Arizona State University Activates Sprinklers to Disperse Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters

Pro-Palestinian student protesters at ASU set up unauthorized encampment, leading to arrests and police dispersal. Highlights ongoing campus debates over free speech, divestment, and the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Nitish Verma
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Arizona State University Activates Sprinklers to Disperse Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters, Leading to Arrests

Arizona State University Activates Sprinklers to Disperse Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters, Leading to Arrests

On Friday morning, dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters gathered on the Old Main lawn at Arizona State University's Tempe campus to protest the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The protesters set up makeshift tents, which the university says is not allowed. ASU police arrested three people "for setting up an unauthorized encampment, in violation of university policy and the ABOR Student Code of Conduct." "Demonstrations and protests are protected under the First Amendment, but they cannot disrupt university operations," ASU stated.

The university activated sprinklers to disperse the protesters, leading to tense interactions with police. At one point, police tore down some of the encampments. The activists organized the "camp-in" to raise awareness about the situation in Palestine, and students and advocacy groups participating in the protest waved Palestinian flags and held up signs in the school's "Old Main" area.

ASU officials stated that encampments on university grounds are prohibited unless they are part of a university-sanctioned activity, and that individuals who refuse to dismantle unapproved encampments may be arrested. The ACLU of Arizona voiced support for the student protesters' right to express their viewpoints.

Why this matters: The protest at ASU is part of a broader wave of demonstrations at colleges across the country, with students calling for their universities to divest from Israeli military operations. The protests have sparked counter-protests by pro-Israel students and raised concerns about campus safety and free speech.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs supports the right to free speech and peaceful protest, but opposes calls to boycott and divest from Israel, attacks on Israel's right to exist, demands to abolish the police, or rhetoric that supports or encourages violence. The protest at ASU remained mostly peaceful, with some counter-protesters also present. "Encampments and unlawful assembly are prohibited on ASU property unless they are part of a university-sanctioned activity," the university reiterated. Similar encampment-style protests have occurred at other campuses around the country, including Columbia University and the University of Southern California, as part of the broader pro-Palestinian movement happening at colleges nationwide.

Key Takeaways

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters set up tents on ASU campus, violating policy.
  • ASU police arrested 3 protesters for unauthorized encampment.
  • ASU activated sprinklers to disperse protesters, leading to tense interactions.
  • Protests are part of broader wave at colleges calling for Israel divestment.
  • ASU reiterates encampments prohibited unless university-sanctioned activity.