Dozens detained at Paris pro-Palestinian university protest

AFP , AP , Wednesday 8 May 2024

French police detained 86 people following an operation to remove students staging a pro-Palestinian occupation at the Sorbonne university in Paris, prosecutors said Wednesday.

File photo - A man waves a Palestinian flag during a demonstration by students of several universities in support of Palestinian people in Paris on May 3, 2024. AFP


Those arrested in the police operation on Tuesday night were being held for a variety of public order offences, said the statement.

They include wilful damage, rebellion, violence against a person holding public authority, intrusion into an education establishment and holding a meeting designed to disrupt order. Some are also being held for participation in a group with a view to preparing violence or damage to property.

They can be held for an initial 24 hours, which can then be extended another 24 hours.

The day before police moved in, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said there would never be a right to disrupt France's universities with such protests.

Police acted after about 100 students had been occupying a lecture theatre for two hours in "solidarity" with the Palestinians in Gaza, an AFP journalist on site noted.

Tuesday night's police operation at the Sorbonne -- and at another university on Paris's Left Bank, Science Po University -- followed interventions to end similar protests at the end of April.

In the Netherlands, police arrested about 125 activists as they broke up a pro-Palestinian demonstration camp at the University of Amsterdam early Tuesday, as protests that have roiled campuses in the United States spread into Europe.

Tensions have continued to ratchet up in standoffs with protesters on campuses across the U.S. — and increasingly, in Europe — nearly three weeks into a movement launched by a protest at Columbia University.

Some colleges cracked down immediately on protests against the Israeli war on Gaza. Among those who have tolerated the tent encampments, some have begun to lose patience and call in the police over concerns about disruptions to campus life, safety and the involvement of nonstudents.

Since April 18, just over 2,600 people have been arrested on 50 US campuses, figures based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.

But not all schools are taking that approach, with some letting protesters hold rallies and organize their encampments as they see fit.

US Police began to clear a pro-Palestinian tent encampment at George Washington University early Wednesday and arrested dozens of protesters, hours after dozens left the site and marched to President Ellen Granberg’s home.

Officials at the university in Washington, D.C., had warned of possible suspensions for students engaging in protest activities on University Yard.

Local media had reported that some protesters were pepper sprayed as police stopped them from entering the encampment and nearly 30 people had been arrested, according to community organizers.

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