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Arrests of Israel-Hamas war protesters exceed 2,300 as police clear more US campus encampments

By KAREN MATTHEWS, MICHAEL HILL, JULIE WATSON and CHRISTOPHER L. KELLER (Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) — Police ordered pro-Palestinian protesters to abandon a tent encampment at New York University early Friday, following weeks of demonstrations and police crackdowns at college campuses nationwide that have resulted in more than 2,300 arrests.

About a dozen protesters who refused police orders to leave were arrested and about 30 more left voluntarily, according to NYU spokesperson John Beckman. The school asked the New York Police Department to intervene “to minimize the likelihood of injury” and disruption, Beckman said.

Classes will proceed as scheduled on Friday, he said. A larger NYU encampment was dismantled on April 22, when more than 130 protesters were arrested.

Tent encampments of protesters calling on universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support the war in Gaza have spread across U.S. campuses in a student movement unlike any other this century.

Israel has branded the protests antisemitic, while Israel’s critics say it uses those allegations to silence opposition. Although some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, protest organizers — some of whom are Jewish — call it a peaceful movement to defend Palestinian rights and protest the war.

President Joe Biden has defended the students’ right to protest peacefully but decried the violence and disruption of campus life.

NYPD officers on Friday also cleared an encampment at The New School in Greenwich Village, where students were not able to attend classes in at least two buildings because of the protesters. Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry posted on the social platform X that the school asked the department to disperse the protesters.

Video posted by Daughtry shows dozens of helmeted officers massed outside the school. No arrests were announced.

Authorities said a further 133 protesters were arrested when police broke up a pro-Palestinian encampment at the State University of New York at New Paltz starting late Thursday, while nine protesters were also arrested at the University of Tennessee. Chancellor Donde Plowman said Friday that seven of those arrested are students who will also be sanctioned under the school’s code of conduct.

The student protest movement began April 17 at Columbia University, where student protesters built an encampment to call for an end to the Israel-Hamas war. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict in the Gaza Strip, according to the Health Ministry there. Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after Oct. 7, when Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages in an attack on southern Israel.

More than 100 people were arrested late Tuesday when police broke up the Columbia encampment. One officer accidentally discharged his gun inside Hamilton Hall during that operation, but no one was injured, NYPD said late Thursday. He was trying to use the flashlight attached to his gun but instead fired a single round that struck a frame on the wall, police said.

At University of California, Los Angeles, more than 200 people were taken into custody early Thursday, after hundreds of protesters defied orders to leave, some forming human chains as police fired flash-bangs to break up the crowds. Police tore apart a fortified encampment’s barricade of plywood, pallets, metal fences and dumpsters, then pulled down canopies and tents.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block told alumni on a call Thursday afternoon that administrators tried to find a peaceful solution and that things had been stable on campus until counterdemonstrators attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment late Tuesday.

Campus administrators and police did not intervene or call for backup for hours. No one was arrested that night, but at least 15 protesters were injured.

By Wednesday, the encampment had become “much more of a bunker” and there was no other solution but to have police dismantle it, Block said. Officers warned over loudspeakers that there would be arrests if the crowd did not disperse. Hundreds left voluntarily, while another 200-plus remained and were arrested.

Arrests have been made during at least 58 crackdowns on protesters at 44 colleges or universities since April 18, according to figures based on Associated Press reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.

University of Minnesota officials reached an agreement with protesters not to disrupt commencements, and similar compromises have been made at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago, Rutgers University in New Jersey and Brown University in Rhode Island.

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Matthews reported from New York City, Hill from Altamont, New York, Watson from San Diego and Keller from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Associated Press journalists around the country contributed to this report, including Carolyn Thompson, Kavish Harjai, Krysta Fauria, Leslie Ambriz, John Antczak, Lisa Baumann, Jae C. Hong, Colleen Long, Sarah Brumfield, Philip Marcelo, Steve Karnowski, Cedar Attanasio and Gene Johnson.


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