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College protests live updates: 93 arrested at USC

todayApril 25, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — Protests have broken out at colleges and universities across the country in connection with the war in Gaza.

Many pro-Palestinian protesters are calling for their colleges to divest of funds from Israeli military operations, while some Jewish students on the campuses have called the protests antisemitic and said they are scared for their safety.

The student protests — some of which have turned into around-the-clock encampments — have erupted throughout the nation following arrests and student removals at Columbia University in New York City. Students at schools including Yale University, New York University, Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California and more have launched protests.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Apr 25, 1:11 AM
93 arrested following protest at USC

Police arrested 93 people on and around the University of Southern California campus, mostly on misdemeanor trespass Wednesday night.

The university declared the campus closed in the afternoon, open only to students with their USC IDs at pedestrian gates, due to what USC said “significant activity at the center of campus.”

On Wednesday night, LAPD Captain Kelly Muniz told ABC News that around 35 protesters had been processed for misdemeanor trespass. Several dozen more were waiting to be processed, Muniz said.

There was an altercation in one portion of the protest area that resulted in one arrest for assault with a deadly weapon, according to Muniz.

There are no known injuries to police or protesters.

The scene will be cleared some time tonight., Muniz said.

Apr 24, 10:59 PM
At least 34 arrested at UT Austin

At least 34 people had been arrested at the University of Texas at Austin as of 9 p.m. local time, according to the Texas Department of Safety.

“Today, our University held firm, enforcing our rules while protecting the Constitutional right to free speech. Peaceful protests within our rules are acceptable,” University President Jay Hartzell said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“Breaking our rules and policies and disrupting others’ ability to learn are not allowed. The group that led this protest stated it was going to violate Institutional Rules. Our rules matter, and they will be enforced. Our University will not be occupied,” Hartzell said.

“There is a way to exercise freedom of speech and civil discourse, and our Office of the Dean of Students has continued to offer ways to ensure protests can happen within the rules,” Hartzell continued.

The dispersal order ended shortly after 9 p.m. and the campus was deemed “all clear,” Austin Police said on X.

Apr 24, 9:08 PM
Dispersal order issued at USC amid protests

Campus police have issued a dispersal order at the University of Southern California amid ongoing protests over the Israel-Hamas war.

LAPD officers have surrounded Alumni Park on campus, and while much of the crowd has dispersed, an estimated group of 50 protesters remain in the park.

In an update shared on X Wednesday evening, the university’s Department of Public Safety said, “If you are in the center of campus, please leave; LAPD will be arresting people who don’t disperse.”

Apr 24, 7:11 PM
House Speaker calls on Columbia president to resign if she can’t control protests

During a visit to Columbia University, House Speaker Mike Johnson joined his New York House Republican colleagues in calling on the school’s president, Minouche Shafik, to resign unless she can improve what he called her failure to handle the anti-Israel protests on campus.

During the news conference on the university’s campus, Johnson said Shafik should step down “if she can’t immediately bring order to this chaos.”

“As speaker of the House, I am committing today that the Congress will not be silent as Jewish students are expected to run for their lives and stay home from — fighting in fear,” Johnson said.

The scene at the news conference was rowdy itself, as Johnson and other House Republicans got booed and heckled throughout — their words sometimes nearly drowned out by shouting from the crowd.

Shafik, who met with Johnson on Wednesday, and the rest of the university administration are committed to ensuring the safety of the campus community and ending the encampment, Columbia spokesman Ben Chang said in a briefing with reporters later on Wednesday.

Apr 24, 6:44 PM
USC updates community on protest, campus shutdown

Andrew T. Guzman, the provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Southern California, sent a letter to the school’s students, faculty and other members with an update on the situation taking place on campus.

Guzman reiterated the university “values freedom of expression and protects the right of every member of our community to express themselves,” but added, “We have well-established policies regarding limits on the time, place, and manner of free expression.”

Guzman said the call to shut down the campus stemmed from a confrontation between protesters outside the Doheny Library and security. Security members asked the protesters, many of whom Guzman said weren’t affiliated with USC, to leave and remove tents they set up, but the protesters refused, according to the school.

“Their actions have escalated to the point of confrontation and have threatened the safety of our officers and campus community,” Guzman said.

Until further notice, only people with “USC identification or verifiable business purpose will be able to access campus, attend classes, and participate in activities” will be allowed on campus, according to Guzman.

“In these challenging times, we call on the Trojan Family to remember that every member of our community is deserving of respect, has the right to be safe on campus, take classes, and participate in other campus activities without fear of harassment or bullying. It should be everyone’s priority to treat each other with kindness and care,” he said.

Apr 24, 6:09 PM
Columbia administrators deny rumors of National Guard deployment

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik and administrators said they are committed to ensuring the campus community’s safety and ending the encampment following their meeting with House Speaker Mike Johnson, a school spokesman told the press.

Ben Chang, the school’s vice president of the Office of Public Affairs, told reporters that the encampment on the west lawn has raised serious safety concerns, but the university has been in a dialogue with students on ending it and those discussions will be “successful.”

