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Protests escalate in US; students raise Palestinian flag at Harvard



Harvard University (Photo: Bloomberg)

Protests escalated across college and university campuses throughout the United States on Monday. At Harvard University, protestors raised a Palestinian flag in a location typically designated for the American flag.

According to a report in The Indian Express (IE), three protestors raised the Palestinian flags above the John Harvard statue in the Yard, a location where the University occasionally displays the American flag or flags representing visiting foreign dignitaries.

These protests come against the backdrop of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza after Hamas launched an attack on Israel on October 7. The attack had left over 1,000 Israelis dead. Israel has so far killed over 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the IE reported.

Jonathan L Swain, Harvard spokesperson, referred to the raising of the flags as “a violation to University policy” and stated that the “individuals involved will be subject to disciplinary action.”

Demonstrations so far

At the University of California, Los Angeles, demonstrators from opposing sides shouted and attacked each other during Sunday’s protests.

Following altercations among protesters, the University heightened security measures, according to Mary Osaka, Vice-Chancellor for UCLA Strategic Communications.

Police put up barricades on Sunday before hundreds of demonstrators from both sides converged near tents where pro-Palestinian students have maintained a continuous presence. Arriving for a rally titled ‘Stand in Support of Jewish Students’, pro-Israeli demonstrators expressed their intention to ‘stand up against hatred and antisemitism’.

Last week, as many as 275 pro-Palestinian protesters were detained at multiple campuses, including the Indiana University at Bloomington, the Northeastern University in Boston, and the Arizona State University.

Nearly 900 arrests have occurred, following the removal of a pro-Palestinian protest encampment by the New York police at the Columbia University, where over 100 protesters were detained on April 18, the IE report stated.

Demands of the protesters

The demands of the students include:

– Cease conducting business with manufacturers of military weapons who supply arms to Israel

– Stop receiving research funding from Israel for projects that contribute to the country’s military endeavors

– Discontinue investing college endowments with financial managers who benefit from Israeli companies or contractors

– Enhance transparency regarding the sources and purposes of funding received from Israel

US administration’s response to the protests

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that President Joe Biden “knows that there are very strong feelings” but would leave managing the protests to local authorities.

John Kirby, White House national security spokesman, said President Joe Biden acknowledges the intensity of emotions involved but would leave managing the protests to local authorities. 

First Published: Apr 29 2024 | 4:10 PM IST

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