Pro-Palestinian mobilization in the United States: Joe Biden believes that Americans “have the right to demonstrate, but not the right to sow chaos”

So far silent on the pro-Palestinian gatherings in American universities, Joe Biden finally reacted in a brief statement to the press on Thursday, May 2

Pro-Palestinian mobilization in the United States: Joe Biden believes that Americans “have the right to demonstrate, but not the right to sow chaos”

So far silent on the pro-Palestinian gatherings in American universities, Joe Biden finally reacted in a brief statement to the press on Thursday, May 2. Americans “have the right to demonstrate, but not the right to sow chaos,” he said. “People have the right to receive an education, the right to get a degree, to walk across campus safely without fear of being attacked. Let us also be clear about this: There should be no place on any campus anywhere in America for anti-Semitism or threats of violence against Jewish students,” he continued.

“There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether it be anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab Americans or Palestinian Americans. “There is no place for racism in America,” he insisted.

The President of the United States also defended freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate while emphasizing that “order must prevail.” “Dissent is essential to democracy,” he said from the White House. “But dissent must never lead to disorder. » Mr. Biden also said that he was not in favor of sending the National Guard, an army corps which depends primarily on the States, to campuses. He also assured that this protest movement would not change his strategy in the Middle East.

American campuses are the scene of student mobilization against the war in Gaza which is shaking the United States. Police were deployed to several of them, where new arrests took place, after intervening in Los Angeles and New York. Early Thursday, police dismantled barricades set up by students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The police, equipped with riot gear, removed grills and planks and several demonstrators were arrested, according to images broadcast by the CNN television channel.

At the University of Texas at Dallas, police dismantled a protest camp on Wednesday and arrested at least seventeen people for “criminal trespass,” the establishment announced.

Law enforcement also arrested several people at New York's Fordham University and evacuated a camp set up on campus in the morning, officials said. Around 300 people were also arrested in New York on two university sites, the city police detailed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Military hand

During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the police manu militari dislodged demonstrators barricaded in a building of the prestigious Columbia University in Manhattan, from where the student mobilization in support of Gaza started.

“The police were brutal and aggressive with them,” Meghnad Bose, a Columbia student who witnessed the scene, assured Agence France-Presse (AFP). “They arrested people randomly (…), several students were injured to the point that they had to be hospitalized,” denounced a coalition of pro-Palestinian student groups from Columbia in an Instagram post. “I regret that we have reached this point,” reacted Minouche Shafik, the president of the university, on Wednesday.

The demonstrators are fighting "for an important cause", but the recent "acts of destruction" carried out by "students and external activists" led her to resort to the police, she explained, denouncing by elsewhere “anti-Semitic remarks” made during these gatherings.

Other encampments were also dismantled early Wednesday on the campuses of the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the southwest and north of the country, respectively, according to local media. .

Call to cut ties with companies linked to Israel

For two weeks, mobilizations in support of Gaza have multiplied across the United States, from California to major universities in the Northeast, reminiscent of demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Students call on establishments to cut ties with patrons or companies linked to Israel, and denounce Washington's support for its Israeli ally.

Unlike other institutions, Brown University, in the state of Rhode Island, announced that it had reached an agreement with the demonstrators. This provides for the dismantling of their encampment in exchange for a university vote in October on possible “divestment” from “companies that enable and profit from the genocide in Gaza”.

According to an AFP count, the police have carried out arrests on at least thirty university sites since April 17. Images of riot police intervening on campuses have gone around the world and are causing strong reactions in the political world, six months before the presidential election in a polarized country.

The White House on Wednesday condemned a “small percentage of students who cause disorder.”

“Students have the right to go to class and feel safe,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, spokesperson for the executive, adding: “We will continue to emphasize that it is necessary to denounce anti-Semitism. » At a rally in Wisconsin, former President Donald Trump said that “New York was under siege last night.”