Campus Speech | Protest

A Look at the Gaza War Protests That Have Emerged on US College Campuses

College students protest on University of Michigan campus
A coalition of University of Michigan students rally at an encampment in the Diag to pressure the university to divest its endowment from companies that support Israel or could profit from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, on the University of Michigan college campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 22, 2024. (Reuters/Rebecca Cook)

By The Associated Press

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up at many college campuses following the arrest of demonstrators this month at Columbia University.

The students are calling for universities to separate themselves from companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza, and in some cases from Israel itself. Police have arrested hundreds nationwide since early detainments at Columbia on April 18.

Officials are trying to resolve the protests as the academic year winds down, but students have dug in at several high-profile universities. Standoffs appeared to be coming to a head late Monday and early Tuesday as police cleared encampments and arrested demonstrators at many campuses.

As cease-fire negotiations appear to gain steam, it isn’t clear whether those talks might inspire campus protesters to ease their efforts.

A look at protests on campuses:


Pro-Palestinian student protesters set up a tent encampment at the Ivy League university in New York this month. Police first tried to clear the encampment April 18, when they arrested more than 100 protesters. But the move motivated Columbia protesters to regroup. The demonstrations led Columbia to hold remote classes and set a series of deadlines for protesters to leave the encampment.

Although the university said it was beginning to suspend student protesters who defied an ultimatum to leave the encampment there by a Monday afternoon deadline, Columbia activists defied the deadline and protest organizers said they were not aware of any suspensions as of Monday evening.

Early Tuesday, dozens of protesters took over an academic building at Columbia, barricading the entrances and unfurling a Palestinian flag out a window. Protesters locked arms in front of Hamilton Hall and carried furniture and metal barricades to the building. Columbia responded by restricting access to campus.

Commencement is set for May 15. Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, faced a significant, but largely symbolic, rebuke from faculty Friday but retains the support of trustees.


Dozens of police officers in helmets and carrying batons marched onto the Northern California campus early Tuesday and cleared two buildings occupied by protesters. The university said 34 people were arrested and there were no injuries.

The university earlier announced a “hard closure,” meaning that people were not permitted to enter or be on campus without authorization.

The university’s website posted a shelter-in-place order for the campus early Tuesday because of “continuing criminal activity on campus.”


Yale University and New Haven police surrounded the encampment in the Cross Campus quad with caution tape starting around 6 a.m. Tuesday and said that anyone inside the blocked-off area would be subject to arrest and suspension if they did not leave, The Yale Daily News, an independent student newspaper, reported. Officer Christian Bruckhart, a New Haven police spokesperson, said no arrests had been made as of 7:30 a.m.


The school in Evanston, Illinois, said Monday that the school had reached an agreement with students and faculty who represent the majority of protesters on its campus since Thursday.


At least 40 people were arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct in a confrontation between police and protesters late Monday.

About 150 protesters sat on the ground as state troopers and police encircled them, with hundreds of other students and protesters shouting when officers dragged someone away. After police cleared the original group of demonstrators, hundreds of students and protesters ran to block officers from leaving campus. Protesters pushed in on officers, creating a mass of shoving bodies before police used pepper spray on the crowd and set off flash-bang devices to clear a path for a van to take those arrested off campus.


Encampment organizers met with university President Carol Folt for about 90 minutes Monday. Folt declined to discuss details of what was discussed but said the purpose of the meeting was to allow her to hear the concerns of protesters. Another meeting was scheduled for Tuesday.

The university has canceled its main stage graduation ceremony, set for May 10. It already canceled a commencement speech by the school’s pro-Palestinian valedictorian, citing safety concerns.


A few dozen faculty members staged a walkout Monday, joining pro-Palestinian protesters who have been camping around-the-clock on campus. The teachers and other employees said they came out to amplify the demands of demonstrators.

The scene was less tense than Sunday, when protesters shouted and shoved each other during dueling demonstrations.


Before dawn Monday, demonstrators at the school in Washington, D.C., tore down metal barricades confining them to University Yard and set up more than a dozen tents in the middle of a street.

Later in the day, there were no signs of conflict and the mood at University Yard was borderline festive. The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement it will continue monitoring the situation and that the protest activity remained peaceful.

Commencement is scheduled for May 19. The university said it would move law school finals to a different building because of noise from the protests.


A protest at the school in Blacksburg resulted in 82 arrests, including 53 students, a university spokesperson said Monday.

Protesters occupying the lawn of the graduate life center Friday. After protesters took further steps to occupy the lawn and outdoor spaces Sunday, the university advised those gathered to disperse. Those who failed to comply were warned they would be charged with trespassing, the university said.


Dozens of students, faculty and staff camped out overnight at the Cleveland school hours after a similar encampment had been broken up there and more than 20 people were detained but later released.

School officials initially had said protests would be limited to daytime hours but announced Monday night that students and others affiliated with the school would be allowed to stay at the makeshift encampment on the school’s public green.

Officials were checking the participants’ identification before they were given wristbands signifying they could remain at the site. Roughly 100 people camped out overnight without incident, officials said.


Police began removing protesters from an encampment Tuesday morning.

WRAL-TV reported that police could be seen removing protesters, some of whom were led away in zip ties. A group organizing the protests called UNC Students for Justice in Palestine issued an email statement saying the action started around 6 a.m. and involved around two dozen students.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the students had been arrested and charged, or just detained.


Police in riot gear at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond sought to break up an encampment there late Monday, clashing with protesters and deploying pepper spray and zip-ties to take protesters into custody.


Police arrested protesters Monday who tried to set up an encampment at the University of Georgia.

A spokesperson wouldn’t say how many people were arrested on the final day of classes before spring exams at the university northeast of Atlanta. Athens-Clarke County jail records showed 12 people had been booked into the jail by mid-afternoon by University of Georgia police on criminal trespassing charges. State troopers aided university police.

The Red and Black student newspaper reported 16 people were detained at the site.


Protesters erected an encampment at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday. About two dozen tents were set up on the lawn outside the university president’s office, and roughly 200 students held protest signs and Palestinian flags. Later Monday, dozens of officers in riot gear sought to break up the encampment.

Police dragged students off by their hands and feet, snapping the poles holding up tents and zip-tying those who refused to disperse. Seventeen people were arrested. The university says it’s against code to camp overnight on school property and that the students were given several warnings to disperse before police were called in.


Hundreds of protesters gathered Monday at the Twin Cities campus, setting up dozens of tents in solidarity with Palestinians. Dozens of students sat in and near the tents while others participated in a Muslim prayer outside on the campus.

The university said earlier Monday in a statement that it was closing several buildings “to ensure the safety of those who work and study on our campus” during protests that are expected to continue on campus in the coming days.

Ali Abu, who said he is a student protest organizer, said the students plan on staying “as long as possible,” even weeks, until their demands are met.