The police were deployed on Wednesday May 1 on several American campuses, where new arrests took place, after intervening in Los Angeles and New York, scenes of student mobilization against the war in Gaza which is shaking the United States.

At the University of Texas at Dallas, police dismantled a protest camp on Wednesday and arrested at least seventeen people for “criminal trespass,” the establishment announced.

Law enforcement also arrested several people at New York’s Fordham University and evacuated a camp set up on campus in the morning, officials said. Around 300 people were also arrested in New York on two university sites, the city police detailed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Military hand

During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the police manu militari dislodged pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded in a building of the prestigious Columbia University in Manhattan, from where the student mobilization in support of Gaza started.

“The police were brutal and aggressive with them,” Meghnad Bose, a Columbia student who witnessed the scene, assured Agence France-Presse (AFP). “They arrested people randomly (…), several students were injured to the point that they had to be hospitalized,” denounced a coalition of pro-Palestinian student groups from Columbia in an Instagram post. “I regret that we have reached this point,” reacted Minouche Shafik, the president of the university, on Wednesday.

The demonstrators are fighting “for an important cause”, but the recent “acts of destruction” carried out by “students and external activists” led her to resort to the police, she explained, denouncing by elsewhere “anti-Semitic remarks” made during these gatherings.

Other encampments were also dismantled early Wednesday on the campuses of the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the southwest and north of the country, respectively, according to local media. .

Call to cut ties with companies linked to Israel

For two weeks, mobilizations in support of Gaza have multiplied across the United States, from California to major universities in the northeast, reminiscent of demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Students call on establishments to cut ties with patrons or companies linked to Israel, and denounce Washington’s support for its Israeli ally.

On the campus of UCLA University in Los Angeles, clashes broke out during the night when a large group of counter-protesters, many masked, attacked a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on a lawn, according to an AFP photographer .

The attackers attempted to break through an improvised barricade around the encampment. Demonstrators and counter-protesters then clashed with sticks and threw projectiles at each other. On Wednesday morning, calm had returned, but dozens of police cars were still present.

“The university needs to dissuade counter-protesters from attacking those who are peaceful,” Daniel Harris, a 23-year-old student, told AFP, adding that the attackers “did not look like students or people with a any connection with the university.”

The president of the establishment, Gene D. Block, had warned before this violence against the presence of people from outside the campus. On Sunday, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists, supported by numerous demonstrators from outside, came to blows, with shoving and insults. “These incidents have caused, especially among our Jewish students, deep anxiety and fear,” he added.

Arrests on at least thirty sites

Unlike other institutions, Brown University in the state of Rhode Island announced that it had reached an agreement with the demonstrators. This provides for the dismantling of their encampment in exchange for a university vote in October on possible “divestment” from “companies that enable and profit from the genocide in Gaza”.

According to an AFP count, the police have carried out arrests on at least thirty university sites since April 17. Images of riot police intervening on campuses have gone around the world and are causing strong reactions in the political world, six months before the presidential election in a polarized country. The White House on Wednesday condemned a “small percentage of students causing disorder.”

“Students have the right to go to class and feel safe,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, spokesperson for the executive, adding: “We will continue to emphasize that it is necessary to denounce anti-Semitism. » At a rally in Wisconsin, former President Donald Trump said that “New York was under siege last night.” President Joe Biden “should speak out,” he said.