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Protests at universities in the USA. Police detained many students, Joe Biden spoke out

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California police clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of California, Los Angeles, dismantling a sprawling encampment and detaining dozens of students. Similar actions were carried out at other universities, and over two thousand people have been detained throughout the country. This is exactly what activists want, says the Economist. President Biden spoke more broadly on this matter for the first time.

According to the Associated Press, at least two thousand pro-Palestinian protesters were detained at 32 universities in the United States. The agency reports that the detained include students, researchers and people not associated with universities.

As the weekly “Economist” writes, the number of detained students will probably increase in the coming weeks. A second round of these confrontations with police could take place during the Democratic Party convention in Chicago in August and could be much more violent.

The situation is very difficult for university rectors and administrations as Republican members of Congress are trying to get them fired for allegedly tolerating anti-Semitism. Donors are threatening to withdraw funds. Politicians expect them to both defend freedom of speech and create an environment conducive to learning and research.

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Pro-Palestinian protest at Stanford UniversityJOHN G. MABANGLO/PAP/EPA

In practice, finding the right way to deal with these protests is very difficult – says the British weekly. The American right, which for years has criticized prestigious universities for excessive liberalism, now wants to silence students with the help of the National Guard. The left, which equated politically incorrect words with aggression, now wants to tolerate calls for violence – writes the Economist.

They are counting on arrest

There are no easy solutions, but it should be taken into account that “the essence of civil disobedience is sometimes getting arrested, hoping that the unwise use of force will attract attention to the case and gain sympathy,” says the weekly.

In the popular science magazine “Scientific American”, Bryden King, a sociologist and specialist in social movements from Northwestern University, writes that activists have improved techniques of protest and putting pressure on university authorities and public opinion. Some of their current tactics, such as setting up camps for campus occupiers, are a repeat of the anti-apartheid protests of the 1980s.

University administrations do not pay attention to the fact that the use of police against demonstrators “only further mobilizes students.” “These ill-advised efforts add fuel to the fire and further escalate the protests by drawing attention to them,” King said. – And this attention is the fuel of activists – he adds.

The more attention student demonstrations attract, the “more pressure they can put” on university authorities. – University administrations that act prudently and restrained, give protests time and space to act (…), have a greater chance for constructive dialogue – emphasizes the sociologist.

Biden: Aggressive protests are not protected by law

President Joe Biden spoke for the first time in more detail about the weeks-long protests, which have paralyzed the work of many universities and led to clashes with the police and between supporters of both sides of the conflict.

– We have all seen these images and they test two fundamental American principles: the first is freedom of speech, the right to peaceful assembly and to be heard. The second is the rule of law. Both must be respected, Joe Biden said during a previously unannounced speech at the White House regarding protests at universities.

– We are not an authoritarian state where people are silenced or dissent is suppressed. But we are not a lawless state and order must prevail, he added.

Previously, Biden only condemned anti-Semitic incidents during the demonstrations and at the same time those “who don't know what is happening to the Palestinians.”

On Thursday, the president said that although he supports peaceful protests, the law does not protect those demonstrations that involve violence, intimidation of students, vandalism or force the closure of universities.

– None of this is a peaceful protest. It's against the law. Opposition is necessary for democracy, but it cannot lead to disorder or depriving others of their rights so that students can complete the semester and their education, he emphasized.

Police action at the university

California police clashed with participants of a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of California, Los Angeles on Thursday morning, dismantling a sprawling encampment and detaining dozens of students. Similar activities were carried out at a number of other universities.

According to the Washington Post, the operation of the California State Police began before 5 a.m. local time, when it was still dark. The police used stun grenades and started detaining students occupying part of the campus, packing them into buses.

Police dismantled a pro-Palestinian student encampment at UCLAALLISON DINNER/PAP/EPA

According to CNN, during the action, which towards the end turned into violent clashes, officers shot rubber bullets at protesters. The exact number of those arrested is unknown. The camp, which occupied the area of ​​a football field, was dismantled and the police took control of it about three hours after the operation began.

A small town of pro-Palestinian protesters stood on the college campus for a week. Initially, the protest was peaceful, but in recent days there have been clashes between protesters and pro-Israel counter-demonstrations. On Tuesday, university authorities declared the camp illegal and canceled classes on Wednesday.

On Thursday, police also entered similar camps and arrested students at other universities, including: in Dartmouth, New Hampshire, where 90 people were detained, as well as at Fordham and Stony Brook universities in New York, Yale in Connecticut, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Texas at Dallas. In total, pro-Palestinian protests are taking place at over a hundred universities across the country.

Main photo source: ALLISON DINNER/PAP/EPA

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