Sunday, June 23, 2024
27 C
Brunei Town

Police break up pro-Palestinian camp at University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR (AP) – Police broke up a pro-Palestinian encampment yesterday at the University of Michigan, less than a week after demonstrators showed up at the home of a school official and placed fake body bags on her lawn.

Officers wearing helmets with face shields moved in before sunrise to clear the Diag, known for decades as a site for campus protests. Video posted online showed police at times using what appeared to be an irritant to spray people, who were forced to retreat.

The encampment had been set up in late April near the end of the school year and as families arrived for spring commencement. Posters taunting President Santa Ono and other officials were also displayed.

After the camp was cleared, nearby buildings, including the undergraduate and graduate libraries, were closed, and police turned away students who showed up to study.

Ono said in a statement that the encampment had become a threat to safety, with overloaded power sources and open flames.

Organisers, he added, had refused to comply with requests to make changes following an inspection by a fire marshal.

“The disregard for safety directives was only the latest in a series of troubling events centred on an encampment that has always violated the rules that govern the Diag – especially the rules that ensure the space is available to everyone,” Ono said.

Students and others have set up tent encampments on campuses around the country to press colleges to cut financial ties with Israel.

Tensions over the war have been high on campuses since the fall, but demonstrations spread quickly following an April 18 police crackdown on an encampment at Columbia University. Arrests at campuses have surpassed the 3,000 mark nationwide.

Drexel University in Philadelphia threatened on Monday to clear an encampment with the campus on lockdown and classes being held virtually as police kept watch over the demonstration.

Many Drexel employees were told to work from home. President John Fry said late on Monday that the encampment had disrupted campus life and “cannot be allowed to remain in place.”

ABOVE & BELOW: University of Michigan campus police block an area where a pro-Palestinian encampment had been set up since late April. PHOTO: AP