College protests live updates: Northwestern reaches deal ending encampment

Written by on April 30, 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 30, 12:27 PM
82 protesters arrested at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech said it has cleared an encampment on campus and arrested 82 protesters for trespassing, after refusing to comply with university policies.

“Virginia Tech strongly supports free speech, even when the content of that speech may be disagreeable to some. However, those rights do not extend beyond the point where they interfere with the rights of others, violate our policies, the Code of Virginia, or federal laws and/or create a threat to safety for others,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech Muslim Student Association said in a letter the 91 students faculty and staff were arrested for peacefully protesting.

“As we reach the end of the semester, 7 months after Oct. 7, we are finding our voices still unheard. We are waiting for your support of us and Palestine,” the Virginia Tech MSA said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Nadine El-Bawab and Kerem Inal

Apr 30, 12:00 PM
Cal Poly Humboldt clears occupied buildings, arrests 25 protesters

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt said it has cleared two campus buildings that had been occupied by protesters for over a week and arrested 25 people.

“Those arrested faced a range of different charges depending on individual circumstances including unlawful assembly, vandalism, conspiracy, assault of police officers, and others. In addition, students could face discipline for conduct violations while any University employees arrested could face disciplinary action,” Cal Poly said in a statement.

The university called the occupation of the two buildings “criminal activity” and said there were “serious concerns it would spread even further on campus.”

“This morning’s enforcement action was determined to be necessary to restore order and to address the lawlessness and dangerous conditions that had developed. What was occurring was not free expression or a protest,” the university said in a statement.

The campus will remain closed until May 10.

Apr 30, 11:41 AM
Northwestern reaches deal with students, faculty to end encampment, reveal investments

Northwestern University announced it has reached a deal with pro-Palestinian protesters, ending an encampment of students and faculty, but allowing peaceful demonstrations to continue through June 1.

The university said it would “answer questions from any internal stakeholder about holdings, held currently or within the last quarter, to the best of its knowledge and to the extent legally possible” — meeting a key call from divestment protesters and students around the country who are seeking more transparency over universities’ investments.

Northwestern will also reestablish an Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility in the fall, which will include representatives from students, faculty and staff.

The university also pledged more inclusivity, funding two Palestinian faculty members and the full cost of attendance for five Palestinian undergraduate students annually, as well as a commitment to raising funds to sustain the program beyond this commitment.

Under the agreement, Northwestern says tents will be removed immediately but one aid tent will be allowed to remain. Protesters will need to suspend the use of “non-approved” amplified sound.” Protesters who refuse to follow the agreement will be suspended and non-affiliated individuals must leave campus.

Apr 30, 11:12 AM
UConn removes encampment, makes arrests after protesters refuse to leave

The University of Connecticut cleared an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters early Tuesday after they refused orders to disperse. UConn has not yet revealed the number of arrests and charges.

UConn said that protests were permitted but setting up tents violated university guidelines.

“The group was warned multiple times over a period of days that while they were free to be in the space and exercise their free speech rights, the guidelines needed to be followed and the tents needed to be taken down. This was ignored,” UConn said in a statement.

“UConn Police directed them four times on Tuesday morning to remove the tents and disperse, and they again repeatedly ignored the directives. Officers then entered the site to remove the tents and tarps, and to arrest those who refused compliance,” UConn said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Mark Osborne

Apr 30, 10:07 AM
Reporter arrested while covering protest on Cal Poly campus

Adelmi Ruiz, a reporter for Redding, California, ABC affiliate KRCR, was arrested at Cal Poly Humboldt while filming police approaching an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters.

A livestream showed Ruiz filming police in riot gear approaching protesters, who could be heard chanting, when an officer asks her to come over and tells her they need her out of the way.

An officer then tells Ruiz to put her phone away and put her hands behind her back because he is going to put her in flex cuffs — plastic handcuffs used by police for protesters. Ruiz identifies herself as a reporter multiple times but is still arrested.

“You had an opportunity to leave. You were told multiple times to leave otherwise you were gonna be arrested,” the officer says, according to a livestream which continued after Ruiz placed her phone in her pocket.

She responded that she was on assignment covering the protest.

“Find a different job if this causes you to break the law,” the officer says.

As she is escorted away, Ruiz can be heard asking for help.

Apr 30, 9:42 AM
17 protesters arrested at University of Utah, encampment cleared

The University of Utah has removed an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters and arrested 17 people after the university said protesters do not have a right to set up encampments on campus property and threatened to disperse them.

About a dozen tents, stashes of water, food and toilet paper were removed from the encampment.

The university had issued warnings to students, staff and faculty members telling them to remove their encampments, or face consequences, including arrests.

The university had threatened criminal trespass and disorderly conduct charges, termination for faculty and staff and discipline for students ranging from probation to suspension against those who refused to leave the encampment.

Apr 30, 4:06 AM
Columbia protesters occupy campus hall

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University occupied a hall on campus early Tuesday, hours after school officials ordered the dispersal of a protest encampment.

Videos viewed by ABC News appeared to show protesters creating a barricade with metal chairs outside Hamilton Hall after midnight.

