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After arrests of pro-Palestinian protesters, Yale students vow to keep going: ‘We’re so angry’

Yale students stage a protest in an intersection in downtown New Haven on April 22, 2024 after police cleared an encampment and arrested 45 protesters outside the Beinecke library, where Pro-Palestinian demonstrators had staged tents for three nights calling for the school to divest its endowment from weapon manufactures they say play a role in Israel’s war in Gaza. “I am a Yale student, and I am ashamed that my tuition is funding a genocide,” said Caroline Twyman, one of the protesters who helped chalk the streets. She said her mom was a student at Yale in 1986 when protesters occupied the Beinecke Plaza to protest against apartheid in South Africa.
Ryan Caron King
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Connecticut Public
Yale students stage a protest in an intersection in downtown New Haven after police cleared a campus encampment and arrested dozens of protesters. Demonstrators have been calling on the university to divest from companies that produce military weapons that they say are being used in the Israel-Hamas war.

Police on Monday started arresting students on the Yale University campus following days of protests related to the Israel-Hamas war.

Yale police arrested about 45 Yale protesters, charging them with misdemeanor trespassing, according to officials. All were being released on promises to appear in court later, officials said.

As the arrests were happening, the protest moved elsewhere and people blocked the intersection of Grove Street and Prospect Street in New Haven for much of the day.

Chisato Kimura, a Yale student, was among the hundreds of people at the intersection.

"Yale's response is to bring in a police department and arrest their own students," Kimura said. "If their goal was to shut us up, and to stop the mobilization, it's definitely backfired. We've shut down this entire block."

By late Monday afternoon, the intersection was cleared and reopened to traffic.

Hundreds of Yale students have been protesting on campus in recent days, calling on the university to divest from companies that produce military weapons they say play a role in the Israel-Hamas war. It’s one of various pro-Palestinian protests happening on college campuses across the country.

University defends arrests in statement Monday

Before Monday’s arrests, Yale protest organizers issued statements saying they planned to stay in the encampment until the university commits to divestment.

“We are here to defend students’ right to peaceful protest,” student Lumisa Bista said in an earlier statement. “We condemn the mobilization of police against students who were demonstrating for peace.”

Prior to Monday's arrests, school officials said they notified protesters "they could face law enforcement and disciplinary action, including reprimand, probation, or suspension" if they continued to occupy Yale's Beinecke Plaza.

School officials said they spent hours in discussion with student protesters on Sunday, offering them the opportunity to meet with trustees, including the chair of the Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility (CCIR) at Yale.

"They declined this offer and continued to occupy the plaza," a spokesperson said in a written statement.

Yale police isolated the area Monday morning and once again asked protesters to leave.

Several students left voluntarily, but "when others did not comply after multiple requests, the Yale Police Department (YPD) issued summonses to 47 students," the university said.

Protesters were violating Yale’s policies "regarding occupying outdoor spaces" and the decision to arrest protesters was made "with the safety and security of the entire Yale community in mind and to allow access to university facilities by all members of our community," according to a university statement.

Students who were arrested will be referred for Yale disciplinary action, which includes a range of sanctions, such as reprimand, probation, or suspension.

Aly Mossa is a student at Yale, and one of the demonstrators.

"We want to make sure that people are heard in any way, shape, or form," Mossa said in an interview Monday. "We want to make sure that the Yale administration hears why we're so angry, and why we're constantly out here."

Singing “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” or “The World is Build on Kindness” Yale students close out a Seder ceremony on campus April 22, 2024. More than 40 students were arrested earlier in the day as hundreds of Yale students have been protesting on campus, calling on the university to divest from companies that produce military weapons they say play a role in the Israel-Hamas war.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Singing “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” or “The World is Build on Kindness” Yale students close out a Seder ceremony on campus April 22, 2024. More than 40 students were arrested earlier in the day as hundreds of Yale students have been protesting on campus, calling on the university to divest from companies that produce military weapons they say play a role in the Israel-Hamas war.

The Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven said in a Instagram post they took their Passover Seder "to the streets" Monday evening in solidarity with the protesters and those arrested. The Seder took place on Cross Campus as organizers said they wanted to "stop starving Gaza and stop arming Israel."

Meanwhile, by 5 p.m., the Grove-Prospect intersection was cleared. Mayor Justin Elicker said that it's one of New Haven's busiest intersections and that it was important to have the area cleared in time for the evening rush-hour commute.

Elicker commended New Haven police for working with student organizers to "de-escalate the situation" an ensure a "peaceful and orderly reopening" of the streets.

"I appreciate that the protest remained peaceful throughout the day and that the intersection was cleared prior to the evening commute voluntarily without incident or arrest," Elicker said in a statement.

Protests test limits of free speech on college campuses

The Yale chapter of the national network of Faculty for Justice in Palestine issued a statement over the weekend saying it "roundly condemns the shameful threats" to use disciplinary action or police intervention to "interfere with and criminalize the students’ right to peacefully protest."

A group of Yale students build a cardboard bomb on campus April 22, 2024, before painting “Books Not Bombs on it. More than 40 students were arrested earlier in the day as hundreds of Yale students have been protesting on campus, calling on the university to divest from companies that produce military weapons they say play a role in the Israel-Hamas war.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
A group of Yale students build a cardboard bomb on campus April 22, 2024, before painting “Books Not Bombs on it. More than 40 students were arrested earlier in the day as hundreds of Yale students have been protesting on campus, calling on the university to divest from companies that produce military weapons they say play a role in the Israel-Hamas war.

A university advisory committee said it would not recommend divesting from military weapons manufacturers, saying the manufacturing supports “socially necessary uses,” including law enforcement and national security. That comes after the committee was asked late last year to consider divestment. The university in a statement said it has a “rigorous” process in place to ensure the “ethical management” of its $40.7 billion endowment.

The university supports free speech and civil discourse, but is also focused on campus safety and maintaining university operations, Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement on Sunday.

He said that many of the demonstrators have been peaceful, but notes that there have been reports of intimidation and harassment.

“Yale does not tolerate actions, including remarks, that threaten, harass, or intimidate members of the university’s Jewish, Muslim, and other communities,” Salovey said.

The Yale arrests come after arrests on Thursday at Columbia University, where police arrested more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators. On Monday, Columbia shifted to all-remote classes to "deescalate the rancor," the university president said in a letter.

This story has been updated. Connecticut Public's Patrick Skahill, Abigail Brone, Eric Aasen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated the size of Yale's endowment. The total size of the endowment was $40.7 billion as of June 2023.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.