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Campus protests, counter-protests, violence, and police responses in 2024

Updated frequently. Will keep adding entries, not to support sides but to get the big picture. Go to the original articles to get their full story.

Striking deals to end campus protests, some colleges invite discussion of their investments (Kathleen Foody, Karen Matthews, Mike Catalini, and MIchael Hill, AP News, 5-3-24) Anti-war demonstrations ceased this week at a small number of U.S. universities after school leaders struck deals with pro-Palestinian protesters, fending off possible disruptions of final exams and graduation ceremonies. The agreements at schools including Brown, Northwestern and Rutgers stand out amid the chaotic scenes and 2,400-plus arrests on 46 campuses nationwide since April 17.
    Deals included commitments by universities to review their investments in Israel or hear calls to stop doing business with the longtime U.S. ally. Many protester demands have zeroed in on links to the Israeli military as the war grinds on in Gaza.

  What to know about student protests
---What's happening: Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up at many college campuses following the arrest of demonstrators in April at Columbia University.
---Why: The students are protesting the war's death toll and are calling for universities to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel's military efforts in Gaza.
---On campus: As students around the country protest, student journalists are covering their peers in a moment of uncertainty.

2024 pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses Wikipedia's entry is more thorough than many news stories, trying to cover many aspects of, and angles on, the protests.

California police move in to dismantle pro-Palestinian protest camp at UCLA (Reuters, 5-2-24)
    "Hundreds of helmeted police muscled their way into a central plaza of the University of California at Los Angeles early on Thursday to dismantle a pro-Palestinian protest camp attacked the previous night by pro-Israel supporters.
    "The pre-dawn police crackdown at UCLA marked the latest flashpoint for mounting tensions on U.S. college campuses, where protests over Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza have led to student clashes with each other and law enforcement.
    "Live TV footage showed about six protesters under arrest, kneeling on the ground, their hands bound behind their backs with zip-ties.
    "Dozens of loud explosions were heard during the clash from flash-bang charges, or stun grenades, fired by police."


DRAD Statement: As a free speech organization, we condemn campus crackdowns (Defending Rights & Dissent, 5-1-24)
   "Defending Rights & Dissent condemns the crackdown taking place across campuses in the United States. Across the country, we have seen protests calling for a ceasefire and end to Israel’s brutal war in Gaza. Increasingly, many of these protests have taken place on America’s campuses. Since the Columbia University occupation began on April 17, protests, including encampments, have spread across college campuses as students link their opposition to Israel’s war with demands for university divestment. In spite of false claims to the contrary, the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful and nonviolent.
   "The nonviolent nature of the protests has been no protection against police violence. Police have arrested and assaulted both students and professors engaged in peaceful protests. They’ve even arrested journalists covering the protests. Police have shown up to peaceful protests in riot gear or on horseback. They have used tear gas, projectiles, tasers, and batons against the protesters. The situation continues to develop rapidly, but at the time of publication, arrests had taken place on nearly thirty separate college campuses.
   "These violent attacks on protesters have been accompanied by the spread of false information designed to demonize the protesters and facilitate the crackdown against them. Northwestern University allowed the police to break up students protests and arrest 102 students. The university justified its decision by stating one of the pro-Palestine protesters yelled “kill the Jews.” In fact, according to journalists on the ground, a pro-Israel counter protester engaged in what they described as a “provocative joke.” Multiple media outlets repeated a story that a protester stabbed a Yale student in the eye because the student was Jewish. This story turned out to be false. A reporter shared a picture on social media purportedly of a Columbia student protester holding a despicably anti-Semitic sign. Later, it was revealed that not only was the man not a student protester, the picture was not even taken on Columbia’s campus. The individual, who has no connection to advocacy for Palestinian rights, frequently holds anti-Semitic displays across New York City. False stories have been repeated by politicians advocating for a crackdown on student protests.
    Read the full story HERE

UCLA students describe violent attack on Gaza protest encampment: ‘It was terrifying’ (Dani Anguiano in Los Angeles, The Guardian, 5-1-24)

