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Campus protests spill over into US political sphere
Campus protests spill over into US political sphere | GZERO US Politics

Campus protests spill over into US political sphere

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC, shares his perspective on US politics.

This is what we are watching in US Politics this week: It's still the campus protests for the second week in a row.

This has been a pretty dominant story in US Politics, despite everything going on in the world. Antony Blinken trying to get peace in the Middle East. Donald Trump on trial. These campus protests have dominated headlines and are starting to spill over into the political sphere.

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NYPD officers arrive at Columbia University on April 30, 2024, to clear demonstrators from an occupied hall on campus.

John Lamparski/NurPhoto via Reuters

Chaos erupts overnight on US campuses. What’s next for student protesters?

Last night, hundreds of New York City Police officers entered Columbia University in riot gear, one night after students occupied a building on campus and 13 days after students pitched an encampment that threw kerosene on a student movement against the war in Gaza on college campuses nationwide.

The police came in droves through the campus gates and directly through the windows of the building that student protesters had barricaded themselves in on Monday. They swept the encampment and the occupied building, detaining protesters with zip ties. Students still on campus were told to go to their dorms or leave the premises. I found myself pushed further and further away from my school, and I watched from beyond the barricades as dozens were arrested and marched onto NYPD detainment buses.

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The view Thursday night from inside the Columbia University campus gate at 116th Street and Amsterdam in New York City.

Alex Kliment

From the inside out: Is Columbia’s campus crisis calming down?

Special report by Riley Callanan and Alex Kliment

Late Thursday night, the words “New Shafik email drop” rippled through the protest site known as the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on Columbia University’s lawns.

The protesters had been waiting to hear whether the New York Police Department was on its way, knowing that the deadline for negotiations with the administration of university President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik was rapidly approaching.

The police would not, in fact, be coming, the email said. Shortly after that news broke, student negotiators returned from talks to report that while there had not been progress on their demands to divest from Israel or give amnesty to the suspended students, they had had a small win: No new deadline to end the protests had been set. The encampment’s leaders continue to demand that Columbia’s endowment divest from any Israeli-related holdings and offer amnesty to students suspended over the protests last week.

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Flags from across the divide wave in the air over protests at Columbia University on Thursday, April 25, 2024.

Alex Kliment

Slogans of war

Where do we draw the line between free speech and a safe space? That’s the core question posed by the protests and the arrests raging on campuses right now over the Hamas-Israel war.

Of the many complex, painful issues contributing to the tension stemming from the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre and the ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza, dividing groups into two basic camps, pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, is only making this worse. Call it a category problem.

What do these terms, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, even mean? Are they helpful, or is it time to stop using them altogether?

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Thousands protest Israel's war against Hamas in front of the monument to Sir George-Etienne Cartier in Montreal, carrying placards calling out Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau for their support of Israel.

Norbert Grisay/Hans Lucas via Reuters

Biden, Trudeau face Gaza pressure

Tensions in both Canada and the United States are rising as a result of Israel’s war against Hamas, with both Jews and Muslims reporting a rise in hate crimes. Montreal has seen a worrying uptick in antisemitic vandalism and violence, from the firebombing of a synagogue to a Jewish day school being shot up, and Toronto has seen a 132% rise in hate-related calls since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel.

In the United States, Amnesty International has documented hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims, including the murder of a Palestinian child in Illinois. This past week, two Jewish students were reportedly assaulted at Ohio State University, and tensions are so high that some American Jews are arming themselves and forming local emergency squads for self-defense. In Washington, on Tuesday, tens of thousands marched to show support for Israel and condemn antisemitism. Several Canadian politicians were among the marchers.

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