College protests live updates: Columbia tells protesters to leave encampment by 2 p.m.

Written by on April 29, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — Protests have broken out at colleges and universities across the country in connection with the war in Gaza.

Many pro-Palestinian protesters are calling for their colleges to divest of funds from Israeli military operations, while some Jewish students on the campuses have called the protests antisemitic and said they are scared for their safety.

The student protests — some of which have turned into around-the-clock encampments — have erupted throughout the nation following arrests and student removals at Columbia University in New York City. Students at schools including Yale University, New York University, Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California and more have launched protests.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Apr 29, 12:24 PM
UGA arrests protesters after ‘crossing a line,’ blocking sidewalks

The University of Georgia-Athens said protesters who set up an encampment on campus “crossed a line” Monday morning and several were arrested.

Approximately “25 protesters began erecting tents and a barricade, blocking sidewalks and building entrances and using amplified sound,” school spokesman Greg Trevor said in a statement.

The protesters met with university police and student affairs members to discuss the violation and were given multiple warnings to remove the barriers, but they refused, according to Trevor.

“At 8:30 a.m., UGA Police were left with no choice but to arrest those who refused to comply,” he said.

The school did not specify how many people were arrested.

“While we must provide ample opportunity for protected expressive activities, we also have the right and duty to regulate the time, place and manner in which they occur,” Trevor said.

-ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway

Apr 29, 11:11 AM
Columbia tells protesters to leave encampment by 2 p.m.

Columbia University has distributed a letter to members of the encampment on campus telling them to gather their belongings and leave the area by 2 p.m., saying if they identify themselves and sign a form “to abide by all University policies through June 30, 2025, or the date of the conferral of your degree, whichever is earlier, you will be eligible to complete the semester in good standing.”

The school said it has “already identified many students in the encampment” and “if you do not identify yourself upon leaving and sign the form now, you will not be eligible to sign and complete the semester in good standing.” The school warned it could take action up to suspension or expulsion if they do not leave the encampment.

The school reiterated that negotiations with protesters had broken down and said the protests are a “disruption” to those taking final exams and preparing for graduation.

“As you are probably aware, the dialogue between the University and student leaders of the encampment is, regrettably, at an impasse,” the letter states. “The current unauthorized encampment and disruption on Columbia University’s campus is creating an unwelcoming environment for members of our community. External actors have also contributed to this environment, especially around our gates, causing safety concerns – including for our neighbors.”

Apr 29, 9:09 AM
Columbia cannot come to agreement with protesters, president says

Protesters at Columbia University, who sparked many of the protests across the nation earlier this month, are now being asked to voluntarily disperse after the school’s president said it was not able to come to an agreement through negotiations.

Since Wednesday, “a small group of academic leaders has been in constructive dialogue with student organizers to find a path that would result in the dismantling of the encampment and adherence to University policies going forward. Regretfully, we were not able to come to an agreement,” Columbia President Minouche Shafik said in a statement Monday morning.

One of the top demands of the protesters, for Columbia to divest from Israel, was flatly denied by the university, according to the statement.

The school asked protesters, who number in the hundreds, to voluntarily disperse, but offered no explanation for what would happen if they did not. The school said it did not “want to deprive thousands of students and their families and friends of a graduation celebration.” The school’s graduation ceremony is set to be held May 15.

“We urge those in the encampment to voluntarily disperse,” Shafik wrote. “We are consulting with a broader group in our community to explore alternative internal options to end this crisis as soon as possible. We will continue to update the community with new developments.”

Apr 29, 8:54 AM
Dozens of arrests made at Virginia Tech

Police cleared out an encampment at Virginia Tech late Sunday after protesters had set up tents on the lawn of the campus’ Graduate Life Center.

“Those who gathered were advised by university officials to remove their possessions and to disperse voluntarily; those who failed to comply were then approached by Virginia Tech Police and were again asked to leave and advised that anyone who failed to comply would be charged with trespassing, in accordance with Virginia law,” the school said in a statement.

The university added, “At approximately 10:15 p.m., police approached protesters to ask them to disperse within five minutes. Those who remained were subject to arrest.”

Dozens of protesters were taken into custody, according to Lynchburg, Virginia, ABC affiliate WSET.

Apr 28, 8:52 PM
UCLA increases security measures after physical altercations during protest

UCLA announced it is instituting additional security measures amid protests on campus over the Israel-Hamas war in a statement on Sunday.

“UCLA has a long history of peaceful protest and we are heartbroken to report that today, some physical altercations broke out among demonstrators on Royce Quad,” Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications said.

“We have since instituted additional security measures and increased the numbers of our safety team members on site,” Osako said.

“As an institution of higher education, we stand firmly for the idea that even when we disagree, we must still engage respectfully and recognize one another’s humanity,” Osako continued.

Addressing the physical altercations during the protests, Osako said, “We are dismayed that certain individuals instead chose to jeopardize the physical safety of the community.”

Last week, the University of California rejected calls to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Apr 28, 10:07 AM
White House: ‘We don’t want to see anybody hurt in the process’

The White House said Sunday that President Joe Biden respects the right of demonstrators to make their voices heard — peacefully — and “we don’t want to see anybody hurt in the process.”

“The president knows that there are very strong feelings about the war in Gaza. He understands that, he respects that, and as he has said many times, we certainly respect the right of peaceful protest. People should have the ability to air their views and to share their perspectives publicly, but it has to be peaceful,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told ABC News’ This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

Kirby did warn that some language heard during the demonstrations crossed a line with the administration.

“We absolutely condemn the antisemitism language that we’ve heard of late, and we certainly condemn all the hate speech and the threats of violence out there. These protests, we understand they’re important, but they do need to be peaceful,” he said.

“We’ll leave it to local authorities to determine how these protests are managed,” Kirby told Stephanopoulos, “but we want them to be peaceful protests and obviously we don’t want to see anybody hurt in the process of peacefully protesting.”

Apr 28, 12:07 AM
USC temporarily closes main campus due to ‘disruption,’ LAPD issues alert

The University of Southern California closed its main campus Saturday evening “due to a disturbance,” the university said on X.

Los Angeles Police Department issued a citywide tactical alert due to a protest on USC’s campus, urging people to avoid the area.

A tactical alert allows LAPD to keep officers on past their shifts and to move officers between divisions if they need extra staffing in one area of the city.

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