National News from ABC

College protests live updates: Hundreds arrested as universities crack down on pro-Palestinian encampments

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Protests have broken out at colleges and universities across the country in connection with the war in Gaza.


Many pro-Palestinian protesters are calling for their colleges to divest of funds from Israeli military operations, while some Jewish students on the campuses have called the protests antisemitic and said they are scared for their safety.

The student protests — some of which have turned into around-the-clock encampments — have erupted throughout the nation following arrests and student removals at Columbia University in New York City. Students at schools including Yale University, New York University, Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California and more have launched protests.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Apr 26, 9:07 AM
Students arrested, charged with trespass at Ohio State University

Students were arrested and charged with trespass at Ohio State University after refusing to leave a pro-Palestinian encampment late Thursday.

“Well established university rules prohibit camping and overnight events. Demonstrators exercised their first amendment rights for several hours and were then instructed to disperse. Individuals who refused to leave after multiple warnings were arrested and charged with criminal trespass,” the university said in a statement to ABC News.

Videos show protesters chanting and tussling with officers outside the Ohio State University student union building. In another video, police can be heard issuing a loudspeaker warning to a dispersing crowd at OSU as a helicopter flies overhead.

Another video shows an officer tackling someone to the ground as other officers force people back and another person falls to the ground.

Apr 26, 12:52 AM
Columbia University says talks with protesters ‘remain ongoing’

Columbia University sent a message to the community late Thursday night, saying discussions with student protesters are “ongoing.”

“The talks have shown progress and are continuing as planned,” Columbia said in its message.

“For several days, a small group of faculty, administrators, and University Senators have been in dialogue with student organizers to discuss the basis for dismantling the encampment, dispersing, and following University policies going forward,” the message continued. “We have our demands; they have theirs. A formal process is underway and continues.”

Apr 25, 9:15 PM
DPS says they used a Taser, pepper balls at Emory, but not tear gas

Georgia’s Department of Public Service said they used a Taser and pepper balls as they attempted to control the crowd of protesters at Emory University but did not use tear gas.

DPS released an accounting of their response on campus just a short while ago.

“On April 25, 2024, at 8:30 am, the Emory Police Department and Atlanta Police Department requested the assistance of DPS with an encampment protest at Emory University. Georgia State Troopers and Motor Carrier Officers responded to break up the encampment but were met with protestors who threw bottles and refused to leave,” the statement began.

“As Troopers and Officers began to take the protestors into custody, one actively resisted arrest,” DPS said, noting they used a Taser on the individual as they “continued to resist.”

DPS said during its response to the encampment, “Troopers deployed pepper balls to control the unruly crowd but did not use tear gas.”

Charges are being handled by the Emory Police Department, DPS said.

Apr 25, 7:52 PM
Person tased by police at Emory protest not affiliated with school: Administrator

Cheryl Elliott, Emory University’s vice president for public safety, provided an update to the school community on the incident that took place between police and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Elliot addressed the viral video of officers using a stun gun on one of the protesters when the encampment was dispersed and said the person in the video did not appear to be affiliated with Emory.

“Based on current information, this individual is not a member of the Emory community,” Elliot said.

Elliot said, “Due to the direct assault of officers, law enforcement released chemical irritants into the ground to assist with crowd control.”

Twenty-eight people were arrested during the incident, 20 of whom were affiliated with the university, according to Elliot.

“We are working with responding agencies to expedite the release of any Emory community members who remain in custody,” she said in her letter to the Emory community.

Apr 25, 5:54 PM
Columbia University enhancing security due to planned protests

Columbia University said it is enhancing security along the campus’ perimeter after it was made aware of several “potentially significant” protests planned outside the gates of its Manhattan campus Thursday evening.

The New York City Police Department is adding officers “to maintain safety” and people are being asked to avoid the area, the university said in a message to the school community. The protests are expected to start around 6 p.m. ET., it said.

The campus remains restricted to Columbia University ID holders.

The university is in formal discussions with student protesters regarding dismantling an encampment on campus, a university spokesperson said.

Apr 25, 4:29 PM
UT demonstrators arrested Wednesday won’t face charges at this time

Demonstrators who were arrested Wednesday at the University of Texas will not be facing charges at this time and have been ordered released due to deficiencies in probable cause, according to the Travis County Attorney’s Office.

