130 arrested at New York University as Israel-Gaza protests spread across top US schools

More than 130 people were arrested overnight during pro-Palestinian protests at the New York University campus, as student demonstrations gather pace in the United States over the Israel-Gaza war.

Some of America’s most prestigious universities have been rocked by protests in recent weeks as students and other supporters take over quads and disrupt campus activities.

The demonstrations come amid sweeping debates over Israel’s assault on Gaza, following Hamas’s deadly invasion on October 7.

Such bastions of higher education – Harvard, Yale, Columbia and others – are grappling for a balance between students demanding free speech rights and others who argue that campuses are encouraging intimidation and hate speech.

NYPD officers detain pro-Palestinian students and protesters on the campus of New York University on Monday. Photo: TNS

On Tuesday, the New York Police Department said that 133 people had been arrested at NYU and released after being issued with court summons, as protests also intensify at Yale, Columbia University and other campuses.

As the holiday of Passover began Monday night, police began detaining demonstrators at an encampment at NYU who had earlier refused orders to disperse.

A New York University spokesman said the decision to call police came after additional protesters, many of whom were not thought to be affiliated with NYU, suddenly breached the barriers erected around the encampment.

This “dramatically changed” the situation, the spokesman said in a statement on the school’s website Monday, citing “disorderly, disruptive and antagonising behaviour” along with “intimidated chants and several antisemitic incidents”.

Tensions flare at US universities over Israel-Gaza war protests

“Given the foregoing and the safety issues raised by the breach, we asked for assistance from the NYPD. The police urged those on the plaza to leave peacefully, but ultimately made a number of arrests.”

The spokesman said the school continues to support freedom of expression and the safety of students.

But protests have grown large and disruptive enough – New York Police Department spokesmen have spoken of their officers facing violence when confronting protesters at NYU – to draw the attention of US President Joe Biden and his administration.

“Antisemitic hate on college campuses is unacceptable,” US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona posted on X on Tuesday, expressing concern about the unrest.

Pro-Palestian protesters gather on the campus of Columbia University in New York on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

The protests began last week at Columbia University, also in New York, with a large group of demonstrators establishing a so-called “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on school grounds.

But more than 100 protesters were arrested after university authorities called the police onto Columbia’s campus on Thursday, a move that seemingly escalated tensions and sparked a greater turnout over the weekend.

Social media images late Monday appeared to show pro-Palestinian Jewish students holding traditional seder meals inside the protest areas on campuses including at Columbia.

There were also demonstrations at MIT, the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley and Yale, where at least 47 people were arrested Monday after refusing requests to disperse.



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