University students in US capital form joint pro-Palestinian encampment

Antiwar students from across the US capital are banding together, Thursday, to form a pro-Palestinian encampment less than 1 mile (kilometre) from the White House to demand their schools condemn Israel’s onslaught against the Gaza Strip and divest from Israeli businesses, Anadolu Agency reports.

The encampment has seen students from Georgetown University and George Washington University form a sit-in on the latter’s University yard, which is just over three blocks from the White House.

Hundreds of students walked out of classes at Georgetown early Thursday. A smaller group consisting of dozens of individuals then marched from the Catholic University to the encampment site.

One pro-Israel counter-protester was removed from the area by police. Three officers led the demonstrator away as he held a small Israeli flag between his hands.

It is unclear if students from four other major universities in Washington, DC – Howard University, American University, Gallaudet University and the University of the District of Columbia — have joined the demonstration. There are also several schools located along the border in Maryland and Virginia.

At least one other encampment was formed Wednesday at the University of Maryland – College Park.

Last week’s decision by Columbia University President, Minouche Shafik, to ask the New York Police Department to arrest dozens of students at an encampment they have established largely emboldened the wider protest movement.

The 18 April arrests of more than 100 people incensed students who have been stridently seeking an immediate ceasefire to end the bloodshed in Gaza and emboldened a new wave of protesters.

At Columbia, opponents defiantly changed tactics and quickly moved to a lawn adjacent to the original “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” cleared by police. They were joined, Tuesday, by Palestinian photographer Motaz Azaiza, whose work chronicled the grim realities of the war in Gaza, and Najla Said, the daughter of late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said.

Is anti-war student activism being quashed on campus? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Is anti-war student activism being quashed on campus? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Their tactics were quickly adopted by other demonstrators seeking to circumvent restrictions, but arrests have continued, including at New York University where more than 130 people were arrested overnight Monday.

Protests have been reported at a wide array of campuses from California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt; Yale University; University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; Swarthmore College and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; the University of Rochester in New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Emerson College in Massachusetts and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbour.

Additional arrests were reported, Wednesday, at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)