Pro-Palestinian supporters detained by police at encampment on Yale University plaza

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Pro-Palestinian supporters detained by police at encampment on Yale University plaza

Police officers on Monday arrested protesters who had set up an encampment on Yale University’s campus in support of the Palestinian cause, one of a growing number of American universities to see demonstrations surrounding the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Protesters had been on their third night of camping out in an effort to urge Yale to divest from military weapons manufacturers, the Yale Daily News reported. 

Officers gathered at the protest site at Beinecke Plaza shortly before 7 a.m. Monday and were seen approaching the encampment and “flipping up the entrances to the tents,” the school paper wrote on X.

Then officers issued a warning for students and journalists to leave, or they’d be arrested.

Minutes later, the school paper wrote on X that police were arresting people. Yale Police Lt. Roosevelt Martinez told the paper that students involved in the protests were arrested for trespassing.

In total, 47 students were issued summonses, Yale said in a statement Monday.  

The university said protesters were asked to leave and remove their belongings after officials had “notified protesters numerous times” that if they violated the university polices on occupying outdoor spaces, they could face law enforcement and disciplinary action. Some left voluntarily Monday morning.

Those arrested will also be referred for Yale disciplinary action “which includes a range of sanctions, such as reprimand, probation, or suspension,” the university said.

Earlier in the morning, the New Haven Mayor’s office said arrested protesters were transported to a Yale police facility where they were processed, charged with first-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, and released.

By 8 a.m., no students were left on the plaza and all protesters remaining on the plaza had been arrested. 

“The university made the decision to arrest those individuals who would not leave the plaza with the safety and security of the entire Yale community in mind and to allow access to university facilities by all members of our community,” Yale said Monday.

After the arrests, a crowd of over 200 protesters blocked the intersection of Grove Street and College Street on campus as organizers “announced that people arrested are being charged with Class A misdemeanors,” the school paper wrote on X.

Forty police officers are reported to be at the scene, blocking students from entering the Schwarzman Center Rotunda.

New Haven police said they had no plans to make “any arrests of non-violent protesters” at that demonstration, which was still ongoing as of 10 a.m. ET.

NBC News is out to Yale police for comment.

The tension on campus comes as another Ivy League Institution, Columbia University in New York City, holds classes virtually Monday following a pro-Palestinian encampment and protest that also resulted mass suspensions and arrests.

Boston-area universities Tufts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Emerson also protest encampments over the weekend, organizers said.

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles was criticized last week after it canceled the speech of a valedictorian whose social media account had a link to a document expressing support for Palestinians in Gaza. USC said it decided to cancel the speech based on concerns over security the possibility of disruption.

In a statement Sunday, Yale University officials said that protests in Beinecke Plaza and other parts of campus “have grown significantly over the weekend, and some members of the broader community have joined our students.”

While the school “supports free speech and civil discourse,” the encampment protest had violated some university guidelines and policies, which school leaders warned participants about. 

“Putting up structures, defying the directives of university officials, staying in campus spaces past allowed times, and other acts that violate university policies and guidelines create safety hazards and impede the work of our university,” Yale University president Peter Salovey and Professor of Psychology Chris Argyris wrote.

While many students participating in protests and counter protests “have done so peacefully,” the school was aware of reports of “egregious behavior, such as intimidation and harassment, pushing those in crowds, removal of the plaza flag, and other harmful acts,” the statement said.

The officials stressed: “Yale does not tolerate actions, including remarks, that threaten, harass, or intimidate members of the university’s Jewish, Muslim, and other communities,” and school police are investigating such actions. 

The school officials said that they understood the disagreement with the school Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility’s decision to not recommend a policy of divestment from military weapons manufacturers.”

“The ACIR—a committee of faculty, students, staff, and alumni—arrived at this conclusion after hearing from student presenters and engaging in careful deliberation. This is part of a formal process and relies on the university’s guide to ethical investing that has served Yale well for decades,” the statement said. “There are available pathways to continue this discussion with openness and civility, and I urge those with suggestions to follow them.”

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