Monday, May 27, 2024

After Columbia, Pro-Palestine protests expand to major US universities

Students of major universities in the United States have launched pro-Palestinian protests demanding divestment from companies involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and “genocide” in Gaza. The arrest and suspension of Columbia University students triggered the mobilisation in the Ivy League institutions.

Police have also arrested staff and students protesting at New York University after similar crackdowns at Columbia University and Yale University.

Academics and scholars have vowed to boycott Columbia University over its repressive policies against protesting students. On Monday, there was a massive faculty walkout at Columbia opposing the university’s decision to call in NYPD on Palestine solidarity protests.

According to MiddleEast Eye, student encampments have popped up at the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT); Tufts and Emerson in Boston; New York University and The New School in New York City; Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee; Yale University in Connecticut; University of California-Berkeley; The University of Michigan; Washington University in St Louis; and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Over 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by US-backed Israeli troops. Nearly 15,000 of them are children.

In a statement on Monday, Columbia University president Minouche Shafik—who last week enabled NYPD arrests of students at the encampment—announced in her first statement since the sweep that all classes would be virtual “to deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps.”

The protests at Columbia, reminiscent of the demonstrations held there against the Vietnam War more than 50 years ago, are the latest in a series of protests disrupting university campuses, bridges and airports since Israel launched its genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza.

At least 108 students from Columbia were arrested on Thursday and around 85 students from Columbia University and Barnard College have since been suspended for taking part in the direct action.

At Yale University, 47 students were arrested on Monday for refusing to dismantle their camp.

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