LA university cancels grad ceremony as campus protests against Israel’s war in Gaza continue

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LA university cancels grad ceremony as campus protests against Israel’s war in Gaza continue

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles has cancelled its main graduation ceremony on 10 May, citing safety measures.

The move comes amid ongoing protests against the Israel-Gaza war that have erupted at dozens of US campuses.

At Atlanta’s Emory University, 28 protestors were arrested on Thursday after refusing to leave.

The spate of campus protests began at Columbia University in New York City last week.

In a statement on Thursday, USC said it “will not be able to host the main stage ceremony that traditionally brings 65,000 students, families and friends to our campus”.

The decision comes after police made multiple arrests when confronting protestors at the university’s campus on Wednesday and ordered the dismantling of an encampment.

It is also after USC said earlier this month that Muslim student Asna Tabassum would no longer be permitted to deliver a speech as valedictorian due to unspecified security threats.

Protests also erupted at Emory University in Atlanta, where demonstrators said they were supporting Palestinians but also voicing their objection to a police training centre in Atlanta.

Plans for the centre have been controversial locally and the project has been dubbed “Cop City” by opponents.

In a statement, Emory said that outside protesters were later joined by “members of the Emory community” and that the group was “disrupting the university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals”.

Police say the group “pushed past” officers protecting the area set up for commencement on Thursday morning, and that some members of the crowd threw “objects” at police.”Due to the direct assault of officers, law enforcement released chemical irritants into the ground to assist with crowd control,” Emory’s police force said. Atlanta Police also confirmed that they used chemical irritants but denied reports that they fired rubber bullets at protesters.

One of the protesters shown on video being detained by police identified herself as Noelle McAfee, chair of Emory’s philosophy department.

Ms McAfee said she was observing what she described as a peaceful protest when police began to move in and the protesters started to march.

“It went from a peaceful protest to mayhem in the matter of a minute,” she said. She said she froze and quickly was detained.

The latest wave of campus protests against the war began at Columbia University in New York, after school officials called in police to clear a new protest encampment and more than 100 people were arrested.

The movement has now reached dozens of college campuses across the country.

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.

In other recent developments:

-In Syracuse, New York, President Biden was greeted by around 100 protesters with signs reading “Genocide Joe” and other slogans as he attended an official event

-A camp was set up at Northwestern University near Chicago, where school officials moved to limit the use of tents. Police were on campus and ordered protesters to leave, but no arrests were reported

-Organisers of the Uncommitted movement, which has encouraged Democratic primary voters to reject President Biden, said that they would join the student activists camping at the University of Michigan

-Students at Georgetown University, George Washington University and American University protested in Washington DC

-More than 200 arrests were made on Wednesday at Emerson College in Boston; the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles; and the University of Texas at Austin

-Brandeis University in Boston, where one-third of the student body is Jewish, said it would extended its transfer deadline to accommodate students who feel targeted and attacked at other schools