Police break up pro-Palestine camp at the University of Michigan

Michigan University President Santa Ono claims that the encampment has become a public safety concern due to overloaded powerlines and open flames
Police break up pro-Palestinian camp at the University of Michigan
The encampment was put up in late April, around the end of the academic year.EdexLive

Police dismantled a pro-Palestinian campsite at the University of Michigan today, Tuesday, May 21, less than a week after demonstrators allegedly showed up at a school official's home and left fake body bags on the lawn.

Police moved protesters away from the Diag camp, a popular spot for university protests, according to a video released online by Detroit-area TV stations.

The encampment was put up in late April, around the end of the academic year.

Public safety concerns?

According to President Santa Ono, the encampment has become a concern to public safety due to overloaded power lines and open flames, PTI reports.

Following a fire marshal inspection, organisers failed to cooperate with instructions to make changes, he said.

“The disregard for safety directives was only the latest in a series of troubling events,” Ono said.

University barely has endowments to Israel, says President

Protesters demanded that the school's endowment cease investing in companies with ties to Israel.

However, the university says that it has no direct investments and has placed less than $15 million in funds that may include Israeli enterprises.

This is less than 0.1 per cent of the overall endowment.

“There's nothing to talk about. That issue is settled,” Sarah Hubbard, Chair of the Board of Regents, said last week.

Accusations of antisemetism
A group of 30 demonstrators arrived at her house before dawn last week and laid packed, red-stained sheets on her lawn to simulate body bags, to symbolise the loss of human life in Palestine as a result of Israel's military onslaught following Hamas' attack on October 7, 2023.

They beat a drum and screamed slogans over a megaphone.

Masked protestors also left demands on the doors of other board members.

“This conduct is where our failure to address antisemitism leads literally – literally – to the front door of my home,” board member Mark Bernstein, a Detroit-area lawyer, said at a board meeting last week. 

“Who's next? When and where will this end? As a Jew, I know the answer to these questions because our experience is full of tragedies that we are at grave risk of repeating. Enough is enough,” he added. 

Many Jewish students and organisations were also a part of the encampments, expressing their support for a free Palestine. 

Students and others have set up tent encampments on college campuses across the country to pressure institutions to terminate financial connections with Israel.

Tensions over the war have been high on campuses since the autumn, but demonstrations erupted swiftly after the police attacked an encampment at Columbia University on April 18.

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