University of Arizona Students Clash with Police During Pro-Palestinian Protest

Pro-Palestinian protesters clash with riot police at University of Arizona over Israel policies, reflecting growing campus activism on the issue.

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Olalekan Adigun
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University of Arizona Students Clash with Police During Pro-Palestinian Protest

University of Arizona Students Clash with Police During Pro-Palestinian Protest

Pro-Palestinian student protesters at the University of Arizona in Tucson clashed with riot police late Tuesday night after defying orders to disperse from a day-long encampment on campus. The confrontation, which involved an estimated 30 protesters and 40 SWAT officers and police, began after the students refused to leave the makeshift camp they had set up earlier in the day in protest of Israel's policies toward Palestinians.

University officials had warned the protesters that they were violating the campus' 10:30 PM curfew and ordered them to remove the tents, fencing, and other structures they had erected. When the deadline passed, police in riot gear surrounded the encampment and announced that the protesters were officially under arrest. "You are hereby given a final warning to vacate the area," police declared over loudspeakers. "If you do not do so, you may be subject to the deployment of chemical agents."

Despite the warnings, the protesters refused to leave and instead barricaded themselves inside the camp, leading to a tense standoff with police that lasted for over an hour. During the confrontation, some protesters threw objects at the officers, who responded by tearing down the barricades and entering the encampment. Although the university stated that the protesters were under arrest, no arrests were immediately made.

Why this matters: The clash at the University of Arizona reflects a growing wave of pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses across the United States. Similar protests have recently occurred at other universities, including Arizona State University and Columbia University, where dozens of demonstrators were arrested.

The protest at the University of Arizona, which began on Tuesday afternoon, was part of a coordinated effort by students to pressure the school to cut ties with Israel and companies that do business with the country. "We're here to protest the university's connections to Israel and certain companies," stated one of the protesters. Counter-protesters also gathered at the scene, with some waving Israeli flags and chanting "U-S-A" in opposition to the pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

The confrontation ended around 1 AM on Wednesday morning, with no confirmed arrests made. In a statement, the university said it had taken action due to "concerns over weapons and barricades" in the encampment. The school emphasized that while it supports free speech and peaceful protest, it will enforce campus policies and laws "to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff."

Key Takeaways

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with riot police at U. of Arizona.
  • Protesters defied orders to disperse from campus encampment by 10:30 PM.
  • Police surrounded encampment, threatened use of chemical agents if not vacated.
  • Protesters barricaded themselves, threw objects at police, who then entered encampment.
  • No arrests confirmed, university cited concerns over "weapons and barricades".