with the university also reportedly sent a message to 300 Jewish Columbia students, warning them to avoid campus until the situation “improves dramatically.”

Members of the protest groups who issued public statements denied anti-Semitism and argued that their criticism was reserved for the Israeli state and its supporters.

Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine said in a statement Sunday that it “firmly rejects any form of hatred or bigotry” and criticized “annoying individuals who do not represent us.”

image caption, Pro-Palestinian students continue to camp on the Columbia University campus to protest the university's ties to Israel.

In a statement, Lady Shafiq said a task force had been formed in Colombia “to try to bring this crisis to a resolution.”

The university and Lady Shafiq — who traveled to Capitol Hill last week to testify before a congressional committee about the university's efforts to tackle univadism — are being urged to address the situation.

A group of federal lawmakers, led by Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, signed a letter on Monday that Ms Stefanik said “fails to put an end to mobs of students and agitators calling for actions. Terrorism against Jewish students”.

The protests in New York also drew the attention of Democratic Reps. Kathy Manning, Jared Moskowitz, Josh Gottheimer and Dan Goldman.

Congressman Gotheimer said Columbia will “pay the price” if it fails to ensure Jewish students feel welcome and safe at the university.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx, the chair of the House Education Committee, wrote in a letter published online that Columbia's “continued failure to restore order and safety” violates obligations that require federal assistance and “must be immediate.” corrected”.

The protests also prompted New England Patriot NFL team owner and Columbia alumnus Robert Kraft to warn that he would end support for the university “until appropriate action is taken.”

However, some faculty members at the university blamed Columbia for handling the protest and calling the police.

In a statement sent to the BBC on Monday evening, Columbia's own Knight First Amendment Institute called for an “urgent course correction”.

It cited university rules to argue that outside authorities should be involved only when there is a “clear and present danger to persons, property, or the substantial operation of any unit of the university.”

“Even if unauthorized, we do not know how the encampment and protests caused such danger,” the statement said.

The Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel killed about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners — mostly civilians — and took 253 hostages back to Gaza, according to Israeli calculations.

Israel retaliated with its most aggressive war in Gaza, aimed at destroying Hamas and freeing hostages. More than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza – most of them children and women – have been killed in the conflict, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

There have also been widespread protests in the US over events in the Middle East.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have recently blocked major roads across the country, blocking access to airports including Chicago's O'Hare International and Seattle-Tacoma International, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

image caption, Protesters near the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut
image caption, Students listen to a speaker at a protest at Emerson College
image caption, Part of the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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