Many misconceptions about university anti-war protesters, Emory professor says

Noëlle McAfee said she didn't witness violence on Emory University's campus until the police showed up.
Georgia State Patrol officer detains protester at Emory University.
Posted at 3:38 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 15:38:02-04

After Emory University professor Noëlle McAfee was arrested on April 25 during an anti-war demonstration on the campus of Atlanta's Emory University, she said in the days that followed she has tried to clear up many misconceptions, in her view, of what happened as Georgia State Patrol officers descended on the campus to detain demonstrators.

Pro-Palestinian protesters reinforce barricades around their encampment.

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"The demonstration was peaceful, it was lovely and tense: and then suddenly come down the line, the Georgia State Patrol, and it was terrifying," McAfee said.

She said she saw police officers grab a woman and "start beating her."

"It was horrific," she said. She says she stood away from police while telling them to stop. McAfee says it was when she wouldn't step away at a police officer's request, that she was detained.

Protests sprung up at university campuses across the nation after New York Police cleared an encampment of demonstrators on Columbia University's campus on April 18, detaining protesters who called for theuniversity to divest from corporations supporting Israel. Days later, demonstrators at Emory University in Georgia were arrested, including students and professors as they too demanded as immediate ceasefire, and that universities with financial ties to any entity associated with the state of Israel end those ties.

A student walks to class on the campus of Emory University after a pro-Palestinian demonstration

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McAfee, chair of Emory's Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department, was among the hundreds arrested when Georgia State Patrol officers were called in to clear out the demonstrators. Video of her arrestwent viral on social media.

"The problem here is that we are supposed to be at a place where students here understand their roles as citizens of this country, and the reaction of universities is the exact opposite. It tells the wrong lesson. The role of students historically in this country has been to call out injustices and put issues on the agenda for more deliberative processes to take them up and work them out," McAfee said. "Instead of being able to do that, they're thrown in jail."

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McAfee acknowledged reports that faculty and staff have gathered together to push for a vote of no confidence aimed at the University's president.

Scripps News reached out to Emory regarding the vote, but never received a reply.
McAfee told Scripps News the university's College of Arts and Sciences appeared very likely to vote no confidence in the referendum on the university's leadership.