Police arrest 93 in LA as Gaza protests intensify in US

Police officers in riot gear cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment at the centre of the campus

In Summary
  • The arrests at USC came hours after clashes took place between protesters and police at the University of Texas.
  • Dozens were arrested there too.

Police have arrested 93 people at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles on trespassing charges, as protests against the war in Gaza intensify across US campuses.

Police officers in riot gear cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment at the centre of the campus, preventing demonstrators from gathering.

The arrests at USC came hours after clashes took place between protesters and police at the University of Texas.

Dozens were arrested there too.

Universities across the US have seen a growing number of students walk out of class or try to set up encampments to protest against Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Hundreds of protesters have now been arrested on campuses across the US including Columbia, Yale and New York University.

The latest arrests at USC were made as students gathered in Alumni Park - where the university's main-stage graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place next month.

LA police said during an operation that lasted several hours they cleared an encampment, and sought to remove demonstrators.

Students received a 10-minute warning from police helicopters to disperse. Those who refused, were arrested on trespassing charges.

The protest was reported to have been largely peaceful at first, but then turned tense with the continued police presence.

As police tried to detain one woman, protesters threw water bottles at them and chanted, "Let her go!"

Protesters gathered around the officers, drowning out their warnings with "free Palestine" chants. Students, some wearing kaffiyehs were holding "liberated zone" signs, banging drums.

Chaotic scenes at University of Texas

Earlier on Wednesday, there were chaotic scenes on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin as hundreds of local and state police on horseback, holding batons, dispersed protesters.

Getty ImagesTexas police on horseback charged at protesters

Governor Greg Abbott deployed the National Guard to stop the demonstrators from marching through campus, saying, they "belong in jail".

Social media footage shows officers pushing into the crowd, while warning demonstrators on loudspeakers to leave the premises or face arrest.

"I command you in the name of the people of the state of Texas to disperse," the announcement said.

Thirty-four people were arrested, officials said.

A photographer for Fox News 7 Austin was seen falling to the ground with his camera while surrounded by riot police. The US outlet later confirmed that the cameraman was arrested.

Other protesters were seen bundled to the ground by riot police. But soon afterwards around 300 demonstrators regrouped, sat on the grass under the school's iconic clock tower and chanted "free Palestine".

Protests spread after Columbia arrests

Protests against Israel's war in Gaza have spread across the country after more than 100 people were arrested at New York City's Columbia University a week ago, after police tried to clear an encampment.

Protesters at Columbia heckled the visiting Republican House Speaker, Mike Johnson, earlier on Wednesday.

The entire campus had been adorned by dozens of Palestinian flags and placards with slogans such as "real Americans stand with Gaza", "demilitarise education" and "there are no universities left in Gaza".

Last week, USC cancelled outside speakers for this year's graduation ceremony, following controversy surrounding the cancellation of the university's valedictorian speech, due to be given by Muslim student Asna Tabassum.

The university said her speech should not go ahead due to security concerns, after complaints that her social media presence was antisemitic.

Ms Tabassum said she was the target of "a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice".

Elsewhere across the US, protest tents have sprung up including at Columbia University, the University of California - Berkeley, Yale, Emerson and the University of Michigan.

Pro-Israel and Jewish groups claimed some protests included antisemitic elements and said they did not feel safe as a result.

At the Columbia University campus in New York City, several Jewish students expressed concerns about a threatening campus environment.

But other demonstrators argued that incidents of harassment of Jewish students had been rare and blown out of proportion by those opposed to their demands.

Activists have been calling for universities to "divest from genocide" and to stop investing large school endowments in companies involved in weapons manufacturing and other industries supporting Israel's war in Gaza.

Israel strongly denies any suggestion that it is committing genocide in the Palestinian enclave, though the International Court of Justice has said the accusation was "plausible".

The war began when Hamas-led gunmen carried out an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people - mostly civilians - and taking 253 others back to Gaza as hostages.

More than 34,305 people - most of them children and women - have been killed in Gaza since then, the territory's Hamas-run health ministry says.

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