He refuted rumors that the National Guard would become involved and called those reports false and “unsubstantiated.” Chang said that the university has been in contact with the NYPD and will continue to be going forward.

The university will have to consider “alternative options” to end the encampment in time for graduation, according to Chang.

Protesters so far have already committed to dismantling “a significant number” of tents and only Columbia students will be involved in the encampment at this point, he added.

For the time being, the Morningside campus will only be open for people with a Columbia ID, Chang said.

Apr 24, 6:06 PM
At least 20 arrested at UT Austin

At least 20 people have been arrested at the University of Texas at Austin, according to the school.

“UT Austin does not tolerate disruptions of campus activities or operations like we have seen at other campuses,” the UT Division of Student Affairs said in a statement. “This is an important time in our semester with students finishing classes and studying for finals and we will act first and foremost to allow those critical functions to proceed without interruption.”

The University of Texas at Austin’s Office of the Dean of Students sent a letter to the Palestine Solidarity Committee Tuesday night saying the protest was not allowed to take place.

“The Palestine Solidarity Committee student organization’s event ‘Popular University for Gaza,’ which is planned for tomorrow, has declared intent to violate our policies and rules, and disrupt our campus operations. Such disruptions are never allowed and are especially damaging while our students prepare for the end of the semester and final exams. For these reasons, this event may not proceed as planned,” the letter, obtained by ABC News, stated.

Apr 24, 5:34 PM
White House condemns antisemitism, defends free speech on college campuses

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed on Wednesday the ongoing student protests taking place at Columbia University and other colleges across the country.

During the daily press briefing, Jean-Pierre reiterated the administration’s condemnation of antisemitism.

“When we see violent rhetoric, we have to call that out. When we see physical intimidation or grotesque antisemitic remarks, we have to speak that out,” she told reporters.

When asked whether the administration shares the view of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who called on the president of Columbia University to resign, Jean-Pierre declined to comment saying, “Columbia is a private institution.”

“That is obviously the speaker’s privilege to speak for himself and what he sees,” she said.

“This is a deeply painful, painful moment for many communities, and we understand that. But the president believes that free speech debate and nondiscrimination on college campuses are important. They’re important American values,” Jean-Pierre said.

Apr 24, 4:50 PM
USC closes campus to public as protesters clash with police

The University of Southern California said it will be closing its campus to the public with “significant activity at the center of the [main] campus due to a demonstration,” it said in a post on X.

“The gates are closed, so anyone coming to campus should be prepared to show an ID at the gates for class or for business,” USC said.

Apr 24, 4:21 PM
USC pro-Palestinian rally turns chaotic after police confront protesters: KABC

A rally by pro-Palestinian protesters at USC became chaotic after campus police confronted people who tried to set up an encampment at the school’s Alumni Park, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV. The university’s commencement ceremony is scheduled to occur in Alumni Park on May 10.

Last week, USC canceled the valedictorian’s speech out of safety concerns considering her pro-Palestinian views, sparking backlash. The student, Asna Tabassum, is a first-generation South Asian-American Muslim who majored in biomedical engineering and minored in resistance to genocide, according to a statement published through the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Dozens of students and others have issued a list of demands, including the university’s divestment, similar to demands from students on other campuses, according to KABC.

USC police officers began attempting to clear the encampment of tents and signs before Los Angeles Police Department officers joined the effort, according to KABC

Apr 24, 3:57 PM
Harvard University students begin encampment in Harvard Yard

Pro-Palestinian students at Harvard University began an encampment in Harvard Yard on Wednesday, despite the university closing it through Friday.

The encampment comes after Harvard suspended the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee — an on-campus group that has been under a spotlight — amid debates on campuses over the war. The ACLU of Massachusetts, which represents the group, has called for the university to lift the suspension.

Students and student workers released a statement Wednesday announcing their encampment, calling for the university to divest and accusing it of “relentlessly suppress[ing] voices in its community speaking out against the actions of the Israeli state and for the rights of the Palestinian people,” the suspended group said in a statement on Instagram.

The group is also demanding that the university “drop all its charges against students for their organizing and activism, and commit to ending the weaponization of disciplinary policy,” the statement said.

Apr 24, 3:45 PM
Troopers call for protesters to disperse at UT Austin

Students at the University of Texas at Austin began protesting on campus calling for a divestment, resembling encampments set up at Columbia and Yale University. A similar encampment was set up at New York University before police arrested over 130 students and faculty Monday.

Texas State Troopers were seen marching through campus calling for protesters to disperse.

“Early on Monday, we learned of a plan for a large-scale anti-Israel protest on our UT campus during Passover,” Texas Hillel, the center for Jewish Life on campus, said in a statement on Instagram. “The timing of this protest is not lost on us – making use of a Jewish holiday and observance to promote a hateful agenda – and we quickly contacted our university and security partners to begin coordinating a response plan to keep our campus and our students safe.”

Austin’s Palestine Solidarity Committee wrote on Instagram that “students were welcomed by a draconian police presence, refusing to allow them to use their campus space for political speech.”

The Austin Police Department told ABC News its role is only in assisting the UT Police Department, the main agency responding to the campus events. Austin police noted that the Texas Department of Public Safety is also assisting.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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