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After 282 arrests across US universities students refuse to capitulate, NYC mayor says those arrested are ‘outsiders’

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After hundreds of arrests across American universities tensions have escalated further. Students are refusing to capitulate and end stir over Israel’s military actions in Gaza, with incidents of arrests in New York and clashes in California.

Protesters supporting Palestinians in Gaza walk at an encampment at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 1, 2024.(REUTERS)

282 arrested at premiere colleges in New York

In New York City, the NYPD recorded approximately 282 arrests at Columbia University and the City College of New York from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. This crackdown coincided with the clearance of students who had occupied Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall since April 30.

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Once a symbol of activism during South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, Hamilton Hall was dubbed “Hind’s Hall” in memory of six-year-old Hind Rajab, tragically killed with her family by Israeli forces in Gaza.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has claimed many of those behind the protest were “outside agitators” who had no association with the university. Young protesters “are being influenced by those who are professionals at radicalizing our children,” Adams said.

Student journalist Meghnad Bose who witnessed the police intervention firsthand told ANI, “I saw firsthand how the police dispersed those protests, arrested them and sometimes got pretty aggressive in making sure the protesters went away.”

Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the NYPD, Kaz Daughtry, emphasized Columbia University’s request for police assistance in reclaiming their campus, stating that the police were “dispersing the unlawful encampment and persons barricaded inside of university buildings and restoring order.”

Meanwhile, at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), tensions soared as pro-Israel counter-protesters clashed with pro-Palestine demonstrators. Witnesses reported attempts to dismantle the pro-Palestine encampment, leading to violence with objects being hurled and sticks wielded.

In response to escalating violence at UCLA, the Los Angeles Police Department intervened at the university’s request, addressing multiple incidents of aggression within the encampment.

Despite the turmoil, pro-Palestine demonstrators at UCLA remained steadfast, with reporter Rob Reynolds highlighting their resilience amid adversity.

Why are students protesting at US universities?

The surge in protests across US campuses followed heightened tensions after Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on October 7 and the extended Israeli military campaign in Gaza, resulting in significant Palestinian casualties.

These recent protests gained momentum nearly two weeks prior, sparked by criticism of Columbia University President Minouche Shafik’s testimony before a US congressional committee. Critics accused Shafik of prioritizing lawmakers’ interests over those of the university’s students.

Protesters demanded divestment from Israel and companies associated with the conflict, criticizing administrators for exploiting public safety concerns and weaponizing accusations of anti-Semitism to suppress dissent.

Arrests extended beyond New York, with 14 protesters detained at Tulane University in New Orleans, alongside arrests at the University of South Florida and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass denounced the violence at UCLA as abhorrent and inexcusable. New York City Mayor Eric Adams defended the police crackdown, attributing the protests at Columbia University to individuals unaffiliated with the institution.

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