May 9, 2024 - Education

Dozens arrested at UMass Amherst protest clash

Illustration of hands raised in a classroom with the central hand clenched into a protesting fist.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Police shut down a student encampment at UMass Amherst Tuesday night, leading to dozens of arrests at Massachusetts' flagship public university.

Why it matters: At least 135 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested after students built an encampment outside the Student Union.

UMass Chancellor Javier Reyes met with students Tuesday and asked for the encampment — on a lawn known as "hippie beach" — to be removed.

  • He later instructed campus police to dismantle the encampment.

The big picture: The student- and educator-led protests over Gaza are part of a national movement of activists calling on the U.S. to cease involvement in the war and urging schools to divest from companies that support Israel.

UMass administrators said the encampment was unauthorized, according to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the student newspaper.

Around 8pm Tuesday, police in riot gear surrounded the encampment and arrested faculty members shielding the tents before moving in and arresting students.

  • More students entered the encampment and police reinforcements were called in to remove the newcomers, according to the State House News Service.
  • The Collegian reported police were armed with paintball guns and covered their names and badges to conceal their identities.

What they're saying: "It saddens me to send this message tonight, but I am hopeful that our campus community will persevere to find common ground and come together in these challenging times," Reyes said in a campus-wide email.

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