40 pro-Palestinian protestors arrested Friday during U of M demonstration 


University of Michigan President Santa Ono's office is in the Ruthvan Building, Nov. 20, 2023 | Jon King

Leaders of a pro-Palestinian protest Friday at the University of Michigan claim that police acted “aggressively” and “violently” toward students as they staged a sit-in at the office of university President Santa Ono.

In a release issued by Students Allied for Freedom & Equality (SAFE), also known as the university’s local Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, the group said 40 students were arrested during the protest.

University of Michigan President Santa Ono | U of M photo

“In an act of civil disobedience, the students refused to leave the office until the President would agree to meet with them,” stated the release, posted to the website of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) AFT Local 3550. “Police responded aggressively, grabbing students for processing before releasing them with trespassing citations.”

SAFE President Salma Hamamy said the main purpose for Friday’s demonstration was to meet with Ono, who was not in his office at the time of the protest, and express their demands in person.

Jewish Voices for Peace UMich, which was among the 55 student groups supporting the protest, posted to social media that the students refused to leave Ono’s office as an act of civil disobedience. 

Israel declared war against the militant group Hamas, which is based in Gaza and is the governing authority there, in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 surprise terrorist attack on Israel in which 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed, with many also tortured and raped, including children. Approximately 240 others were taken hostage.

The resulting Israeli military response, which has sparked increasing worldwide criticism, has killed at least 13,000 Palestinians, including at least 5,500 children, according to Reuters, which quoted Gaza’s Hamas-run government. In addition, the United Nations says two thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been made homeless and are on the “brink of starvation.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters have shut down traffic on major bridges and highways during protests several American cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Detroit.

Zaynab Elkolaly, an undergraduate student at U of M and a member of SAFE, claimed that as students were first entering the building, she was injured after having her hijab ripped off “while being body-slammed to the ground” and then handcuffed by police.

“They hide like cowards behind their guns and tasers and fists because they know they’re no match for our people power,” she said.

While Ann Arbor Police did not return a request for comment, University of Michigan spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen told the Michigan Advance that the protestors moved from the central campus Diag area at about 4 p.m. Friday and “forcefully gained access” to the Ruthven Administration Building, which she said was locked at the time. 

At that point, Broekhuizen says officers from ten nearby law enforcement agencies responded to assist, including the University of Michigan Police, Ann Arbor Police, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Eastern Michigan University Police, Michigan State Police, Northfield Township Police, Ypsilanti Police, Van Buren Township Police, Milan Police, and Pittsfield Department of Public Safety.

Pro-Palestinian groups rally at the Capitol as Israel-Hamas war continues

“At about 7:30 p.m., officers began providing multiple warnings, informing protesters to leave the premises or be subject to arrest,” she said. “The vast majority did leave, while some chose to stay. There were a total of 40 arrests and two injuries to officers reported. Those arrested were processed and released at the scene. The building was emptied and secured around 10:30 p.m.”

The protestors are demanding that the university divest its nearly $18 billion endowment of companies they say are profiting from Israel’s military actions in Gaza, specifically naming Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co.

The coalition says among their demands are that the university conduct a formal inquiry into “anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic racism and harassment,” and “support and reaffirm the faculty and staff members who are being vilified for their support of Palestine.”

The groups also said they want the university to release a formal statement defining Israel’s actions in Gaza as a “genocidal ethnic cleansing campaign led by Israel and aided by the United States.”


The post 40 pro-Palestinian protestors arrested Friday during U of M demonstration  appeared first on Michigan Advance.

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