In Photos: Palestine Solidarity sweeps US commencement ceremonies

AP , Monday 13 May 2024

Protests over Israeli massacres in Gaza have spread across U.S. university and college campuses in recent weeks.

A graduate twirls with her Palestinian flag cape during the Emerson College commencement ceremony at Boston University s Agganis Arena. AP


Some demonstrations extended into weekend graduation celebrations.

Most of the commencement exercises took place as scheduled and remained largely peaceful.

Here is a look at some of the ceremonies that included protests:


Dozens of the 7,000 graduates at Duke University left their seats to protest anti- Palestine speaker and comedian Jerry Seinfeld during the commencement in Durham, North Carolina, on Sunday.

Some waved the red, green, black and white Palestinian flag and chanted “Free Palestine” amid a mix of boos and cheers.

Seinfeld, whose decade-long namesake show became one of the most popular in U.S. television history, was there to receive an honorary doctorate from the university.

The stand-up comedian and actor has publicly supported Israel since it invaded Gaza. The Israeli war has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians.


Southern California’s small Pomona College moved Sunday evening’s commencement 30 miles (48 kilometres) to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles after pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment last week on the campus’ ceremony stage. 

Anwar Mohmed, a Pomona senior, said the school repeatedly ignored calls to consider divesting its endowment funds from corporations tied to the war in Gaza.

“We’ve been time and time again ignored by the institution,” Mohmed said outside the Shrine on Sunday. “So today we have to say, it’s not business as usual.”


Student protesters at Emerson College in Boston occasionally erupted into chants during Sunday’s commencement ceremony.

 Some graduates wore Palestinian keffiyeh scarves. Others took off their graduation gowns and dropped them on the stage after receiving their diplomas.


A graduate displays a message on his shirt, "No Grad in Gaza," during the Emerson College commencement ceremony at Boston University's Agganis Arena. AP



Dozens of graduating students at Virginia Commonwealth University walked out Saturday during an address by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

While some of the estimated 100 students and family members who left during the Republican governor’s speech showed support for Palestinians, others held signs signalling opposition to Youngkin’s policies on education, according to WRIC-TV.


At the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators waved flags and chanted during commencement and were escorted to the back of the stadium, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 


Pro-Palestinian students hold white t-shirts stating the message, "DIVEST," as they protest during the UC Berkeley graduation at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. AP


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill splattered red paint on the steps of a building hours ahead of the school's commencement and chanted on campus while students wearing graduation gowns posed for photos, the News & Observer reported.


A small group of demonstrators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison staged a silent protest during commencement at Camp Randall Stadium. A photo posted by the Wisconsin State Journal showed about six people walking through the rear of the stadium. Two carried a Palestinian flag.

Pro-Palestinian protesters at the campus had agreed Friday to permanently dismantle their 2-week-old encampment and not disrupt graduation ceremonies in return for the opportunity to connect with “decision-makers” who control university investments by July 1.


At the University of Texas at Austin, a student held up a Palestinian flag during Saturday's commencement ceremony and refused to leave the stage briefly before being escorted away by security.


In Boston, commencement ceremonies for Northeastern University were held peacefully in the rain on May 5 at Fenway Park.

Some students waved small Palestinian and Israeli flags. Undergraduate student speaker Rebecca Bamidele drew cheers when she called for peace in Gaza.

Police arrested about 100 protesters at Northeastern last month when they broke up an encampment on campus.


Police officers stood nearby as some graduates holding Palestinian flags and shouting pro-Palestinian messages protested during commencement at the University of Michigan on May 4. One banner said, “No universities left in Gaza.”

The protests were located away from the stage and didn’t stop the nearly two-hour event. Protesters have demanded Michigan cut financial ties with any companies connected to Israel. The university allowed protesters to set up an encampment in the middle of campus.

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