close
close

Universities Protests: Pro-Palestinian Protesters Retake MIT Encampment

CHICAGO (AP) — Police cleared a pro-Palestinian tent camp at the University of Chicago on Tuesday as tensions rose during standoffs with protesters on other college campuses in the U.S. — and increasingly in Europe.

Nearly three weeks after the start of a movement launched by a protest at Columbia University, the Rhode Island School of Design held talks with protesters occupying a building, and MIT addressed the issue a new encampment on a site that was cleared but immediately retaken by demonstrators.

The confrontations come as campuses try a range of strategies, from reconciliation to threats of disciplinary action, to resolve protests against the war between Israel and Hamas and pave the way for get started.

Pro-Palestinian protesters lock arms and join hands as a University of Chicago police officer holds a barricade as officers kept demonstrators off University Square as the student camp is dismantled Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Pro-Palestinian protesters lock arms and join hands as a University of Chicago police officer holds a barricade as officers kept demonstrators off University Square as the student camp is dismantled Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

At the University of Chicago, hundreds of protesters had gathered in an area known as the Quad for at least eight days. Campus administrators warned them Friday to leave the area or face removal.

Riot police blocked access to the Quad early Tuesday as law enforcement officers dismantled the camp. Officers later picked up a barricade erected to keep demonstrators out of the Quad and moved it toward the demonstrators, some of whom chanted, “On, on, liberation.” Away, away with the occupation!” Police and protesters pushed back and forth along the barricade as officers moved to regain control.

“The protesters were given the opportunity to dismantle their structures and leave the encampment, and no arrests were made,” school President Paul Alivisatos said in a message to the university community. “Disciplinary action will be taken where necessary.”

Protesters break down barricades erected outside a pro-Palestinian encampment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Several hundred demonstrators crossed the barricades to join pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had been given a warning.  deadline to leave the camp.  (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

Protesters break down barricades erected outside a pro-Palestinian encampment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Several hundred demonstrators crossed the barricades to join pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had been given a warning. deadline to leave the camp. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

By 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, the number of protesters had doubled to more than 200. About 30 minutes later, campus police removed a barricade and stepped aside to allow protesters back into the Quad, where they gathered in front of Levi Hall, the campus administration building. building.

At MIT, demonstrators were given a deadline Monday afternoon to leave voluntarily or face suspension. Many left, according to an MIT spokesperson, who said demonstrators had breached the fencing following the arrival of demonstrators from outside the university. On Monday evening, dozens of protesters remained at the encampment in a calmer atmosphere, listening to speakers and chanting before taking a pizza break.

Sam Ihns, an MIT graduate student studying mechanical engineering and a member of MIT Jews for a Ceasefire, said the group has been in the camp for two weeks and is calling for an end to the killings in Gaza.

“Specifically, our encampment protests MIT’s direct research ties to the Israeli Ministry of Defense,” he said.

No arrests had been made as of Monday evening, according to the MIT spokesperson.

At the Rhode Island School of Design, where students began occupying a building Monday, a spokesperson said the school affirms students’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and supports all members of the community. The RISD president and provost met with the protesters, the spokesperson said.

WHAT TO KNOW TUESDAY

IN GAZA: An Israeli tank brigade has taken control of the Gaza Strip side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, authorities say, as Israel threatens to launch a wider offensive in the southern city. Follow live updates.

PROPOSAL FOR A STRIKE FEAR: Hamas said on Monday it accepted a ceasefire proposal between Egypt and Qatar, but Israel said the deal did not meet its core demands and it went ahead with plans to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Still, Israel said it would continue negotiations. Here’s what’s on the table about the ceasefire talks.

ON CAMPUSES: German police broke up a protest on Tuesday by several hundred pro-Palestinian activists who had occupied a courtyard The Free University of Berlin earlier today. And in the US, police cleared a pro-Palestinian tent camp at the University of Chicago.

The student protests did that spread to Europe, where they gain strength. Police arrested around 125 activists on Tuesday when they broke up a camp at the University of Amsterdam, and German police dismantled an occupation at the Free University of Berlin. Students have also held protests or set up camps in Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France and Britain.

Many protesters want their schools divested from companies that do business with Israel or otherwise contribute to the war effort. Others simply want to draw attention to the deaths in Gaza and the end of the war.

Demonstrations at Columbia University in New York City, where the protest movement began about three weeks ago, have roiled the campus. Officials canceled the big main ceremony on Monday, but said students will be able to celebrate a series of smaller school ceremonies this week and next.

Columbia had already canceled in-person classes. More than 200 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were encamped on the green hills of Columbia occupied an academic building were arrested in recent weeks.

Similar encampments sprang up elsewhere, leaving universities struggling with where to go draw the line between allowing free speech and maintaining safe and inclusive campuses.

The University of Southern California previously canceled the main graduation ceremony. Students leave their camp at USC on Sunday after he was surrounded by police and threatened with arrest. Other universities have held graduation ceremonies with increased security. The University of Michigan The ceremony was interrupted on Saturday with a few singings.

A group of faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have asked the government for amnesty for student protesters who were recently arrested and suspended.

Harvard University’s interim president Alan Garber warned students that those staying in an encampment in Harvard Yard could face “involuntary furloughs,” meaning they would not be allowed on campus, could lose their student housing and may not be able to take exams.

At the University of California, San Diego, police cleared an encampment and arrested more than 64 people, including 40 students. The University of California, Los Angeles, has moved classes online for a week due to disruptions following the dismantling of an encampment last week, which resulted in 44 reported arrests.

Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled area, about two-thirds of whom were women and children, according to the Health Ministry. Israeli attacks have destroyed the enclave and displaced most of its residents.

___

LeBlanc reported from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Associated Press journalists from across the U.S. and around the world contributed to this report, including Jeff Amy, Christopher Weber, Mike Corder, Barbara Surk, Rick Callahan and Pietro de Cristofaro.