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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Emory in Atlanta is latest university to crack down on protests



A pro-Palestinian encampment at the City College of New York, on Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times)


As the demonstrators at Emory screamed, officers wrestled with protesters on the ground and escorted others away. From a few dozen yards away, onlookers stared and recorded the scene with their cellphones.


Authorities did not immediately say how many people had been arrested in Atlanta, but across the country, more than 400 protesters have been taken into police custody since April 18, when the arrests of more than 100 protesters at Columbia University in New York set off a wave of student activism nationwide.


University administrators and law enforcement officials have responded by arresting students, removing encampments and threatening academic consequences as some Jewish students have expressed concern for their safety, and some politicians have demanded a crackdown on the growing demonstrations.


Boston police arrested 108 protesters at Emerson College late Wednesday, just hours after Los Angeles police arrested 93 people on the University of Southern California campus who had refused to disperse. Earlier on Wednesday, dozens of police officers, many of them in riot gear and some on horseback, arrested 57 people at the University of Texas at Austin. In each case, it was unclear how many of the arrested demonstrators were students.


Still, new protests continue to erupt, spreading far beyond a handful of prominent universities.


At Emory, demonstrators accused police of using pepper spray or tear gas to break up the protests. The university did not immediately comment on the claims, but a spokesperson, Laura Diamond, said protesters were “activists attempting to disrupt our university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals.”


The university, Diamond added, “does not tolerate vanwdalism or other criminal activity on our campus.”


As universities struggled to quell the unrest, some lawmakers have called for stronger measures, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, who on a visit to Columbia on Wednesday asked the White House to take action and said it should eventually consider using military force.


Universities have deployed police and suspended students, under pressure from such lawmakers, as well as donors and alumni, who have called the demonstrations antisemitic.


Many student activists say they are galvanized by the clampdowns on largely peaceful protests on other campuses and the universities’ financial ties to companies that protesters say are making weapons being used on Palestinians.


There was little sign that the movement was losing steam: About 100 demonstrators set up tents at Harvard University on Wednesday night, even after the university warned that students could face discipline.


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