New Police Crackdowns at University of Southern California, University of Texas

Austin, MINA – Student-led protests demanding universities condemn Israel’s war on Gaza and divest from Israeli firms continued to swell Wednesday with new encampments being erected in the face of law enforcement crackdowns, Anadolu Agency reports.

Over a dozen arrests were reported at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California on Wednesday with the protests ongoing at both campuses.

At least 17 people were taken into custody at the University of Texas at Austin campus, according to the Texas Tribune newspaper, after protesters were warned by state troopers in riot gear that they would be charged with criminal trespass if they did not abandon an encampment they set up Wednesday morning.

Law enforcement staged a similar crackdown at a just-established encampment at the University of Southern California’s Alumni Park, but it is unclear how many arrests were made there. At least one person who was placed in a police car was released after protesters surrounded the vehicle and did not allow it to move.

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“Let him go,” the crowd chanted, according to a video posted on social media, before police ultimately released the individual.

The arrests are just the latest in hundreds that have taken place on campuses nationwide, including at Columbia, Yale, New York University and the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Wednesday saw more encampments form on additional college campuses, including at Brown University in Rhode Island, the University of Maryland – College Park outside of Washington, D.C., and at Harvard where administrators had been taking a series of measures intended to ensure that one not be established.

That included closing the eponymous Harvard Yard, and requiring school identification from individuals seeking to enter campus.

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Last week’s decision by Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to ask the New York Police Department to arrest dozens of protesters has largely served as a flashpoint for the wider protest movement.

Thursday’s arrests of over 100 people incensed students who have been stridently seeking an immediate cease-fire to end the bloodshed in Gaza and emboldened a new wave of protesters.

At Columbia, protesters defiantly changed tactics and quickly moved to a lawn adjacent to the original “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” cleared by police. They were joined on Tuesday by Palestinian photographer Motaz Azaiza, whose work chronicled the grim realities of the war in Gaza, and Najla Said, the daughter of late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said.

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Their tactics were quickly adopted by other demonstrators seeking to circumvent restrictions, but arrests have continued, including at New York University where over 130 people were arrested overnight Monday.

Protests have been reported at a wide array of campuses from California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt; Yale University; University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; Swarthmore College and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; the University of Rochester in New York; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Emerson College in Massachusetts, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)