Fifty-five people were arrested — 26 of whom were unaffiliated with UT Austin — the university said Thursday.

“This outside group presence is what we’ve seen from the affiliated national organization’s efforts to disrupt and create disorder,” the university said in a statement.

The attorney’s office said it received several cases Wednesday after the demonstration at UT Austin.

“Legal concerns were raised by defense counsel. We individually reviewed each case that was presented and agreed there were deficiencies in the probable cause affidavits. The Court affirmed and ordered the release of those individuals. We will continue to individually review all cases presented to our office to determine whether prosecution is factually and legally appropriate,” the Travis County Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Apr 25, 4:16 PM
Northeastern says it will ‘take action’ against demonstrators

Northeastern University in Boston said it will “take action accordingly” against pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrating on its Centennial Quad on Thursday.

“The quads on Northeastern’s Boston campus are reserved by the division of Student Life for scheduled university events,” a university spokesperson said in a statement. “Students currently demonstrating on Centennial Quad do not have authorization and are in violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Those who are not affiliated with Northeastern are trespassing. The university will take action accordingly.”

Apr 25, 3:59 PM
Main USC graduation ceremony canceled

The University of Southern California has canceled its main graduation ceremony, the school announced Thursday.

“With the new safety measures in place this year, the time needed to process the large number of guests coming to campus will increase substantially,” the school said in a statement. “As a result, we will not be able to host the main stage ceremony that traditionally brings 65,000 students, families, and friends to our campus all at the same time and during a short window from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.”

The individual school commencement ceremonies will continue as planned, it said.

The decision comes after USC had previously canceled this year’s valedictorian speech while citing potential threats regarding the selection of the valedictorian, who expressed pro-Palestinian views on social media. It subsequently canceled all commencement speakers.

Apr 25, 3:49 PM
Emory encampment cleared after dozens taken into custody: University

Law enforcement cleared a quad at Emory University where students had erected an encampment, the Atlanta university said.

A “couple of dozen people” were taken into custody, the university said. It did not have information on exactly how many people were taken into custody or what charges, if any, have been filed.

Emory previously said that dozens of protesters who were not part of the school community had trespassed onto the campus early Thursday morning and erected tents on the quad. Some members of the school community later joined, it said.

“Emory Police issued multiple warnings asking the crowd to disperse. When those requests were ignored, Atlanta Police and Georgia State Patrol assisted Emory Police with clearing the Quad,” the university said.

Footage showed officers escorting detained protesters off campus, including in one case appearing to deploy a stun gun on an individual handcuffed on the ground.

Apr 25, 3:14 PM
Encampment erected at UCLA

The University of California, Los Angeles said it is “actively monitoring” a demonstration after students erected an encampment Thursday morning.

“Our top priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our entire Bruin community,” Mary Osako, a UCLA spokesperson, said in a statement. “We’re actively monitoring this situation to support a peaceful campus environment that respects our community’s right to free expression while minimizing disruption to our teaching and learning mission.”

Access to the campus’ Royce Hall and Powell Library has been restricted to students who present ID, the university said.

Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California Los Angeles, one of the organizers of the encampment, called on the university to divest of funds from Israeli military operations and said in a social media post that they are “staying until our demands are met.”

Apr 25, 2:24 PM
Brown University students start encampment, will face conduct proceedings

Brown University students began an encampment on campus Wednesday, with a student group warning other students that the university is threatening to crack down on protesters.

“Brown admin is using unprecedented repressive tactics to prevent peaceful student protest. They are doing random ID sweeps to identify people and threatening disciplinary action,” the Brown Divest Coalition said in a statement on Instagram.

Students participating in the encampment “have been informed they will face conduct proceedings,” Brown said in a statement to ABC News, because the encampment on the university’s “greens” is a violation of policies. Brown added it has supported previous protests and activism on campus, including a hunger strike, that were “within the bounds of our policies.”

“Protest is an acceptable means of expression at Brown, but it becomes unacceptable when it violates University policies that are intended to ensure the safety and security of members of the Brown community and that there is no interference in the rights of others to engage in the regular operations of the university. Early on Wednesday and periodically since, the University asked all participants in the encampment to present their Brown IDs to verify association with Brown for safety and security reasons and to appropriately address violations of policy,” Brown said in a statement to ABC News.

