Pro-Palestine protests grip US universities; mass arrests

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US students protest against Gaza genocide ( Photo: X)

In a surge of pro-Palestine fervor, US universities on wednesday, reported disruption at four schools spanning Massachusetts, California, Texas, and New York.

At the University of Southern California (USC), Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), and Columbia University, discord unfolded amid divergent reactions to ongoing Israeli military actions in the Middle East.

Law enforcement intervened at USC, leading to the arrest of several protesters as tensions soared and USC DSP officers were called upon to restore order.

The US universities protests reflect widespread discontent with government policies and authorities amidst the ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict. Students have mobilized, turning their campuses into focal points for demanding accountability and an end to violence in Gaza. But what ignited this sudden wave of unrest?

Start of protests from Columbia University

Columbia University emerged as the epicenter of the nationwide protests, following its decision to involve the New York Police Department in dispersing pro-Palestinian demonstrators, triggering a chain reaction of intense demonstrations.

The turmoil at Columbia began with the arrest of 108 demonstrators, including Isra Hirsi, daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, prompting solidarity protests from institutions such as New York University, Yale University, and beyond.

The genesis of the protests can be traced back to April 17, when Columbia University President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik faced scrutiny over on-campus anti-Semitism during a congressional hearing. The subsequent police intervention escalated tensions, prompting students like Rachel, a Columbia student, to join the demonstrations, citing a growing sense of suppression and censorship.

The pro-Palestinian protests, advocating for divestment from Israeli companies and expressing solidarity with Palestinians, have resonated nationwide. Organizers view the protests as effective in urging administrations to consider divestment from Israel, despite facing pushback from conservative politicians advocating for a crackdown on demonstrators.

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