May 1, 2024 - News

Pro-Palestinian protesters at UGA hold smaller demonstrations

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather at UGA's arch to protest Isarel's war in Gaza.

Protesters chant as they cross the University Arch at UGA campus in Athens following arrests on Monday. Photo: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the University of Georgia campus continued into Tuesday, albeit at a smaller level than last week's protests.

Why it matters: Universities nationwide are in the delicate position of trying to balance students' rights to assemble with responding to some Jewish students who say the demonstrations make them feel unsafe, Axios' Ivana Saric reports.

The latest: Sixteen protesters arrested at an encampment Monday at UGA were released from the Athens-Clarke County Jail, according to the AJC.

  • On Tuesday, more than a dozen protesters showed up on the Old College lawn to demonstrate but moved to Tate Plaza after being told they needed to sign "protest paperwork" to gather on the lawn, the AJC reports.
  • Monday was the final day of classes for the spring semester.
  • UGA has not responded to Axios' questions about which of the 16 protesters were students or faculty members.

What they're saying: Isabelle Philip, a UGA senior who was arrested Monday and charged with criminal trespass, told Axios the encampment was "meant to be a protest in solidarity with Gaza," and to call on UGA to disclose its ties to Israel and divest from the country.

  • "It was very hurtful to have the administration sic police on us," she said. "It made us feel very powerless."
  • After she was released Monday afternoon from jail, Philip told Axios she checked her email to find that she was suspended from campus, and the items she and other protesters left behind were taken to an area landfill.
  • She is scheduled to graduate on May 10, but it's unclear when her suspension will end.

Yes, but: Dov Wilker, regional director of the American Jewish Committee's Atlanta office, said that although he defends the right to free speech and protest, some of the language used in the rallying cries has been "terribly antisemitic."

  • "These are not pro-Palestinian protests," he said. "I see these as absolutely anti-Israel protests because there is nothing that they are calling for to support the Palestinian people."

State of play: Emory University President Gregory Fenves said Monday that he's reviewing the school's response to last Thursday's demonstration on campus, where a violent confrontation between police and protesters led to 28 arrests, "so that we can develop recommendations to improve how we keep our community safe."

The big picture: About 1,100 people have been arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on at least 30 college campuses.

  • The latest arrests occurred Tuesday night when New York police officers in riot gear raided Columbia University and removed protesters who barricaded themselves in campus buildings, Axios' Andrew Childers and Sareen Habeshian report.
  • Columbia began suspending students who refused to leave an encampment on campus and has threatened students who occupied Hamilton Hall with expulsion.

What we're watching: Whether students suspended from campus will return for graduation or move out of university housing.

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