Gaza war protesters leave University of Southern California after police arrive

“The operation was peaceful,” Folt wrote in an update. “Campus is opening, students are returning to prepare for finals, and commencement set-up is in full swing.”

USC earlier cancelled its main graduation ceremony while allowing other commencement activities to continue.

At the Northeastern commencement on Sunday, some students waved small Palestinian and Israeli flags but were outnumbered by those waving the flags of India and the US, among others. Undergraduate student speaker Rebecca Bamidele drew brief cheers when she called for peace in Gaza.

Associated Press has tallied about 2,500 people arrested at about 50 campuses since April 18, based on its reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement.


KFC Malaysia temporarily closes some outlets amid anti-Israel boycott

KFC Malaysia temporarily closes some outlets amid anti-Israel boycott

Arrests continued apace over the weekend. At the University of Virginia, there were 25 arrests on Saturday for trespassing after police clashed with protesters who refused to remove tents. At the Art Institute of Chicago campus, police cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment hours after it was set up on Saturday and arrested 68 people, saying they would be charged with criminal trespass.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, student demonstrators began their protest on the grass outside the school chapel on Tuesday. Video on Saturday showed police in riot gear and holding shields lined up on campus, while protesters chanted “Free Palestine”.

As police moved in, students were pushed to the ground, pulled by their arms and sprayed with a chemical irritant, Laura Goldblatt, an assistant professor who has been helping the demonstrators, told The Washington Post. The university said protesters were told that tents were banned under school policy and were asked to remove them.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares told Fox News on Sunday the police response was justified because students had been warned repeatedly to leave, were violating the school’s conduct code, and that outsiders who were not students provided protesters with supplies such as wooden barriers.

“We’ve seen folks that are not students show up in riot gear with bull horns to direct the protesters on how to flank our officers,” Miyares said.

He said some had put bear spray into water bottles and thrown them at officers.

A pro-Palestinian demonstrator wears goggles and a mask as police and protesters stand across from one another on the grounds of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. Photo: The Daily Progress via AP

It was the latest clash in weeks of protests and tension at US colleges and universities.

Tent encampments of protesters urging universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support the war in Gaza have spread in a student movement unlike any other this century. Some schools reached agreements with protesters to end the demonstrations and reduce the possibility of disrupting final exams and commencements.

The University of Michigan was among the schools bracing for protests during commencement this weekend, as were Indiana University, Ohio State University and Northeastern. More ceremonies are planned in the coming weeks.

In Ann Arbor, there was a protest at the beginning of the event at Michigan Stadium. About 75 people, many wearing traditional Arabic keffiyehs along with their graduation caps, marched up the main aisle towards the stage.

They chanted “Regents, regents, you can’t hide! You are funding genocide!” while holding signs, including one that read: “No universities left in Gaza.”

Overhead, planes pulled banners with competing messages. “Divest from Israel now! Free Palestine!” and “We stand with Israel. Jewish lives matter”.

Officials said no one was arrested and the protest did not seriously interrupt the nearly two-hour event, attended by tens of thousands of people, some of them waving Israeli flags.

Indiana University student Mykala Kaplan speaks about her recent experiences being Jewish on campus during a pro-Israel rally at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Photo: AP

At Indiana University, protesters urged supporters to wear their keffiyehs and walk out during remarks by school President Pamela Whitten on Saturday evening. The Bloomington campus designated a protest zone outside Memorial Stadium, where the ceremony was held.

At Princeton University in New Jersey, 18 students began a hunger strike to try to push the university to divest from companies tied to Israel. Students at other colleges, including Brown and Yale, launched similar hunger strikes this year before the more recent wave of demonstrations.

The protests stem from the conflict that started on October 7 when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking roughly 250 hostages. Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. Israeli strikes have devastated the enclave and displaced most of its inhabitants.


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