“University administrators and the Department of Public Safety will continually monitor the situation and act as necessary. We have been troubled by reports of violence, harassment and intimidation at some encampments on other campuses, but we have not seen that kind of behavior at Brown. Any such behavior would not be tolerated,” Brown said.

Apr 25, 12:21 PM
Video shows several people being detained by police at Emory University

Videos show several people being detained by police at Emory University in Atlanta on Thursday.

Student groups say they launched an encampment for Gaza at 7:30 a.m., demanding a “total divestment from Israeli apartheid and cop city,” in a post on Instagram. The group said the encampment is “open to everyone.”

The Emory Police Department contacted Atlanta police and Georgia State Patrol for assistance, according to Emory.

“Several dozen protesters trespassed into Emory University’s campus early Thursday morning and set up tents on the Quad. These individuals are not members of our community. They are activists attempting to disrupt our university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals,” Emory University said in a statement to ABC News.

“Emory does not tolerate vandalism or other criminal activity on campus,” Emory said.

Apr 25, 11:29 AM
Northwestern University students set up pro-Palestinian encampment

Students at Northwestern University began setting up an encampment on campus grounds Thursday morning, joining the growing list of students across the country demanding their schools divest from Israel and companies that support its campaign on Gaza.

Northwestern says setting up a tent encampment is “prohibited” under university policies and campus police are at the encampment, working to have the tents removed.

“Students who refuse to remove their tents will be subject to arrest and their tents will be removed by the University. Community members who do not adhere to University policies will face discipline,” Northwestern University told ABC News in a statement.

“Northwestern is committed to the principles of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – and to protecting the safety of all members of our community, as well as limiting disruptions to University operations,” Northwestern said.

The Northwestern University Divestment Coalition, a student group, says protesters are refusing to leave their encampment.

Videos and posts posted by other student groups on Instagram show police responding to the scene, warning students that they will begin issuing citations and arrests if they do not leave.

Apr 25, 9:09 AM
Princeton students begin encampment on campus

Princeton University students began a Gaza solidarity encampment on Thursday, demanding the university divest from Israel and that Israel end its campaign on Gaza.

The students are also calling for an academic boycott of Israel and Israeli universities — including ending study abroad programs with Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, students said in a statement.

“Princeton students stand in solidarity with Columbia University’s Gaza Solidarity Encampment, launched on April 17. They strongly condemn the decisions of Columbia University, Yale University, New York University, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and Cal Poly Humboldt’s administrations to employ militarized police against their own students and demand the immediate release of all arrested students, the immediate dropping of all charges, and the immediate revocation of suspensions and evictions,” students said in a statement.

“Despite the systematic repression of pro-Palestinian voices, students will continue to stand their ground,” students said.

Apr 25, 8:57 AM
108 protesters arrested, four police officers injured as Emerson encampment cleared

More than 100 people were arrested and four police officers were injured early Thursday when Boston police moved to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment at Emerson College. It is one of several set up by students at Massachusetts colleges including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

Three of the officers suffered minor injuries and a fourth officer suffered more serious injuries, according to Boston police.

None of the protesters in custody have reported injuries, according to police. The protesters will be arraigned at Boston Municipal Court.

Apr 25, 1:11 AM
93 arrested following protest at USC

Police arrested 93 people on and around the University of Southern California campus, mostly on misdemeanor trespass Wednesday night.

The university declared the campus closed in the afternoon, open only to students with their USC IDs at pedestrian gates, due to what USC said “significant activity at the center of campus.”

On Wednesday night, LAPD Captain Kelly Muniz told ABC News that around 35 protesters had been processed for misdemeanor trespass. Several dozen more were waiting to be processed, Muniz said.

There was an altercation in one portion of the protest area that resulted in one arrest for assault with a deadly weapon, according to Muniz.

There are no known injuries to police or protesters.

The scene will be cleared some time tonight., Muniz said.

Apr 24, 10:59 PM
At least 34 arrested at UT Austin

At least 34 people had been arrested at the University of Texas at Austin as of 9 p.m. local time, according to the Texas Department of Safety.

“Today, our University held firm, enforcing our rules while protecting the Constitutional right to free speech. Peaceful protests within our rules are acceptable,” University President Jay Hartzell said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“Breaking our rules and policies and disrupting others’ ability to learn are not allowed. The group that led this protest stated it was going to violate Institutional Rules. Our rules matter, and they will be enforced. Our University will not be occupied,” Hartzell said.

“There is a way to exercise freedom of speech and civil discourse, and our Office of the Dean of Students has continued to offer ways to ensure protests can happen within the rules,” Hartzell continued.

The dispersal order ended shortly after 9 p.m. and the campus was deemed “all clear,” Austin Police said on X.

Apr 24, 9:08 PM
Dispersal order issued at USC amid protests

Campus police have issued a dispersal order at the University of Southern California amid ongoing protests over the Israel-Hamas war.

LAPD officers have surrounded Alumni Park on campus, and while much of the crowd has dispersed, an estimated group of 50 protesters remain in the park.

In an update shared on X Wednesday evening, the university’s Department of Public Safety said, “If you are in the center of campus, please leave; LAPD will be arresting people who don’t disperse.”

Apr 24, 7:11 PM
House Speaker calls on Columbia president to resign if she can’t control protests

During a visit to Columbia University, House Speaker Mike Johnson joined his New York House Republican colleagues in calling on the school’s president, Minouche Shafik, to resign unless she can improve what he called her failure to handle the anti-Israel protests on campus.

During the news conference on the university’s campus, Johnson said Shafik should step down “if she can’t immediately bring order to this chaos.”

“As speaker of the House, I am committing today that the Congress will not be silent as Jewish students are expected to run for their lives and stay home from — fighting in fear,” Johnson said.

The scene at the news conference was rowdy itself, as Johnson and other House Republicans got booed and heckled throughout — their words sometimes nearly drowned out by shouting from the crowd.

Shafik, who met with Johnson on Wednesday, and the rest of the university administration are committed to ensuring the safety of the campus community and ending the encampment, Columbia spokesman Ben Chang said in a briefing with reporters later on Wednesday.

Apr 24, 6:44 PM
USC updates community on protest, campus shutdown

Andrew T. Guzman, the provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Southern California, sent a letter to the school’s students, faculty and other members with an update on the situation taking place on campus.

Guzman reiterated the university “values freedom of expression and protects the right of every member of our community to express themselves,” but added, “We have well-established policies regarding limits on the time, place, and manner of free expression.”

Guzman said the call to shut down the campus stemmed from a confrontation between protesters outside the Doheny Library and security. Security members asked the protesters, many of whom Guzman said weren’t affiliated with USC, to leave and remove tents they set up, but the protesters refused, according to the school.

“Their actions have escalated to the point of confrontation and have threatened the safety of our officers and campus community,” Guzman said.

Until further notice, only people with “USC identification or verifiable business purpose will be able to access campus, attend classes, and participate in activities” will be allowed on campus, according to Guzman.

“In these challenging times, we call on the Trojan Family to remember that every member of our community is deserving of respect, has the right to be safe on campus, take classes, and participate in other campus activities without fear of harassment or bullying. It should be everyone’s priority to treat each other with kindness and care,” he said.

Apr 24, 6:09 PM
Columbia administrators deny rumors of National Guard deployment

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik and administrators said they are committed to ensuring the campus community’s safety and ending the encampment following their meeting with House Speaker Mike Johnson, a school spokesman told the press.

Ben Chang, the school’s vice president of the Office of Public Affairs, told reporters that the encampment on the west lawn has raised serious safety concerns, but the university has been in a dialogue with students on ending it and those discussions will be “successful.”

He refuted rumors that the National Guard would become involved and called those reports false and “unsubstantiated.” Chang said that the university has been in contact with the NYPD and will continue to be going forward.

The university will have to consider “alternative options” to end the encampment in time for graduation, according to Chang.

Protesters so far have already committed to dismantling “a significant number” of tents and only Columbia students will be involved in the encampment at this point, he added.

For the time being, the Morningside campus will only be open for people with a Columbia ID, Chang said.

Apr 24, 6:06 PM
At least 20 arrested at UT Austin

At least 20 people have been arrested at the University of Texas at Austin, according to the school.

“UT Austin does not tolerate disruptions of campus activities or operations like we have seen at other campuses,” the UT Division of Student Affairs said in a statement. “This is an important time in our semester with students finishing classes and studying for finals and we will act first and foremost to allow those critical functions to proceed without interruption.”

The University of Texas at Austin’s Office of the Dean of Students sent a letter to the Palestine Solidarity Committee Tuesday night saying the protest was not allowed to take place.

“The Palestine Solidarity Committee student organization’s event ‘Popular University for Gaza,’ which is planned for tomorrow, has declared intent to violate our policies and rules, and disrupt our campus operations. Such disruptions are never allowed and are especially damaging while our students prepare for the end of the semester and final exams. For these reasons, this event may not proceed as planned,” the letter, obtained by ABC News, stated.

Apr 24, 5:34 PM
White House condemns antisemitism, defends free speech on college campuses

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed on Wednesday the ongoing student protests taking place at Columbia University and other colleges across the country.

During the daily press briefing, Jean-Pierre reiterated the administration’s condemnation of antisemitism.

“When we see violent rhetoric, we have to call that out. When we see physical intimidation or grotesque antisemitic remarks, we have to speak that out,” she told reporters.

When asked whether the administration shares the view of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who called on the president of Columbia University to resign, Jean-Pierre declined to comment saying, “Columbia is a private institution.”

“That is obviously the speaker’s privilege to speak for himself and what he sees,” she said.

“This is a deeply painful, painful moment for many communities, and we understand that. But the president believes that free speech debate and nondiscrimination on college campuses are important. They’re important American values,” Jean-Pierre said.

Apr 24, 4:50 PM
USC closes campus to public as protesters clash with police

The University of Southern California said it will be closing its campus to the public with “significant activity at the center of the [main] campus due to a demonstration,” it said in a post on X.

“The gates are closed, so anyone coming to campus should be prepared to show an ID at the gates for class or for business,” USC said.

Apr 24, 4:21 PM
USC pro-Palestinian rally turns chaotic after police confront protesters: KABC

A rally by pro-Palestinian protesters at USC became chaotic after campus police confronted people who tried to set up an encampment at the school’s Alumni Park, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV. The university’s commencement ceremony is scheduled to occur in Alumni Park on May 10.

Last week, USC canceled the valedictorian’s speech out of safety concerns considering her pro-Palestinian views, sparking backlash. The student, Asna Tabassum, is a first-generation South Asian-American Muslim who majored in biomedical engineering and minored in resistance to genocide, according to a statement published through the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Dozens of students and others have issued a list of demands, including the university’s divestment, similar to demands from students on other campuses, according to KABC.

USC police officers began attempting to clear the encampment of tents and signs before Los Angeles Police Department officers joined the effort, according to KABC

Apr 24, 3:57 PM
Harvard University students begin encampment in Harvard Yard

Pro-Palestinian students at Harvard University began an encampment in Harvard Yard on Wednesday, despite the university closing it through Friday.

The encampment comes after Harvard suspended the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee — an on-campus group that has been under a spotlight — amid debates on campuses over the war. The ACLU of Massachusetts, which represents the group, has called for the university to lift the suspension.

Students and student workers released a statement Wednesday announcing their encampment, calling for the university to divest and accusing it of “relentlessly suppress[ing] voices in its community speaking out against the actions of the Israeli state and for the rights of the Palestinian people,” the suspended group said in a statement on Instagram.

The group is also demanding that the university “drop all its charges against students for their organizing and activism, and commit to ending the weaponization of disciplinary policy,” the statement said.

Apr 24, 3:45 PM
Troopers call for protesters to disperse at UT Austin

Students at the University of Texas at Austin began protesting on campus calling for a divestment, resembling encampments set up at Columbia and Yale University. A similar encampment was set up at New York University before police arrested over 130 students and faculty Monday.

Texas State Troopers were seen marching through campus calling for protesters to disperse.

“Early on Monday, we learned of a plan for a large-scale anti-Israel protest on our UT campus during Passover,” Texas Hillel, the center for Jewish Life on campus, said in a statement on Instagram. “The timing of this protest is not lost on us – making use of a Jewish holiday and observance to promote a hateful agenda – and we quickly contacted our university and security partners to begin coordinating a response plan to keep our campus and our students safe.”

Austin’s Palestine Solidarity Committee wrote on Instagram that “students were welcomed by a draconian police presence, refusing to allow them to use their campus space for political speech.”

The Austin Police Department told ABC News its role is only in assisting the UT Police Department, the main agency responding to the campus events. Austin police noted that the Texas Department of Public Safety is also assisting.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

On Air Now

Now Playing On X101

Download The X101 App


Site Designed & Hosted by Eves Digital