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Student protests across US put pressure on the White House to act on Israel

Police at several universities across the U.S. moved in to clear the encampments, arresting dozens of protesters over the weekend.
Police arrest protesters attempting to camp in support of Palestinians
Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 28, 2024

Hundreds of college students across the U.S. spent the weekend camped out on campuses protesting the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

On the University of Arizona campus, students held a lunchtime rally and march in support of Palestine Friday. Monday morning, students had set up a small encampment on the UA Mall.

Spokespeople with the UA's Center for the Philosophy of Freedom have told KGUN 9 they "are monitoring today’s event and are engaging in active conversations with the participants."

According to the school, students must conclude their demonstration by 10:30 p.m. or risk arrest.

UA student protesters

KGUN 9's Kenny Darr will have more on this story in our Monday evening newscasts.

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Police at several universities moved in to clear the encampments, arresting dozens of protesters, with many universities focusing largely on removing non-students.

Washington University announcedon Saturday that they arrested 100 individuals, all of whom are now facing charges of trespassing, with some also facing charges of resisting arrest and assault, particularly concerning injuries inflicted upon three police officers. Among those detained, the university says that 23 were students and four were employees.

Of those arrested was Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, along with her campaign manager and deputy campaign manager.

On Sunday, Stein shared an interview with KSDK News, revealing that she had been charged with assaulting a police officer during the incident.

“I think it's a really bad look for the university that they are out there, basically, they call out the police and they are arresting this encampment that is nothing other than the exercise of our constitutional rights,” said Stein of the arrests. “This is about freedom of speech, and not just any old freedom of speech, but freedom of speech on a very critical issue that needs debate and dialogue, and there they are sending in the riot police and basically creating a riot in an otherwise peaceful demonstration. So, this is just shameful.”

The students at Washington University are demanding the school cut ties with Boeing, which has a long-standing relationship with Israel.

While things had calmed down by Sunday, on Saturday, those protests resulted in the arrest of nearly 300 people across different universities from Massachusetts to Arizona, bringing the total to almost 900 arrested since the first pro-Palestinian protest broke out at Columbia University on Apr. 18, according to The Associated Press.

All these protests are putting pressure on the White House to take action on the matter and help put an end to the war. However, U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby emphasized Sunday that protests need to stay peaceful.

"The president knows that there are very strong feelings about the war in Gaza. He understands that, he respects that, and as he has said many times, we certainly respect the right of peaceful protest. People should have the ability to air their views and to share their perspectives publicly, but it has to be peaceful," Kirby told ABC News "This Week."

The protesters' message is reaching Gaza, where students organized a demonstration to thank their U.S. counterparts.
They gathered around makeshift tents near a school that now serves as a shelter for displaced Palestinians on Sunday. In some images you can see them spray-painting thank-you messages on the tents.

One demonstrator, speaking to CNN, said that she was going to graduate this year from a university in Gaza, but her school was bombarded.

“Us Gazan students go through pain, and we suffer every single day, and adding to the suffering that we witness every single day we have to also work on finding maybe a way or anything to continue our future, to not lose what we learned. I try every single day to find colleges scholarships,” Nowar Diab told the network.

According to the United Nations, there have been "direct hits" on more than 200 schools in Gaza since the beginning of the war on October 7.