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Police arrest “many” people at Israel-Hamas war protest at UC Santa Cruz, university says

CALIFORNIA: Police in riot gear surrounded protesters sitting arm-in-arm at the University of California, Santa Cruz on Friday to clear an encampment and barricades where pro-Palestinian demonstrations had blocked the main entrance to campus this week.
The university said numerous people were arrested.
Campus, local and state police surrounded the protesters, and videos from local news stations showed officers asking people to leave and then removing signs and part of a barricade. There appeared to be a scuffle between police and protesters. Officers were wearing zip ties and appeared to be arresting some people.
“For weeks, camp participants received repeated, clear instructions to vacate the camp and to stop blocking access to numerous campus resources and the campus itself,” Scott Hernandez-Jason, a university spokesman, said in a statement Friday.
“They were informed that their behavior was illegal and dangerous. And this morning they were asked several times by police to leave the area and disperse to avoid arrest. Unfortunately, many refused to comply with this order and many individuals were arrested,” said Hernandez-Jason.
The university had not released the exact number of arrests as of Friday afternoon. Chancellor Cynthia Larive informed the university in a letter on Friday that some protesters were still at the entrance.
She said the road blockades “with fortified and chained barricades made of pallets and other materials, as well as other unlawful actions, disrupted campus operations and compromised safety, including delaying access by emergency vehicles.”
It is not known whether anyone was injured. The university held distance learning classes on Friday.
Student assistants at UC Santa Cruz continued a strike that began last week against the university system’s handling of pro-Palestinian protesters. The strike will expand to three more campuses next week, their union said Friday.
The strikes began at UC Santa Cruz on May 20 and then expanded to UCLA and UC Davis. Union members at UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego will strike on June 3 and at UC Irvine on June 5, UAW Local 4811 said. Union members include graduate assistants, researchers and other academic staff.
This spring, protest camps sprung up in the United States and Europe, with students demanding that their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that support the war in Gaza. Organizers want to amplify calls to end Israel’s war against Hamas, which they describe as genocide against the Palestinians.
The Associated Press has recorded at least 83 arrests at campus protests across the U.S. since April 18. More than 3,025 people have been arrested at 62 colleges and universities. The figures are based on AP reports and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.
The confrontation in California came a day after arrests were made at a pro-Palestinian camp on a Detroit campus and a student strike during the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s graduation ceremony.
On Thursday, police in riot gear removed fences and tore down tents that had been set up last week on a green space near the student library at Wayne State University in Detroit. At least 12 people were arrested.
President Kimberly Andrews Espy cited health and safety concerns and disruptions to campus operations. Employees were asked to work from home this week and summer in-person classes were suspended.
The camp, she said, “created a climate of exclusion – one in which some members of our campus community felt unwelcome and unable to fully participate in campus life.”
An outdoor graduation ceremony at MIT in Cambridge, near Boston, went off without a hitch on Friday. On Thursday, some graduates walked out of another ceremony and disrupted it for 10 to 15 minutes. They wore keffiyeh, the checkered scarves that symbolize Palestinian solidarity, over their hats and gowns, chanting “Free, free Palestine” and holding signs that read “All eyes on Rafah.”
“As long as MIT is doing research projects with the Israeli Defense Ministry, it will not be business as usual,” said David Berkinsky, 27, who earned a doctorate in chemistry and then left the university. “There are no graduates in Gaza. There are no universities left in Gaza because Israel has bombed every single one.”
Some participants in the event insulted the demonstrators and shouted: “Goodbye, Hamas terror fans!” In early May, a pro-Palestinian camp at MIT was cleared.

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