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47 Yale University students arrested during pro-Palestinian protest

The students had been camped out on campus for three days to push the university to divest from military weapons manufacturers.
47 Yale University students arrested during pro-Palestinian protest
Posted at 7:01 PM, Apr 22, 2024

Dozens of Yale University students protesting in support of Palestinians were arrested Monday in another show of escalating tensions within campus communities of the nation's top universities.

Daily demonstrations began last week at Yale's Beinecke Plaza to push the university to divest from military weapons manufacturers. Then on Friday, the group, which calls itself Occupy Beinecke, set up an encampment.

But after their third night, some protesters were greeted around 7 a.m. Monday morning by officers "flipping up the entrances" to their tents, student-run news site Yale Daily News reported. Other officers reportedly told students if they didn't leave the plaza immediately they would be arrested, and minutes later, officers began their arrests, the site reported.

While about 300 protesters stood nearby with their arms interlocked, blocking traffic and chanting statements like "Free our prisoners, free them all, Zionism must fall" and "Look your students in the eyes, you're supporting genocide," according to Yale Daily News, police shuttled arrested demonstrators away from the plaza and removed tents, while Yale employees were seen taking down fliers. Within an hour, no protesters remained on the plaza. 

At least 47 students were among the 60 people arrested and released on misdemeanor charges of first-degree trespassing, the university said in a statement. It also said the group would be referred for Yale disciplinary action, which could include sanctions like probation or suspension. 

The university said it had notified protesters "numerous times" that police could get involved if they continued to violate the school's policies regarding "occupying outdoor spaces." This included an hourslong discussion Sunday night in which the university said protesters could meet with trustees if they vacated the plaza before the next morning. 

But Occupy Beinecke said Yale only offered to "disseminate already-public" information about their investments in military weapons manufacturing, so "after being given only 10 minutes to decide," the students rejected the offer, choosing to stay at the encampment until their demands were met.

The group said only one arrest warning was given to protesters Monday morning despite police previously indicating they'd be given three.

"Police also refused to allow arrestees to collect medication and other necessities," Occupy Beinecke wrote on Instagram. "When asked onsite what protesters were doing wrong, police refused to give an answer."

Meanwhile, Yale University President Peter Salovey said in a statement Monday that the decision to arrest came after reports of harmful acts and threatening language coming from the site. He said arrests were made after police gave protesters "several opportunities" to leave voluntarily, but 60 did not.

"We will not tolerate such behavior nor any open violation of Yale policies that interrupts academic and campus operations," his statement read. "So, we acted consistently with the warnings we had given over several days and escorted the protesters from the plaza."

SEE MORE: Columbia University goes virtual amid pro-Palestinian protests

As with many recent disbandments of campus protests, the university says the action was made to protect safety and to fight budding antisemitism, which some Jewish students say has risen with similar demonstrations. But many demonstrators say they have a right to peacefully protest for Palestinian rights and against Zionism, and that those rights have been wronged by administrator action.

Columbia University President Nemat Minouche Shafik testified last week on claims she allowed her school to become a hotbed of hate and antisemitism. She said Monday that the school's classes would move online to "deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps." The message came days after more than 100 of the university's students were arrested for their involvement in a similar encampment. 

Also Monday, hundreds of protesters at New York University told to vacate a campus plaza stood against police, and there were reports of other encampments at Boston-area universities and at the University of Michigan.

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