Police detain 100 as pro-Palestinian camp cleared at US university

Northeastern University in Boston says the action was taken after some protesters resorted to virulent anti-Semitic slurs

By AFP

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Police watch as pro-Palestinian protesters create a human chain around an encampment set up at Northeastern University in Boston. — AFP file
Police watch as pro-Palestinian protesters create a human chain around an encampment set up at Northeastern University in Boston. — AFP file

Published: Sat 27 Apr 2024, 7:22 PM

Police in riot gear detained about 100 people as they cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment at a Boston university on Saturday, the latest in a series of clashes on US campuses triggered by protests over Israel's war against Hamas.

The action was taken after some protesters resorted to "virulent anti-Semitic slurs, including 'Kill the Jews,'" Northeastern University said in a statement on social media platform X.


The campus protests have posed a major challenge to university administrators across the country who are trying to balance commitments to free expression with complaints that the rallies have veered into anti-Semitism and hate speech.

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Police have carried out large-scale arrests at universities in recent days, at times using chemical irritants and tasers to disperse demonstrators.

In its statement, Northeastern said campus police backed by local law enforcement moved in Saturday to clear "an unauthorised encampment" on the campus.

"What began as a student demonstration two days ago was infiltrated by professional organisers with no affiliation to Northeastern," the school said.

It added that detained individuals who produced a valid school ID have been released and will face disciplinary proceedings, not legal action.

"Those who refused to disclose their affiliation were arrested," the school said.

Tensions were also escalating on Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania, where the college president ordered a campus encampment to be disbanded immediately after what he said were "credible reports of harassing and intimidating conduct".

Meanwhile, Columbia University in New York, where the protests originated, announced on Friday that it would not be calling police back to campus after more than 100 people were arrested last week.

"To bring back the NYPD at this time would be counterproductive, further inflaming what is happening on campus, and drawing thousands to our doorstep who would threaten our community," the leaders of the school said in a statement, referring to the New York Police Department.

The decision was made even as Columbia signalled it had barred from campus Khymani James, a leader of the campus protests who had said in a video in January that "Zionists don't deserve to live," and "Be grateful that I'm not just going out and murdering Zionists."

"Chants, signs, taunts and social media posts from our own students that mock and threaten to 'kill' Jewish people are totally unacceptable, and Columbia students who are involved in such incidents will be held accountable," the school said.

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