Updated Apr 25, 2024 - News

Pro-Palestinian protesters, police clash at Emory University

Police detain protester on Emory University campus.

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a pro-Palestinian protest against the war in Gaza at Emory University in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty-eight activists were arrested on Thursday when dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police on Emory University's campus in Atlanta.

Why it matters: The violent confrontation that erupted shortly after the protesters occupied the Emory quadrangle mirrors similar clashes that have shaken universities across the country.

Between the lines: Reports of tear gas, rubber bullets and tasers being used by law enforcement, as well as police clashing with and detaining protesters, were posted on social media.

What they're saying: At around 7:41am, a few dozen activists came onto the campus, "pushed past officers" and set up tents on the area known as the Quad, said Cheryl Elliott, Emory's vice president for public safety.

  • University spokesperson Laura Diamond initially said the protesters were not part of Emory, but later added that people with ties to the school "later joined the initial group."
  • Emory's police department, with the help of the Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol, told protesters they were "trespassing" and ordered them to leave, the university said in a statement.
  • When they didn't leave, Diamond said police cleared the quad and arrested a "couple of dozen people."

Georgia State Patrol spokesperson Courtney Lund told Axios in a statement that protesters threw bottles at troopers and refused to leave.

One person who "actively resisted arrest" was placed on the ground, and while troopers tried to place him in handcuffs, he "continued to resist by shoving his other hand under his body," Lund said.

  • The troopers then tased the man twice — once in the abdomen and another in the thigh — and he was taken into custody.
  • Lund said troopers used "pepper balls to control the unruly crowd."
  • Atlanta police said in a statement that "chemical irritants" were used, but officers did not use rubber bullets.

The other side: Protesters said in a statement that students, journalists, clergy members and an Emory faculty member were "indiscriminately attacked" while "camping out on a school lawn in solidarity with Palestine and Stop Cop City."

  • They are also calling for the release of activists who were arrested by police.
  • "These violent actions from the police were approved by Emory University," Layla Amar, an Atlanta resident and activist, said in the statement. "Emory called the cops on their own students."

Twenty-eight people, 20 of whom are affiliated with Emory in some way, were arrested and some have been released, Elliott said.

  • "We are working with responding agencies to expedite the release of any Emory community members who remain in custody," she said.

State Rep. Ruwa Romman, the only Palestinian American legislator in the Georgia General Assembly, shared in a post on X a letter that she and 10 other lawmakers were "deeply alarmed by reports of excessive force" used by state troopers in their response to the protest.

  • Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs also requested a meeting with Emory University President George Fenves following the arrests of protesters, according to a press release from the organization.

State of play: Another protest over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza took place on Thursday at Kennesaw State University.

Zoom out: The protests at Emory happened a day after police arrested dozens of demonstrators on Wednesday at a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Texas at Austin and other universities across the country.

  • Meanwhile, artist Nicole Kang Ahn said in a post on Instagram that she will not participate in an event planned for Thursday at Emory.

Go deeper: Hundreds arrested as pro-Palestinian college protests intensify

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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