Slow response from authorities left students shocked as people wearing white masks attacked pro-Palestine protesters
   When Meghna Nair, a second-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles, saw a masked group of people headed toward the pro-Palestine encampment on campus late Tuesday evening, she expected trouble.
   “I knew where they were going. I had an idea what they planned to do,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
   “But the violence that unfolded on the public university’s campus overnight and the slow response from authorities shocked Nair and other UCLA students.
   “Late Tuesday night, a masked group surrounded the encampment in solidarity with Gaza, throwing fireworks and violently attacking students. Students and reporters for multiple outlets said university-hired security forces locked themselves in nearby buildings and police looked on for hours before intervening.
   "UCLA cancelled all classes on Wednesday and with the exception of the central meeting area, the normally lively campus was mostly deserted. A helicopter hovered overhead throughout the morning while groups of security guards and law enforcement stood around the sectioned off encampment. Students slowed as they passed the barricades, taking in the scene." ...
   "Nair said she was sickened by the attacks on students who she viewed as courageous for standing up for what they believe in and advocating for Palestinians.
   “They didn’t start this. This was a peaceful protest,” she said. “What I saw last night, those people, as far as I know, were just random people coming in on to our campus, full grown adults and they started attacking kids.”

Noah Goldberg Twitter thread (Noah Goldberg @Noah__Goldberg) on Twitter. "A nugget tucked in mine and @LAcrimes reporting on police response at UCLA last night.
According to three sources, Mayor Bass had to call UCLA Chancellor Gene Block last night to get the chancellor to allow LAPD to deploy on the campus."

Police move in and begin dismantling pro-Palestinian demonstrators’ encampment at UCLA (Los Angeles, AP/WTOP, 5-24) "Police removed barricades and began dismantling a pro-Palestinian demonstrators’ fortified encampment early Thursday at the University of California, Los Angeles, after hundreds of protesters defied police orders to leave, about 24 hours after counterprotesters attacked a tent encampment on the campus.
     "Police methodically ripped apart the encampment’s barricade of plywood, pallets, metal fences and trash dumpsters and made an opening toward dozens of tents of demonstrators. Police also began to pull down canopies and tents. Demonstrators held umbrellas like shields as they faced off with dozens of officers.
     "The police action occurred a night after the UCLA administration and campus police waited hours to stop the counterprotesters’ attack. The delay drew condemnation from Muslim students and California Gov. Gavin Newsom." 

Governor @GavinNewsom statement on the violence that unfolded at @UCLA. "I condemn the violence at UCLA last night. The law is clear: The right to free speech does not extend to inciting violence, vandalism, or lawlessness on campus. Those who engage in illegal behavior must be held accountable for their actions--including through criminal prosecution, suspension, or expulsion." ~ Governor Gavin Newsom

Biden says ‘order must prevail’ during campus protests over the war in Gaza (Chris Megerian, AP News, 5-2-24) The Democratic president broke days of silence on the protests with his remarks, which followed mounting criticism from Republicans who have tried to turn scenes of unrest into a campaign cudgel. By focusing on a law-and-order message while defending the right to free speech, Biden is grasping for a middle ground on an intensely divisive issue in the middle of his reelection campaign.

Student journalists discuss covering the campus protests (PBS NewsHour, 5-1-24)
--- Daily News Lessons (many of them, some on protests, most on issues of the day. From PBS NewsHour)

Student journalists discuss covering the campus protests against Israel’s war in Gaza (Transcript, PBS NewsHour, 4-30-24: reporting: Amna Nawaz, Karina Cuevas, Ethan Dodd, Leila Jackson) News coverage has been "very over the top on the days where there is violence and there is brutality by police possibly, but not so much when there is just peaceful protests that have been happening in the days since." Feedback invited.

Student journalists are covering their own campuses in convulsion. Here’s what they have to say (David Bauder and Christine Fernando, AP News, 5-2-24) The Columbia-based Pulitzer Prize Board, meeting this weekend to decide on its annual prizes, issued a statement on Thursday recognizing “the tireless efforts of student journalists across our nation’s college campuses, who are covering protests and unrest in the face of great personal and academic risk.”
    The protest movement has become a training ground for students grappling with complicated editorial decisions for some of the first times in their careers. They confront the awkwardness of reporting on their peers and the challenge not to get swept up in emotion.
    On American campuses awash in anger this spring, student journalists are in the center of it all, sometimes uncomfortably so.

