Emory University Police Clash with Pro-Palestinian Protesters, Arresting 28

Emory University police clash with pro-Palestinian protesters, using force to disperse the crowd, sparking outrage and calls for investigation into the university's and authorities' response.

Nitish Verma
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Emory University Police Clash with Pro-Palestinian Protesters, Arresting 28

Emory University Police Clash with Pro-Palestinian Protesters, Arresting 28

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, Emory University police clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters on the university's campus in Atlanta, Georgia. Few reports suggest that the protesters, who were not affiliated with the university, had set up an encampment of around 20 tents on the Quad to demonstrate support for Gaza in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.

Within three hours of the protest beginning, officers from the Georgia State Patrol, Atlanta Police Department, and Emory Police Department confronted the protesters. Police used various tactics to disperse the crowd, including tackling protesters, using zip ties to arrest individuals, deploying irritant gas and tear gas, and tasering at least one protester. Several protesters, including a Candler School of Theology senior research fellow, were affected by the gas.

Emory University condemned the protest, with the university president calling it a disruption by individuals not affiliated with Emory as students were finishing classes and preparing for finals. The police ordered the protesters to leave and called for assistance from the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Patrol. While the exact number of arrests is unclear, video footage showed police detaining protesters, with the university stating that at least 28 individuals, including 20 Emory community members, were arrested for criminal trespass.

Why this matters: The clash at Emory University is the latest in a series of protests and confrontations that have erupted on college campuses across the United States as pro-Palestinian activists demand universities divest from Israeli businesses and for the federal government to stop backing Israel's military amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip. The incident also raises concerns about the use of force by police in response to campus demonstrations.

The organizers of the demonstration condemned the authorities' actions as an "overt act of terrorism" and called for the broader Atlanta community to join them. A professor expressed shame at the administration's response, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations Georgia chapter condemned the police's use of force and filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of Emory Students for Justice in Palestine.

Georgia's governor and attorney general praised the law enforcement response, but the university's reaction has drawn sharp criticism from some elected officials and human rights organizations, including the ACLU of Georgia, who stated that "the freedom to protest without retribution is essential to democracy." State Representative Ruww Romman, the only Palestinian American legislator in the Georgia General Assembly, expressed alarm over the "excessive force" used by state troopers. The Georgia NAACP president has requested a meeting with the Emory president to discuss the events on campus.

Key Takeaways

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with Emory Univ. police on campus in Atlanta.
  • Police used tactics like tear gas, tasers, and arrests to disperse the protesters.
  • Emory condemned the protest, calling it a disruption by non-affiliated individuals.
  • The incident raises concerns about police use of force against campus demonstrations.
  • The event sparked criticism from officials, rights groups, and the local community.