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As some universities negotiate with pro-Palestinian protesters, others call the police

Columbia University students who pro-Palestinian protests inspired across the country hunkered down in encampments for the 10th day Friday as administrators and police at campuses from California to Connecticut grappled with how to handle protests that have seen scuffles with police and hundreds of arrests.

Officials at Columbia and some other schools negotiated with student protesters who pushed back the police and redoubled their efforts. Other schools quickly turned to law enforcement to quell protests before they could take place.

Georgia State Patrol officers arrest a protester on the Emory University campus during a pro-Palestinian demonstration Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Georgia State Patrol officers arrest a protester on the Emory University campus during a pro-Palestinian demonstration Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

As the death toll rises the war in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis deepens, protesters at universities across the country demand schools cut financial ties in Israel and divest from businesses they believe promote conflict. Some Jewish students say the protests turned anti-Semitic and left them afraid to set foot on campus, partly prompting calls for police intervention.

After a tent encampment appeared Thursday at Indiana University in Bloomington, police, armed with shields and batons, pushed back the demonstrators and arrested 33. Hours later, at University of Connecticut police tore down tents and arrested one person.

And at Ohio State University, police clashed with protesters just hours after they rallied Thursday night. Those who refused to leave after warnings were arrested and charged with criminal trespass, university spokesman Benjamin Johnson said, citing rules prohibiting late-night events.

The clock is ticking as May opening ceremonies close, putting additional pressure on schools to suppress protests. In Columbia, protesters defiantly erected a tent encampment where many are expected to graduate in front of their families in just a few weeks.

Columbia officials said negotiations were showing progress as the school’s deadline Friday morning to reach an agreement on dismantling the camp approaches. However, two police buses were parked nearby and private security and police were present at the campus entrances.

“We have our demands; they have their own,” said Ben Chang, a Columbia University spokesman, adding that if negotiations fail, the university will have to consider other options.

Just after midnight, a group of about three dozen pro-Palestinian protesters handed out signs and began chanting outside the locked gates of Columbia University. They then walked away as at least 40 police officers gathered nearby.

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, has been negotiating with students barricaded inside a campus building since Monday, fending off an attempt by police to evacuate them. Professors met with protesters Thursday to try to negotiate a solution while the campus remains closed at least through the weekend.

Protesters chant during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Texas, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Austin, Texas.  (Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Protesters chant during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Texas, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Austin, Texas. (Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

A dean of the school, Jeff Crane, suggested at the meeting that the university form a committee that would include students to further the school’s investments. Crane also suggested that faculty and students continue to meet every 24 hours to maintain an open line of communication. The parties have not yet announced an agreement.

The school’s faculty and staff senate demanded the university president’s resignation in a vote of no confidence Thursday, citing the decision to call police to remove barricaded students Monday.

On the other side of the state, the University of Southern California canceled its May 10 graduation ceremony. The announcement came a day after more than 90 protesters were arrested on campus. The university said it will still host dozens of back-to-school events, including all traditional back-to-school ceremonies.

Authorities arrest a protester on the campus of Emory University during a pro-Palestinian demonstration, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Authorities arrest a protester on the campus of Emory University during a pro-Palestinian demonstration, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Tensions were already high after USC canceled a planned keynote speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing security concerns.

At the City College of New York on Thursday, hundreds of students gathered on the lawn beneath the Harlem campus’ famous Gothic buildings erupted in joy after a small contingent of police officers withdrew from the scene. In a corner of the quadrangle, “safety training” took place among the students.

At Emerson College in Boston, 108 people were arrested at an encampment Thursday morning. The video shows police first warning students in an alley to leave. The students clenched their arms to resist the police, who forcefully pushed through the crowd and knocked some demonstrators to the ground.

A woman is arrested during a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Texas, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Austin.  (Austin American-Statesman via AP)

A woman is arrested during a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Texas, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Austin. (Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Georgia State Patrol officers arrest a protester on the Emory University campus during a pro-Palestinian demonstration, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Georgia State Patrol officers arrest a protester on the Emory University campus during a pro-Palestinian demonstration, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

“As the night progressed, she became more and more tense. There were just more cops on all sides. It felt like we were slowly being pushed and crushed,” said Ocean Muir, a sophomore.

Muir said police picked her up by her arms and legs and took her away. Along with other students, Muir was charged Thursday with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Emerson College officials had warned students that the alley was a public road, and city officials had threatened action if the protesters did not leave. Emerson canceled classes Thursday and Boston police said four officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the confrontation.

The University of Texas at Austin campus was much quieter Thursday after 57 people were jailed and charged with criminal trespassing a day earlier. University officials removed the barricades and allowed protesters into the main plaza, beneath the school’s iconic clock tower.

A passerby, right, walks through a tent encampment, Thursday, April 25, 2024, on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  MIT students set up tent encampment on campus to protest what they say is MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and sever ties with the Israeli army.  (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A passerby, right, walks through a tent encampment, Thursday, April 25, 2024, on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT students set up tent encampment on campus to protest what they say is MIT’s failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and sever ties with the Israeli army. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A gathering of students and faculty protested both the war and Wednesday’s arrests, when state agents in riot gear and on horseback bulldozed demonstrators, forcing hundreds to students to leave the main school lawn.

At Emory University in Atlanta, local and state police intervened to dismantle a camp. Some officers carried semi-automatic weapons, and video showed officers using a stun gun on a protester they had pinned to the ground. The university said in a statement Thursday evening that objects were thrown at the officers and that they deployed “chemical irritants” as a crowd control measure.

Jail records show 22 people arrested by Emory police were charged with disorderly conduct. Emory said he was informed that 28 people were arrested, including 20 members of the university community, and some were released overnight.

Members of the New York Police Department's Strategic Response Group stand outside the main entrance of Columbia University in New York early Friday, April 26, 2024, as demonstrators continue to protest the war between Israel and Hamas.  (AP Photo/Aaron Morrison)

Members of the New York Police Department’s Strategic Response Group stand outside the main entrance of Columbia University in New York early Friday, April 26, 2024, as demonstrators continue to protest the war between Israel and Hamas. (AP Photo/Aaron Morrison)

Since Israel-Hamas War Since the investigation began, the U.S. Department of Education has launched civil rights investigations at dozens of universities and schools in response to complaints of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Among the institutions under investigation are numerous colleges facing protests, including Harvard and Columbia.

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Perry reported from Meredith, New Hampshire. Associated Press journalists from various locations, including Aaron Morrison, Stefanie Dazio, Kathy McCormack, Jim Vertuno, Acacia Coronado, Sudhin Thanawala, Jeff Amy, Mike Stewart, Collin Binkley, Carolyn Thompson, Jake Offenhartz and Sophia Tareen, contributed to this report.

News Source : apnews.com
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