    “This is your legacy,” the Spectator wrote — “a president more focused on the brand of your university than the safety of your students and their demands for justice.”
    “This is a moment in our campus’ history,” said Arianna Smith, editor-in-chief of The Lantern at Ohio State University. “Being able to contribute to its coverage is a privilege we don’t take lightly.   We’re under a lot of pressure to get it right, to be accurate, so that’s what we’re striving to do.”
    At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, student journalists are also making difficult decisions about anonymous sourcing. Managing Editor Liv Reilly said photographers are being mindful not to take photos that show faces of people who fear being arrested."


The protests over the Israel-Hamas war put a spotlight on college endowments (Thalia Beaty, AP News, 4-26-24)

    “Divest from death” read the bubble letters written in chalk on the sidewalk on Tuesday outside of The New School in New York City.

    "Campaigns to pressure universities to divest for political or ethical reasons go back decades, at least to the 1970s when students pressured schools to withdraw from investments that benefited South Africa under apartheid rule. More recently, in the early aughts, schools made rules barring investments in things like alcohol, tobacco and gambling, according to a report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and Commonfund.

    "Campus protests are bringing attention to who controls university endowments and how decisions about those investments get made. Endowments usually are managed by a board of trustees at the university and the purpose of any endowment is agreed upon by the donors, usually to benefit the institution. They don’t “belong” to current students, faculty or alumni but rather to the organization itself."  A thoughtful piece.

US campus protests: hundreds of riot police move in to disperse pro-Palestinian demonstrators at UCLA – live (Gloria Oladipo; Fran Lawther, Amy Sedghi, Hamish Mackay, Jonathan Yerushalmy and Lois Beckett, The Guardian, 5-2-24)
   "Officers in tactical gear moving on to campus in latest flashpoint for mounting tensions over protests at US colleges.
   "As police helicopters hovered overhead, the sound of flash-bangs, which produce a bright light and a loud noise to disorient and stun people, pierced the air. Protesters chanted “where were you last night?” as the officers approached.
   "California Highway Patrol officers wearing face shields and protective vests stood with their batons protruding out to separate them from demonstrators, who wore helmets and gas masks and chanted, “you want peace. We want justice.”
   "Police methodically ripped apart the encampment’s barricade of plywood, pallets, metal fences and trash dumpsters and made an opening toward dozens of tents of demonstrators. Police also began to pull down canopies and tents. Demonstrators held umbrellas like shields as they faced off with dozens of officers."

‘Unacceptable’: Why it took hours for police to quell attack at UCLA pro-Palestinian camp (Noah Goldberg, Richard Winton and Summer Lin, Los Angeles Times, 5-1-24)
   "When dozens of counterprotesters swarmed UCLA late Tuesday night, attacking the Palestinian solidarity encampment at the center of campus, university authorities were quickly overwhelmed.
   "Law enforcement sources told The Times there were only a few UCLA police officers on hand. They tried to stop the violence but were no match for the crowd and had to retreat, having been attacked themselves, the sources said.
   "A group of unarmed private security guards was there as well. But the guards were hired mainly to protect campus buildings, not to break up fights or make arrests. So they observed the scene as it descended into chaos.
   "It would take about three hours for scores of California Highway Patrol officers and police from Los Angeles and other agencies to fully bring the situation under control.
   "The response to the violence is now under increasing scrutiny, with many on campus and outside criticizing UCLA for not handling the violent counterprotest better."

British Colleges Are Handling Protests Differently. Will It Pay Off? (Stephen Castle, NY Times, 5-11-24) University leaders have so far adopted a more permissive attitude to pro-Palestinian encampments than their U.S. counterparts. Here’s why.

Where are the US college campus protests and what is happening? (Jonathan Yerushalmy, Helen Livingstone, and Erum Salam, Explainer, The Guardian, 5-2-24) Protest encampments have been set up on about 30 campuses across the US over the Israel-Gaza war, with unrest flaring at some after police moved in to clear out protesters


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