Campus rallies erupt across U.S. over Gaza

2024-04-26 10:14:18China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Multiple universities across the United States have erupted in protests against the escalation of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Students have demanded their universities divest assets from Israel and seek to pressure the US government to rein in Israeli strikes on civilians in Gaza, which have killed more than 34,000 people.

Hundreds of arrests have been made, starting with the protests at Columbia University on April 18, when pro-Palestinian protesters, who are now still erecting encampments, took root on campus.

Columbia University students heckled House Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday as he visited the flashpoint of nationwide student demonstrations. Johnson told reporters that if the demonstrations were not contained quickly it would be "an appropriate time for the National Guard".

The university said on Wednesday that student protesters had agreed to take down "a significant number of tents", but protests and tension between students and administrators are continuing, as the president of Columbia University, Minouche Shafik, called on the New York Police Department to arrest students.

"There is a heavy police presence. I'm sure when you entered the campus, you are aware of all of the security around here," Althea C., a 21-year-old environmental biology student, told China Daily. "But our movement is very strong."

'Hands off students'

Professors were spontaneously standing in front of students against police officers on Monday night, wearing gowns and hoods, holding signs saying "Hands off our students".

"It's very difficult to have complicated conversations when you have 100 of your students being hauled off with zip ties around their wrists by the NYPD," Nara Milanich, a history professor at Barnard College of Columbia University, told China Daily.

As the encampment took place on the lawn, a small group of pro-Israel students also displayed demonstrations on the steps.

"I want everyone to live in security to not have to fear for their lives. I do not wish war to be anywhere," said a pro-Israel student who wants to remain anonymous. "I personally want an end to this war and that includes the ceasing of rockets flying in Israel from every direction."

Meanwhile, in Texas on Wednesday, state highway patrol troopers in riot gear and police on horseback broke up a protest at the University of Texas in Austin. The Texas Department of Public Safety posted on X that 34 people had been arrested.

The University of Southern California declared its campus closed and asked the Los Angeles Police Department to clear a demonstration. Police arrested students who peacefully surrendered one by one, hours after campus police were overwhelmed by protesters and requested the help.

Students also demonstrated at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

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