University of Michigan clears pro-Hamas encampment

Officers deployed pepper spray and began dismantling their tents, with at least one non-student getting arrested for assaulting an officer.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The University of Michigan on Tuesday morning cleared a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” with the help of law enforcement, the school’s president, Santa Ono, has confirmed.

The action followed a nearly month-long occupation of The Diag section of campus by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) — an anti-Zionist group — during which both students and non-students destroyed school property, disrupted university business, and amassed outside the homes of school officials.

An inspection of the encampment by the local fire marshal prompted the university to quell the demonstration as soon as possible, Ono said on Tuesday.

The marshal determined that SAFE’s “overloading power sources” and “using open flames” after repeatedly being told not to do so could have started a fire that resulted in “catastrophic loss of life.”

Police struggled to gain compliance with their order to vacate the area, according to footage of their engagement with the protesters which emerged on social media.

After police approached the encampment clad in riot gear, the protesters began chanting and, locking arms with one another, tensing up for a fight.

In response, the officers deployed pepper spray and began dismantling their tents. At least one non-student was arrested for assaulting an officer.

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“Moving forward, individuals will be welcome to protest as they always have at the University of Michigan, so long as those protests don’t violate the rights of others and are consistent with university policies meant to ensure the safety of our community,” Ono said in Tuesday’s statement.

“To be clear, there is no place for violence or intimidation at the University of Michigan. Such behavior will not be tolerated, and individuals will be held accountable.”

He added, “We must find productive ways to engage with one another. We must leverage facts and reason in a spirit of open debate and find ways to work toward solutions. If we can manage to do that here — a place that is home to some of the most brilliant minds in the country — then our state, nation, and world will continue to benefit from the diverse perspectives that our university brings together on the most important issues of our day.”

Following the clearing of the encampment, SAFE alleged that law enforcement had “brutalized” the protesters and announced a new demonstration outside the Washtenaw County Jail, where the arrested protesters are being processed.

“Please meet us there,” the group said.

The University of Michigan is one of over 100 schools where anti-Zionists took over sections of campus and refused to leave unless school administrators agreed to condemn and boycott Israel.

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Footage of the demonstrations has shown the protesters chanting in support of Hamas, calling for the destruction of Israel, and even threatening to harm members of the Jewish community on campus.

In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

In the past three weeks, law enforcement has cleared encampments at Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, and George Washington University, among other schools.

In some instances, faculty — dozens of whom attached themselves to the demonstrations — attempted to prevent police from restoring order, resulting in their arrest.

That happened, for example, at Emory University in Atlanta, where economics professor Caroline Fohlin intervened to stop the arrest of a student.

In response, officers tackled her to the ground while she said repeatedly, “I’m a professor!”

Meanwhile, at Northeastern University in Boston, professors formed a human barrier around a student encampment to stop it from being dismantled by officers, and at the University of Texas at Austin, members of the group Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine called for the resignation of their president, Jay Hartzell, because he requested police assistance.

Mass participation of faculty in pro-Hamas demonstrations marks an inflection point in American history, according to Asaf Romirowsky, an expert on the Middle East and executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

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Since the 1960s, he told The Algemeiner earlier this month, far-left “scholar activists” have gradually seized control of the higher education system, tailoring admissions processes and the curricula to foster ideological radicalism and conformity, which students then carry with them into careers in government, law, corporate America, and education.

This system, he concluded, must be challenged.

“The cost of trading scholarship for political propagandizing has been a zeal and pride among faculty who esteem and cheer terrorism, a historical development which is quite telling and indicative of the evolution of the Marxist ideology which has been seeping into the academy since the 1960s,” Romirowsky said.

“The message is very clear to all of us who are looking on from the outside at this, and institutions have to begin drawing a red line. The protests are not about free speech. They are about supporting terrorism, about calling for a genocide of Jews.”