Several were seen in the videos unrolling protest posters from one of the building’s balconies.

It was unclear how many demonstrators had occupied the hall, which is on Amsterdam Avenue. The Columbia Spectator, a campus newspaper, reported the people who were inside were working to block the building’s exits with tables, chairs and zip-ties.

Apr 29, 11:35 PM
University of Texas at Austin says it took action to ‘preserve a safe, conducive learning environment’ for students

After police and protesters clashed on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin following a dispersal order, leading to some arrests on Monday, the school issued a statement, saying it “took swift action to preserve a safe, conducive learning environment for our 53,000 students as they prepare for final exams.”

“UT Austin requested backup assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety to protect the safety of the campus community and enforce our Institutional Rules, such as the rule that prohibits encampments on campus. Because of the encampments and other violations of the University’s Institutional Rules related to protests, protestors were told repeatedly to disperse. When they refused to disperse, some arrests were made for trespassing. Others were arrested for disorderly conduct,” the university’s statement read.

UTA said protests since the start of the Israel-Hamas war have happened “largely without incident.”

“The University strongly supports the free speech and assembly rights of our community and we want students and others on campus to know that protests on campus are fully permissible, provided that they do not violate Institutional Rules or threaten the safety of our campus community,” the statement concluded.

Apr 29, 10:51 PM
‘Multiple arrests’ at Virginia Commonwealth University: Officials

“Multiple arrests” were made at Virginia Commonwealth University Monday night, following tense conflict between police and pro-Palestinian protesters on the Richmond campus, officials said.

Addressing the arrests, the university said in a statement that final exams start this week and the school “must provide students the opportunity to safely and successfully complete the semester.”

“The gathering violated several university policies. VCU respectfully and repeatedly provided opportunities for those individuals involved — many of whom were not students — to collect their belongings and leave,” the university’s statement continued. “Those who did not leave were subject to arrest for trespassing. While supporting an environment that fosters protected speech and expressive activity, VCU must maintain an atmosphere free of disruption to the university’s mission.”

Apr 29, 5:27 PM
Columbia begins suspending students who refuse to leave encampment

A representative from Columbia University said the school has begun suspending students who have defied the 2 p.m. deadline to leave the encampment.

Ben Chang, the vice president of the office of public affairs, did not say how many people would be suspended but said those students would not be able to attend classes or graduate.

The school’s campus is still closed to anyone who doesn’t have a student ID.

-ABC News’ Darren Reynolds

Apr 29, 4:23 PM
Protesters clash with police at UT-Austin

Police and protesters clashed on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin on Monday afternoon after authorities issued a dispersal order.

The UT Austin Police Department asked protesters to leave the South Mall area at about 1 p.m. local time.

Protesters could be heard chanting, “There is no riot here, why are you in riot gear?” Soon after, police moved in to clear the area by force.

The university said in a statement, “After protesters ignored repeated directives from both the administration and law enforcement officers to comply with Institutional Rules and remove tents assembled on the University’s South Lawn, then physically engaged with and verbally assaulted Dean of Students staff who attempted to confiscate them, UT and partner law enforcement agencies dismantled an encampment and arrested several protesters.”

It continued, “Baseball size rocks were found strategically placed within the encampment. The majority of protesters are believed to be unaffiliated with the university.”

More than 50 people were arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest on the campus last week, however, charges were later dropped.

Apr 29, 3:31 PM
Protesters clash with police at UT-Austin

Police and protesters clashed on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin on Monday afternoon after authorities issued a dispersal order.

The UT Austin Police Department asked protesters to leave the South Mall area at about 1 p.m. local time.

Protesters could be heard chanting, “There is no riot here, why are you in riot gear?” Soon after, police moved in to clear the area by force.

More than 50 people were arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest on the campus last week, however, charges were later dropped.

Apr 29, 3:05 PM
Columbia protesters defy 2 p.m. deadline to disperse

Protesters camped out at Columbia University are defying the school’s order to pack up and leave by 2 p.m.

Sueda Polat, a representative from the protesters’ negotiating team, told reporters that the university did not engage in good-faith negotiations and failed to meet their demands to divest from Israel.

“It is against the will of the students to disperse,” she said. “We do not abide by university pressures. We act on the will of the students.”

Police were outside of the campus as the deadline approached but they did not immediately enter after it passed.

“Students are aware of the risk of law enforcement. … They know how to come together in that risk,” Polat said.

Apr 29, 1:57 PM
Cal Poly Humboldt campus leaders offer escorts to concerned students

Cal Poly Humboldt said it will close off campus to non-school members through May 10 as protesters have occupied two buildings.

Campus leaders also said it will now offer escorts off campus to anyone who feels their safety is threatened.

The school urged the protesters who have been occupying Siemens Hall and Nelson Hall East since last week to leave immediately.

“Leaving voluntarily will be considered as a possible mitigating factor in University conduct processes and may reduce the severity of sanctions imposed. This does not, however, eliminate responsibility for any potential conduct or criminal charges.”

-ABC News’ Bonnie McLean

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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