No arrests as Los Angeles police clear USC pro-Palestinian encampment

Students and other protesters have called for universities to divest their financial ties to Israel.

A Palestinian flag and posters are put up as people protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza at the University of Southern California (USC [File: David Swanson/Reuters]Published On 5 May 20245 May 2024

Protests against Israel’s war on Gaza continue across university campuses in the United States as graduation season gets under way, with police in Los Angeles making no arrests as they cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Southern California (USC).

After USC requested assistance, police entered the encampment about 5am local time (12:00 GMT) on Sunday and worked with campus police to remove tents as students peacefully left the area, police said.

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The move comes a day after at least 25 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested as police cleared an encampment at the University of Virginia (UVA).

Tensions flared at UVA’s campus in Charlottesville, where protests had been largely peaceful until Saturday morning, when police officers in riot gear were seen in a video moving on an encampment on the campus’s lawn and cuffing some demonstrators with zip ties.

Campus protests have emerged as a political flashpoint during a US election year as Democratic President Joe Biden seeks a second term in office. Police have arrested more than 2,000 people during protests at dozens of campuses around the country.

Students and other protesters have called for universities to divest their financial ties to Israel and push for a ceasefire.

Under mounting political pressure, Biden on Thursday broke his silence on the campus unrest, saying Americans have the right to demonstrate but not to unleash violence.

Many colleges, including Columbia University in New York City, have called in police to quell protests.

At the University of Texas in Austin on Sunday, drones deployed by police circled overhead as about 200 pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied, with about 50 onlookers, local media reported. The speakers advised fellow demonstrators to remain peaceful and not engage the police.

Adam, a Palestine Solidarity Committee organiser protesting at the University of Texas at Austin, told Al Jazeera that Palestinian students recognise that American students support Palestine.

“We will no longer deal in the blood of Palestinians,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Phil Lavelle, reporting from the University of California Irvine, said the situation there was relatively calm and talks between the protesters and the university administration were ongoing.

“We understand there is a protest in San Francisco. Here at UC Irvine, things are very calm,” he said.

Separately, there have been at least four bomb threats at New York area synagogues over the weekend, police said, but none have proven credible.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on X late Saturday: “We will not tolerate individuals sowing fear & antisemitism. Those responsible must be held accountable for their despicable actions.”

At least 34,683 people have been killed, mostly women and children, and 78,018 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza since October, according to Palestinian authorities.

Israel launched the assault on Gaza after Hamas led an attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,139 people, mostly civilians, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on Israeli statistics.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies