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White House calls for pro-Palestinian protests amid arrests at US universities

White House calls for pro-Palestinian protests amid arrests at US universities
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
Apr 28, 2024 6:42 PM

White House emphasizes the importance of maintaining peace during pro-Palestinian demonstrations in US universities, following the arrests of around 275 individuals at four campuses

The White House emphasized Sunday the importance of maintaining peace during pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have surged across U.S. universities in recent weeks, following the arrests of approximately 275 individuals at four separate campuses over the weekend.

“We certainly respect the right of peaceful protests,” stated National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on ABC’s “This Week.”

However, Kirby emphasized the administration’s condemnation of recent instances of anti-Semitism and hate speech, stating: “We absolutely condemn the anti-Semitism language that we’ve heard of late and certainly condemn all the hate speech and the threats of violence out there.”

The wave of protests initially began at Columbia University in New York but has since rapidly spread throughout the nation. While many demonstrations have remained peaceful, the number of individuals detained by authorities, sometimes utilizing riot gear and chemical irritants, continues to rise.

Arrests occurred at Northeastern University in Boston, where 100 individuals were detained, 80 at Washington University in St Louis, 72 at Arizona State University, and 23 at Indiana University.

Among those arrested at Washington University was Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who criticized police tactics, attributing them to escalating tensions rather than mitigating them.

“This is about freedom of speech… on a very critical issue,” Stein conveyed to CNN before her arrest on Saturday. “And there they are, sending in the riot police and creating a riot.”

College administrators face a delicate balance between upholding free speech rights and addressing inflammatory and potentially violent rhetoric during these protests.

At the University of Southern California, officials closed the main campus to the public Saturday after pro-Palestinian groups re-established an encampment that had been previously removed.

With final exams approaching, some campuses, including the Humboldt campus of California State Polytechnic University, have transitioned to online instruction due to the unrest.

The activists leading these demonstrations, not all of whom are students, advocate for a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with Hamas and demand that colleges sever ties with Israel.

The recent escalation in tensions follows Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in approximately 1,170 deaths, according to Israeli official figures compiled by Agence France-Presse (AFP.)

Palestinian militants also took around 250 individuals hostage, with Israel reporting 129 still held captive in Gaza, including 34 confirmed dead.

Israel’s retaliatory measures have led to an estimated 34,454 deaths in Gaza, predominantly civilians, according to figures from the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:49 PM