US campus protests: Police arrest pro-Palestinian protesters at MIT


Police arrested over 40 pro-Palestinian protesters

Police arrested over 40 protesters and dismantled pro-Palestinian encampments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Arizona early Friday, as the government continued to crack down on protests leading up to commencement ceremonies on US campuses.

Philadelphia officers in riot gear pulled reporters away from the University of Pennsylvania encampment before ripping down tents and putting demonstrators’ belongings into a trash truck, according to the student newspaper. Penn’s public safety agency reported that approximately 33 persons had been arrested.

According to a letter from the school’s president, ten people were arrested at M.I.T. after days of rising tensions on the Cambridge campus. The arrests came after several students ignored a university deadline to disassemble.

A similar incident played out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology outside Boston, where student journalists reported that riot police arrested at least ten student demonstrators before crushing the campsite and removing their belongings.

The morning raids were the latest move by school and local authorities to put a stop to such demonstrations at dozens of institutions around the country. Students have urged a cease-fire in Israel’s incursion into Gaza, as well as the divestment of their institutions from Israeli-related corporations.

Many university authorities have described the encampments as safety problems and have sought to put an end to them ahead of the May commencement ceremonies, which attract big crowds of outside visitors to campuses.

MIT President Sally Kornbluth said in a statement on Friday that the ten people arrested on Friday “peacefully” surrendered to police, but that the arrests occurred following rising conflicts between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters.

“It was not heading in a direction anyone could call peaceful,” she stated, adding that “the cost and disruption for the community overall made the situation increasingly untenable.”

Penn Interim President J. Larry Jameson said in a statement on Monday that “every day the encampment exists, the campus is less safe,” citing instances of harassing and threatening behavior, defacing campus monuments, and a video of a student being denied access to the encampment.

Since the initial mass arrests at Columbia University in New York on April 18, at least 2,600 demonstrators have been held at over 100 events in 39 states and Washington, D.C., according to The Appeal, a nonprofit news group. Some policing experts argue that such broad detentions can be counterproductive, encouraging rather than preventing protests.

Similar protests have occurred on campuses in other nations as well. In western Canada, local police removed protestors from an encampment at the University of Calgary on Thursday, using “non-lethal munitions,” according to a city statement, which stated that the number of arrests would be announced on Friday.

Standoffs with protestors have escalated on campuses across the United States and Europe. Some colleges cracked down immediately, while others tolerated the protests. Some have lost patience and called the police due to concerns about interruptions to campus life and safety.

The protest movement started roughly three weeks ago at Columbia University in New York City. It has since spread to college campuses across the country, with demonstrators primarily attempting to draw attention to the casualties caused by the Israel-Hamas conflict or calling on their institutions to cease doing business with Israel or corporations that support its war efforts.

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