Pro-Palestinian Protests: Clashes between students and universities grow tense

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said early Wednesday it was making “significant progress” on a tent camp with pro-Palestinian student protesters and was extending a deadline to remove it, though clashes in the Ivy League remain tense. Campus in Upper Manhattan.

The university said in a statement that the student protesters had “committed to dismantling and removing a significant number of tents”. On Wednesday morning there was a small camp on campus.

Across the country, protesters at California State Polytechnic University in Humboldt, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) north of San Francisco, began using furniture, tents, chains and zip ties to block building entrances.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024, Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Students protest at a camp outside Kresge Auditorium on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus.

Both campuses have been part of intense protests Israel's War with Hamas A demand has been made by university students Schools severed financial ties to Israel and withdrawing from the institutions that enable its months-long conflict. Dozens have been arrested on charges of trespassing or disorderly conduct.

Colombia President Minoch Shafik set a midnight deadline in a statement Tuesday to reach an agreement with students to remove the camp, or “we must consider alternative options.”

As of 3 a.m., the university said it had “constructive dialogue” and that it would continue discussions for 48 hours.

The student protesters will “ensure the exit of those not affiliated with Columbia,” the statement said. Only Columbia University students will participate in the protest.

Student protesters will also comply with city fire department requirements and “have taken steps to make the camp welcoming to all and prohibit discriminatory or harassing language,” the statement said.

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The university's statement was released hours before U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson's trip to Columbia to meet with Jewish students and address anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall on the University of California campus, Tuesday, April 23, 2024.  Some colleges have encouraged students to attend classes remotely.  (AP Photo/Haven Daly)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall on the University of California, Berkeley campus, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Berkeley, California. (AP Photo/Haven Daly)

On Tuesday night, Sen. Police arrested more than 200 protesters who blocked traffic during a non-college demonstration calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, near Chuck Schumer's home. Jewish Voice for Peace organized the demonstration on the second night of Passover, and protesters held down a large circular banner depicting food on a seder plate.

At Cal Poly Humboldt, protesters chanted, “We're not afraid of you!” Video footage shows rioters at the building's entrance before officers push them away. Student Peyton McKinzie said she was walking on campus Monday when she saw police holding a woman by the hair and another student with a bandage on her head.

“I think a lot of students are in shock about it,” he said.

Three students were arrested, according to a statement from the school, which remains on campus as of Wednesday. Students occupied the second campus building on Tuesday.

Another camp was set up Tuesday at the University of Rochester in upstate New York. Omar Darwesh, a Palestinian elder, said he had lost relatives to the war.

“We don't call for the destruction of Israel, we never talk about threatening the Jews – the focus is on us and what we need, and that's being treated like a human being. We have to find a way to live together.” he told television station WHEC.

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University of Rochester officials said in a statement that protesters must follow ground rules, including providing university identification when asked.

The upsurge of protests has left the universities Struggles to balance campus security Along with free speech rights. Many have long tolerated protests demanding schools divest from companies that sell arms to Israel to condemn Israel's attack on Gaza.

Now, universities are enforcing more strict discipline, citing security concerns as some Jewish students say criticism of Israel has become anti-Semitic.

New York City Police Department officers arrest pro-Palestinian protesters outside a student-led encampment at New York University, Monday, April 22, 2024.  Protests and encampments were set up to demand the university's divestment from arms manufacturers and the Israeli government.  The NYPD said Monday that 133 protesters were arrested, and all have been released with summonses to appear in court on disorderly conduct charges.  (AP Photo/Nareen Naseer)

New York City Police Department officers arrest pro-Palestinian protesters outside a student-led encampment at New York University, Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Nareen Naseer)

Protests have simmered for months, but kicked into high gear after more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators camped out in Colombia. They were arrested on Thursday.

Late Monday at New York University, police said 133 protesters were taken into custody and released with summonses to appear in court on disorderly conduct charges.

In Connecticut, police arrested 60 protesters, including 47 students at Yale.

Yale President Peter Salovey said the protesters turned down an offer to end the demonstration and meet with trustees. After several warnings, school officials determined “the situation was no longer safe,” so police cleared the camp and made the arrests.

Tuesday's demonstration at the University of Michigan grew to nearly 40 tents, and nine anti-war protesters at the University of Minnesota were arrested after police cleared a camp in front of the library. Hundreds gathered in the afternoon demanding their release.

Harvard University in Massachusetts tried to stay one step ahead of the protests by locking most entrances into its famous Harvard Yard and restricting access to those with school identification. Warning signs have also been put up against setting up tents or tables on the school premises without permission.

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Christian DeLeon, a doctoral student in literature, said he understands why the Harvard administration is trying to avoid protests, but there should still be a place for students to express themselves.

“We can all use spaces like this to protest, to make our voices heard,” he said.

Ben Wisner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said college presidents face very difficult decisions because they have a responsibility to ensure others can express their views while protecting students from threats and intimidation.

The New York Civil Liberties Union warned universities too quickly to call law enforcement in a statement Tuesday.

“Officials should not conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism or use hate incidents as an excuse to silence political views they oppose,” said Donna Lieberman, the group's executive director.

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Perry reports from Meredith, New Hampshire. Associated Press journalists from around the country contributed to this report, including Will Weisert, Larry Lage, Steve LeBlanc, Dave Collins, Jim Salter, Haven Daly, Jesse Betain and John Antsak.

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