Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Pro-Palestinian Protests Dwindle on Campuses as Some US College Graduations Marked by Defiant Acts
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 2 weeks ago on
May 13, 2024

Pro-Palestinian protests at US college graduations spark controversy. Students call for divestment from Israel, leading to tension on campuses. (AP/Ethan Hyman)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A tiny contingent of Duke University graduates opposed pro-Israel comedian Jerry Seinfeld speaking at their commencement in North Carolina Sunday, with about 30 of the 7,000 students leaving their seats and chanting “free Palestine” amid a mix of boos and cheers.

Some waved the red, green, black and white Palestinian flag. Seinfeld, whose namesake sitcom was one of the most popular in U.S. television history, was there to receive an honorary doctorate from the university.

The stand-up comic turned actor, who stars in the new Netflix movie “Unfrosted,” has publicly supported Israel since it invaded Gaza to dismantle Hamas after the organization attacked the country and killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7. The ensuing war has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants.

The small student protest Sunday at Duke’s graduation in Durham, North Carolina, was emblematic of campus events across the U.S. Sunday after weeks of student protests resulted in nearly 2,900 arrests at 57 colleges and universities.

Protests Across US Campuses

Students at campuses across the U.S. responded this spring by setting up encampments and calling for their schools to cut ties with Israel and businesses that support it. Students and others on campuses whom law enforcement authorities have identified as outside agitators have taken part in the protests from Columbia University in New York City to UCLA.

Police escorted graduates’ families past a few dozen pro-Palestinian protesters who tried to block access to Sunday evening’s commencement for Southern California’s Pomona College.

After demonstrators set up an encampment last week on the campus’ ceremony stage, the small liberal arts school moved the event 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Claremont to the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets were required to attend the event, which the school said would include additional security measures.

In April, police wearing riot gear arrested 19 protesters who had occupied the president’s office at the college with about 1,700 undergraduates.

Demonstrator Anwar Mohmed, a 21-year-old Pomona senior, said the school has repeatedly ignored calls to consider divesting its endowment funds from corporations tied to Israel in the war in Gaza.

“We’ve been time and time again ignored by the institution,” Mohmed said outside the Shrine on Sunday. “So today we have to say, it’s not business as usual.”

Protests at University of California, Berkeley and Emerson College

At the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators waved flags and chanted during commencement and were escorted to the back of the stadium, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. There were no major counterprotests, but some attendees voiced frustration.

“I feel like they’re ruining it for those of us who paid for tickets and came to show our pride for our graduates,” said Annie Ramos, whose daughter is a student. “There’s a time and a place, and this is not it.”

This weekend’s commencement events remained largely peaceful.

At Emerson College in Boston, some students took off their graduation robes and left them on stage. Others emblazoned “free Palestine” on their mortar boards. One woman, staring at a camera broadcasting a livestream to the public, unzipped her robe to show a kaffiyeh, the black and white checkered scarf commonly worn by Palestinians, and flashed a watermelon painted on her hand. Both are symbols of solidarity with those living in the occupied territories.

Others displayed messages for a camera situated on stage, but the livestream quickly shifted to a different view, preventing them from being seen for long. Chants during some of the speeches were difficult to decipher.

Protests at Columbia University and University of Southern California

Protests at Columbia University, where student uprisings inspired others at campuses across the country, led the school to cancel its main graduation ceremony in favor of smaller gatherings.

The University of Southern California told its valedictorian, who publicly backed Palestinians, that she could not deliver her keynote speech at its graduation ceremony because of security concerns. It later canceled its main graduation ceremony.

Protests at DePaul University

At DePaul University in Chicago, graduation is more than a month away. But as the academic year closes, school leaders said they had reached an “impasse” with the school’s pro-Palestinian protesters, leaving the future of their encampment on the Chicago campus unclear.

The student-led DePaul Divestment Coalition, which is calling on the university to divest from economic interests tied to Israel, set up the encampment nearly two weeks ago. The group alleged university officials walked away from talks and tried to force students into signing an agreement, according to a student statement late Saturday.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Beatles, Stones, or Queen? Tribute Bands and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade Top the Weekend

DON'T MISS

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

DON'T MISS

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

DON'T MISS

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

DON'T MISS

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

DON'T MISS

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

DON'T MISS

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

DON'T MISS

Honored Nurse Fired After Calling Gaza Conflict ‘Genocide’

DON'T MISS

Nearly 200 Shuttered 99 Cents Only Stores to Open as Dollar Tree Locations from Texas to California

DON'T MISS

Amazon Gets FAA Approval That Allows It to Expand Drone Deliveries for Online Orders

UP NEXT

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

UP NEXT

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

UP NEXT

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

UP NEXT

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

UP NEXT

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

UP NEXT

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

UP NEXT

Nearly 200 Shuttered 99 Cents Only Stores to Open as Dollar Tree Locations from Texas to California

UP NEXT

Amazon Gets FAA Approval That Allows It to Expand Drone Deliveries for Online Orders

UP NEXT

Polls: Biden Is the Least Popular President in 75 Years

UP NEXT

Phillies Finally Beat Giants at Oracle Park, Ending a 9-Game Skid There

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

2 hours ago

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

2 hours ago

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

2 hours ago

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

2 hours ago

Honored Nurse Fired After Calling Gaza Conflict ‘Genocide’

2 hours ago

Nearly 200 Shuttered 99 Cents Only Stores to Open as Dollar Tree Locations from Texas to California

2 hours ago

Amazon Gets FAA Approval That Allows It to Expand Drone Deliveries for Online Orders

2 hours ago

Polls: Biden Is the Least Popular President in 75 Years

2 hours ago

Phillies Finally Beat Giants at Oracle Park, Ending a 9-Game Skid There

2 hours ago

Ohtani and Smith Power Dodgers Past Reeling Mets for Road Sweep

2 hours ago

Beatles, Stones, or Queen? Tribute Bands and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade Top the Weekend

The month ahead will be filled with top acts entertaining the Valley like Brooks & Dunn, Smokey Robinson, George Lopez, Andrew Schulz, a...

9 mins ago

9 mins ago

Beatles, Stones, or Queen? Tribute Bands and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade Top the Weekend

2 hours ago

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

2 hours ago

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

2 hours ago

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

2 hours ago

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

2 hours ago

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

2 hours ago

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

2 hours ago

Honored Nurse Fired After Calling Gaza Conflict ‘Genocide’

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend