Campus Fires Erupt as Israel-Hamas War Ignites US Protests


Anti-Israel Protests Disrupt College Commencements Amidst Campus Unrest

The Intensity and Impact Varied

Anti-Israel demonstrations have escalated during commencement ceremonies across the United States, marking the culmination of weeks of protests ignited by the Israel-Hamas conflict. The protests ranged in intensity, with some graduating students engaging in disruptive behavior while others opted for silent demonstrations.

Silent and Solemn Demonstrations

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a small group of demonstrators staged a silent protest during commencement, carrying a Palestinian flag through the rear of Camp Randall Stadium. The demonstration was part of a larger agreement between protesters and the university, whereby demonstrators would dismantle their encampment and refrain from disrupting graduation ceremonies in exchange for opportunities to engage with decision-makers about university investments.

Disruptive Actions

Virginia Commonwealth University

During Governor Glenn Youngkin’s commencement speech at Virginia Commonwealth University, dozens of graduating students and their families walked out of the auditorium, expressing support for Palestinians and opposing Youngkin’s education policies.

University of Arizona

Police at the University of Arizona used tear gas to disperse protesters and dismantle an encampment on campus ahead of commencement celebrations. Vehicles were spiked and officers were targeted with rocks and water bottles, prompting the university to justify the response.

University of Texas, Austin

At the University of Texas, Austin, a commotion ensued during the commencement ceremony when a student refused to leave the stage after holding up a Palestinian flag. The student was eventually escorted away by security. After commencement, graduate students, faculty, and demonstrators gathered, holding a “Free Palestine” flag and with hands painted red in protest.

Red Paint at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Several hours before the commencement ceremony at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, anti-Israel protesters splashed red paint on the steps of the building housing the chancellor’s office. The protesters also staged a silent protest on the lawn, chanting and calling for a moment of silence in honor of those killed in Gaza.

Hundreds Protest at University of California, Berkeley

The commencement ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley was disrupted by a large crowd of anti-Israel protesters waving flags and chanting. The protesters, many of whom were graduating students in caps and gowns, were escorted to the back of the stadium, where they were joined by others.

Walkout at Duke University

At Duke University, a group of graduating students staged a walkout during comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s commencement speech, chanting “free Palestine.” Some students carried Palestinian flags as they left the stadium, while others cheered for Seinfeld as he received his honorary degree.

Law Enforcement and Arrests

According to the Associated Press, there have been at least 75 instances since April 18 where arrests were made at U.S. campus protests related to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Nearly 2,900 people have been arrested at 57 colleges and universities.

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