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Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly interrupt University of Michigan graduation ceremony

A graduation ceremony at the University of Michigan on Saturday was briefly interrupted by dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters as higher education institutions across the country prepared for more demonstrations.

As the opening ceremony began at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, protesters in kaffiyehs and graduation caps unfurled Palestinian flags and posters while marching through the aisles. They marched toward the stage chanting, “Regents, regents, you cannot hide!” You are financing the genocide! reported the New York Times.

A protest banner read: “No more universities in Gaza.” Others were seen waving Israeli flags.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – MAY 4: Salma Hamamy carries a Palestine flag during a pro-Palestinian protest during the University of Michigan’s spring commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A group of students called on the University of Michigan to divest from its companies with ties to Israel during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nic Antaya/Getty Images


Campus police blocked protesters from reaching the stage.

Above, a plane was seen flying over the ceremony with a banner that read: “Divest from Israel now! Free Palestine.”

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – MAY 4: A banner in support of Palestine flies overhead during the University of Michigan’s spring commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A group of students called on the University of Michigan to divest from its companies with ties to Israel during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nic Antaya/Getty Images


Another plane had a different message: “We stand with Israel. Jewish lives matter.”

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – MAY 4: A banner in support of Israel flies overhead during the University of Michigan’s spring commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A group of students called on the University of Michigan to divest from its companies with ties to Israel during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nic Antaya/Getty Images


U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro paused several times during his speech, at one point saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you could please direct your attention again to the podium. »

Authorities said no one was arrested and the protest did not seriously disrupt the nearly two-hour event, attended by tens of thousands of people.

University spokeswoman Colleen Mastony said public safety personnel escorted the protesters to the rear of the stadium, where they remained until the event ended.

“Peaceful protests like this have taken place at UM commencement ceremonies for decades,” she added.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – MAY 4: Ari Belchinsky displays the flag of Israel during the University of Michigan’s spring commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A group of students called on the University of Michigan to divest from its companies with ties to Israel during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nic Antaya/Getty Images


Ahead of its commencement ceremony, the University of Michigan increased security measures, including screening and removal of banners and flags. Tickets would be required for the majority of events, CBS Detroit reported.

Laurie McCauley, Michigan’s chief academic officer, told students and staff that the school respects free speech but “no one has the right to disrupt university activities.”

The university allowed protesters to set up an encampment on campus, but police helped disperse a large gathering Friday evening and one person was arrested.

The current Israel-Hamas War triggered a widespread epidemic – at sometimes violent – demonstrations in colleges and universities Across the country over the last few weeks.

To try to avoid possible disruptions to final exams and graduation ceremonies, a small number of universities have reached agreements with the protesters. The deals at schools including Brown, Northwestern and Rutgers stand out amid the chaotic scenes and more than 2,400 arrests on 46 campuses across the country since April 17. Tent encampments and building takeovers have disrupted classes at some schools, including Columbia and UCLA.

The agreements included commitments by universities to review their investments in Israel or hear calls to stop doing business with the longtime U.S. ally. Many of the protesters’ demands have focused on ties to the Israeli military. the war continues in Gaza.

The agreements to even discuss divestment mark a major shift on a contentious issue for years, with opponents of a long-running campaign to boycott Israel saying it veers into anti-Semitism. But while universities have made concessions on amnesty for protesters and funding for Middle East studies, they have made no promises about changing their investments.

“I think for some universities it might just be a delaying tactic to defuse protests,” said Ralph Young, a history professor who studies American dissent at Temple University in Philadelphia. “The end of the semester is coming now. And maybe by the start of the next semester, there will be a ceasefire in Gaza.”

Meanwhile, arrests of protesters continued elsewhere.

Chicago police reported that dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested Saturday afternoon for criminal trespass at the Art Institute downtown. Police say protesters set up camp in a garden on the Art Institute property Saturday morning and barricaded and locked the gates. The encampment was emptied Saturday evening, police said.

Police broke up a protest at the University of Virginia. Campus police called it an “unlawful assembly” in a post on the social platform X.

Photos on social media showed police in tactical gear clearing protesters from an encampment on the Charlottesville campus. Authorities did not say how many people were arrested.

A dozen demonstrators who refused police orders to leave an encampment New York University shut down early Friday, and about 30 others left voluntarily, NYU spokesman John Beckman said. The school asked the municipal police to intervene, he added.


Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan on pro-Palestinian protests at US universities

NYPD officers also cleared an encampment at the New School in Greenwich Village at the request of school administrators. No arrests have been announced.

Another 132 protesters were arrested when police broke up an encampment at the State University of New York at New Paltz starting Thursday evening, authorities said.

And nine were arrested at the University of Tennessee, including seven students who Chancellor Donde Plowman said would also be disciplined under the school’s code of conduct.

The movement began on April 17 in Columbia, where student protesters built an encampment to call for an end to the war between Israel and Hamas.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict in the Gaza Strip, according to the Health Ministry. Israel launched its offensive after October 7, when Hamas militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 250 hostages in an attack on southern Israel.

News Source : www.cbsnews.com
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