Gaza protests: Arrests and riots at US universities

According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, there were not only supporters of a pro-Palestinian group, but also pro-Israel demonstrators. The police arrived from Tuesday to Wednesday night, but the tense situation in the campus continued.

Footage shown live by CNN showed, among other things, counter-protesters trying to break into the tented camp by tearing down wooden barriers that had been erected to protect the camp. Demonstrators gathered at the camp protested and used pepper spray, the Los Angeles Times reported. Items including firecrackers were also thrown. Many required medical treatment.

AP/Ethan Swope

Riots between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators at UCLA in Los Angeles

The “limited and delayed” response by law enforcement on campus is “unacceptable” and answers are needed, California Governor Gavin Newsom's office said in a statement posted on X (Twitter).

New York mayor: 300 arrested

Demonstrators at universities across the country criticized Israel's actions in the Gaza war and called for solidarity with the Palestinians. At Columbia University they are demanding the severance of the university's financial ties to Israel. The university's administration denied this – and requested police support Tuesday night after masked men wearing Palestinian scarves broke windows, entered Hamilton Hall and barricaded the entrance to the building with chairs and tables.

Mayor Eric Adams said a total of 300 people were arrested at Columbia University and City College in the American metropolis. Adams again blamed agitators outside the student body for fueling the protests. Former US President Donald Trump described the police operation in Colombia as “beautiful to watch”. “This drastic escalation” of months of protests has brought the university “to the brink of the abyss,” university president Minuch Shafiq wrote in a statement.

During the police operation, dozens of tents in the unity camp on the site were also searched. Demonstrators tried to block the police with a human chain, but they were pushed aside or torn apart. The tent camp was finally dismantled.

Police cleared a protest camp at Columbia University in New York

APA/AFP/Emily Byrski

New York police clear protest encampment at Columbia University

Brown University: Agreement on Contracts

Students have also recently occupied university buildings in other US cities, such as Portland. At Brown University in Providence (Rhode Island), the demonstrators reached an agreement: they removed their tent camp – in return the university promised to vote on the university's financial relations with Israel.

It was the second major crackdown on the Columbia campus after New York police moved against students nearly two weeks ago at the request of the university administration. They saw the right to freedom of expression limited and criticized the actions of the security forces as disproportionate. As a result, demonstrations and tent camps were set up at dozens of universities in the United States.

Critics accuse the radical part of the protest movement of being particularly anti-Semitic and belittling Hamas — the Islamist organization that denies Israel's right to exist and fueled the Gaza war with unprecedented carnage.

An increase in American universities

In America, pro-Palestinian protests continue at universities. In New York, police cleared an occupied university building in a large-scale operation on Tuesday evening (local time). Many demonstrators were temporarily arrested.

Kirby: “Not an example of peaceful protest”

The violent occupation of Hamilton Hall further fueled student criticism. Columbia University said it “has made it very clear that unruly demonstrators cannot disrupt university operations indefinitely. If this continues, there will be clear consequences.” Director of Communications John Kirby said.

Since pro-Palestinian student protests began in April, more than 1,000 demonstrators have been temporarily arrested in the United States. On Tuesday, police intervened not only in New York and California, but also in other US states such as Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.

Hamas and other Islamist groups killed about 1,200 people in the Gaza Strip and took more than 250 hostages during an October 7 attack on Israel. Israel retaliated with ground strikes and airstrikes along the coast. As a result, some 34,500 people have been killed since the war began, according to data from the Hamas-controlled health authority — which cannot be independently verified.

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