Study Finds Nearly All College Protests Against Israel’s War on Gaza Have Been Peaceful

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News May 16, 2024

students protesting for Palestine

Almost all pro-Palestinian campus protests in the United States (97 percent) have been peaceful, a new analysis has found.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a disaggregated data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping project, has analyzed the situation at 553 campuses where students have been protesting against Israel’s war on Gaza, Erudera.com reports.

Elements of violence or property damage were documented at fewer than 20 campus protests between April 18 and May 3. On the other hand, according to the independent non-profit organization, there were at least 70 cases when the police forcefully intervened at US campus protests during the same period, arresting and using physical force against protesters.

“Destroying property is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law. Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations - none of this is a peaceful protest. Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not peaceful protest. It’s against the law,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement on May 2.

However, the study of ACLED reveals that only two instances were categorized as non-peaceful protest: the one at Portland State University, where protesters, after occupying the campus on April 30, shattered glass and damaged furniture and property, as well as at Columbia University where students broke into an academic building on university’s campus and shattered windows.

New York has been the scene of Pro-Palestinian college protests, first erupting at Columbia University on April 17. The protest resulted in over 100 arrests on April 18, 2024, after the university authorized police to clear a pro–Palestine encampment.

According to the ACLED’s analysis, protests involving students in the United States account for one-third of all demonstrations nationwide over the Gaza war. Data show that between October 7, 2023, when the war between Israel and Hamas began, until April 26, 2024, over 90 percent of protests across the US have shown support for Palestine.

So far, the majority of pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protests have been held in New York, followed by California.

“New York has also seen the largest amount of both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrations overall, closely followed by California. Additionally, ACLED records the highest number of counter-demonstrations staged against pro-Palestine or pro-Israel demonstrations in New York. New York accounts for 28 percent of Israel/Gaza conflict-related demonstrations with police intervention,” ACLED’s report states.

Over 200 people were arrested in the past weeks at Northeastern University and Emerson College in Boston. On May 8, more than 130 protesters were arrested at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.

On Wednesday, police have clashed with protesters at the University of California, Irvine campus after the latter occupied the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall.

The university shifted to online classes on Thursday, May 16.

© Manny Becerra | Unsplash

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