University of Michigan police violently clear anti-genocide camp

Early Tuesday morning, dozens of riot police from the University of Michigan and Michigan State Police forcibly cleared the Gaza Solidarity camp in Ann Arbor. According to multiple reports, including from protesters, police arrived shortly after 5:00 a.m. and gave protesters about 10 minutes to clear the campus or face attack and arrest.

When the protesters refused, the police began violently attacking them. At least four people were arrested, three of them students, while almost all of the 50 camp participants were pepper-sprayed. The UMich Justice in Palestine faculty and staff reported that “two students in the [Emergency Room]” after the police rampage.

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The camp in Ann Arbor was one of nearly 100 set up across the United States last month following the arrest of 108 anti-genocide protesters at Columbia University on April 18. The anti-war camps, like mass protests against U.S.-backed Israeli ethnic cleansing campaigns, are not limited to the U.S. On May 20, students at the University of Canterbury set up a camp in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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According to one of the New York Times, Last month, police at at least 65 universities in the United States arrested students protesting the genocide. The City College of New York, New York City, had triple-digit arrests (173 arrests); Columbia University, New York City (217); Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts (118); State University of New York at New Paltz (132); University of California, Los Angeles (243); University of Massachusetts, Amherst (130); University of Texas at Austin (136); and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (100).

In a statement on World Socialist Web SiteA UM researcher wrote:

When I arrived on campus this morning, it looked like a militarized zone. The buildings were closed to staff, and dozens of police officers still in riot gear stood on the corner in the middle of the campus, surrounding the Diag. Apparently they had pepper-sprayed and physically attacked students just two hours earlier, and President Santa Ono sent a letter in the meantime.

These are students who peacefully protested against the university's links to genocide and militarism and enjoy widespread support. All the mean PR talk from Ono and the Board of Regents about “respecting and upholding free speech” is so cynical and all blatant lies. The proof is in the anti-democratic pudding.

They have thwarted every attempt by students to rally the student body and the institution against an ongoing, highly visible and well-documented genocide in Gaza. First, it started by shutting down student body resolutions against genocide, and now it has reached the point of physically attacking these protests. The university takes its marching orders from the Democratic Party, Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Police on the University of Michigan campus, May 21, 2024.

Anna Harden

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