US Police Arrest Dozens From Pro-Palestinian University Encampment: Report

On Tuesday, Joe Biden condemned a “ferocious surge” in anti-Semitism.

Washington:

Washington police cleared an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters at George Washington University on Wednesday, authorities said, making several pre-dawn arrests.

Just after 4:00 am (0800), hundreds of officers moved in on a university quad, making arrests and using pepper spray, the student-run GW Hatchet newspaper reported. CNN said around three dozen people were arrested.

Police remained on the scene around 10:00 am, an AFP reporter saw, as tents were being dragged toward a garbage truck and a student held a poster reading “Free Palestine” on the sidewalk.

The arrests came as the mayor and police chief from the nation’s capital were expected to testify in front of Congress later in the day about why the encampment — which had entered its second week — had taken so long to clear.

However, after the encampment was cleared, Republicans who control the House Oversight Committee said they were canceling the hearing.

“It was unfortunate the situation at GW forced the Oversight Committee to act; however it was apparent that the DC police force was not going to do their job,” Representative James Comer said in a statement.

The police department said in a statement that it had tried to “deescalate tensions” without arrests, but that based on “incidents and information, there has been a gradual escalation in the volatility of the protest.”

Campus protests have sprung up across the country in recent weeks, with students demonstrating against the war in Gaza and calling on universities to cut direct or indirect financial ties with US weapons manufacturers and Israeli institutions.

The at-times raucous rallies have rocked colleges. Some Jewish students have reported threats and anti-Semitism, while pro-Israel counter-protesters at the University of California, Los Angeles, physically attacked demonstrators at an encampment.

Both President Joe Biden and universities have tried to walk a fine line between free speech rights and concerns about intimidation.

On Tuesday, Biden condemned a “ferocious surge” in anti-Semitism in a speech at the Capitol, saying “there’s no place on any campus in America — any place in America — for anti-Semitism or hate speech or threats of violence of any kind.”

Demonstrators — including some Jewish student organizers — have said they denounced acts of anti-Semitism, and accuse their detractors of conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

They’ve also criticized what they say is a heavy handed police response — with more than 2,000 students arrested nationwide — and said harassment of Muslims, Palestinians and Jewish students opposed to the war are being ignored.

The unrest has continued into spring graduation ceremonies, where at the University of Michigan students unfurled Palestinian flags and launched into chants.

Columbia, the epicenter of the demonstrations, on Monday canceled its main graduation ceremony.

The Ivy League school in New York, where at least 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested last week, cited security concerns.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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