Pro-Palestinian students at University of Michigan force their way into ‘locked’ admin building, several arrested: Report

A large pro-Palestinian protest erupted at the University of Michigan campus Friday afternoon, with the authorities clashing with protesters. Those in attendance apparently demanded to speak with Santa Ono, the university president.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the protest began around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, with students giving speeches before making their way to Ruthven Hall, the university’s administration building. Though the police said that the building had been locked, the students managed to somehow gain entry, according to University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security Deputy Chief Melissa Overton.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said that the authorities managed to restore order around 8:00 p.m.

MLive reported that several law enforcement agencies showed up to help, including Ann Arbor Police Department, Eastern Michigan University Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, and Pittsfield Department of Public Safety.

The report noted that the size of the police response is not unusual for the number of people involved in the protest.

The protesters apparently called for the university to stop giving money to Israel. Fitzgerald responded by noting the University of Michigan “has a long-standing policy of not using investments as political statements.”

Leaders of the protest claimed that there were about 40 people arrested, some of whom were slapped with citations and released.

The protesters reportedly wanted to speak with Ono, with Salma Hamamy, president of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality saying: “It’s been a lot of effort from our end to have a simple conversation with President Ono, who has absolutely refused to meet with us for so long, especially for such a pressing issue that is extremely concerning.”

The protesters occupied the building for around five hours, with several students gaining entrance into Ono’s office. Ono was not in the office at the time of the protest.

The protesters claimed that the authorities enacted violence against them, including removing one Muslim woman’s hijab and bringing another student to the ground. Some of the students also claimed that they were refused water and restroom access during the protest. These claims have not been verified.

“The fact that the president and the Board of Regents of the university would rather brutalize their students through police force instead of meeting with the 55 student organizations that have been trying to reach out to them for weeks is extremely telling as to where their priorities are,” Hamamy said.

Though the group appeared to have much to say about Israel’s dealings in Gaza, the protesters did not address the atrocities carried out by Hamas terrorists, which resulted in the death of 1,200 Jews, many of whom were women and children.

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