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In the United States, pro-Palestinian students seek a new lease of life after mass arrests

The pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have been shaking American campuses for several weeks are looking for new life, after dispersals by the police, mass arrests and a harsh reminder to continue. order by the White House.

Early Friday, police smoothly dismantled an encampment at New York University (NYU), at the school's request.

At the University of Chicago, the administration, which reported on X “information about physical altercations” on its campus, indicated in a press release that in the absence of an agreement with the protesters, the moment came to disperse the gathering.

The police were present on the scene on Friday. In images circulating on social networks, we could see demonstrators and counter-protesters facing each other.

On other campuses, the police have intervened manu militari in recent days, such as at Columbia in New York and at UCLA in Los Angeles.

Nearly 2,000 people in total were arrested, according to a report established by several American media.

Highly criticized by students and within the teaching staff for having called the police twice to intervene – images which went around the world – the president of Columbia, Minouche Shafik, spoke of the “turmoil” in her establishment.

“These last two “We have had some of the most difficult weeks in Columbia's history,” she said in a video posted Friday on social media, saying the student occupation of a building had been “a violent act.” .

“We have much to do, but I am committed to working every day and with each of you to rebuild the community on our campus,” she added.

In the United States, pro-Palestinian students seek a new lease of life after mass arrests

At the University of Chicago on May 3, 2024 © AFP – Alex Wroblewski

Since April 17, a new wave of mobilization for Gaza has swept across American campuses, evoking, on a lesser scale, the demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s.

< p>In addition to demanding an end to the conflict in Gaza, these students call on universities to break their relations with Israel and disengage from their investments linked to this country.

They also denounce the almost unconditional support of the United States for their ally.

Israel is engaged in a massive offensive in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the Hamas attack on its soil on October 7.

– Vietnam –

Thursday, during a short speech, Democratic President Joe Biden, long silent on the demonstrations, insisted that “order must prevail”.

< p>This earned him both criticism from the right, who considered him too complacent, and indignation from supporters of the demonstrators.

“There is a right to demonstrate, not a right to cause chaos,” said the octogenarian, candidate against Republican Donald Trump in the November presidential election.

In the United States, pro-Palestinian students seek a new lease of life after mass arrests

Camp of pro-Palestinian students on the George Washington University camps, May 3, 2024 in Washington © AFP – Brendan Smialowski

His Minister of Education, Miguel Cardona, sent a letter to university leaders in which he said he was “incredibly concerned by reports of anti-Semitic hatred against students on certain campuses,” according to CNN. “.

The demonstrations have revived the debate in the United States, already tense and even violent since the Hamas attack, on freedom of expression, anti-Zionism and which constitutes anti-Semitism.

On the one hand, students and teachers accuse their universities of seeking to censor political speech, on the other hand several personalities, including elected representatives of Congress, assert that activists fuel anti-Semitism.

The issue could undermine Mr. Biden's race for the White House.

“This could be Biden's Vietnam,” left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders warned on CNN.

“I really fear that President Biden is putting himself in a position where he alienates not only young people, but a large part of the Democratic base”, he added.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump described the demonstrators of “crazy radical leftists”, who must “stop now”.

In the United States, pro-Palestinian students seek a new lease of life after mass arrests

Pro-Palestinian students confront police at Portland State University, May 2, 2024 in Oregon © AFP – John Rudoff

The mobilization inspired pro-Palestinian activists across the world, in France, as in the prestigious Parisian school Sciences Po, or at McGill University in Canada and at UNAM in Mexico.< /p>

Contrary to other institutions, Brown University, in the American state of Rhode Island, agreed with the demonstrators on the dismantling of their encampment in exchange for a vote on a possible “divestment”.


All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116