Analysis: 97% of Campus Gaza Protests Nonviolent

The most significant violence since April 18, according to the The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, was an attack by a pro-Israel mob at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Gaza solidarity encampment at New York’s Columbia University on April 21, the fourth day of its reinstatement. (Abbad Diraniya, Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Just over a week after U.S. President Joe Biden defended police crackdowns on dozens of anti-war protests on college campuses by declaring that students don’t have “the right to cause chaos,” an analysis released on Friday showed that nearly all the campus demonstrations have not been violent at all — and many that have descended into violence did so due to police interventions or aggressive counter-protests. 

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) examined 553 campus protests that took place across the U.S. between April 18-May 3 and found that fewer than 20 resulted in serious violence or property damage — meaning that 97 percent of the protests remained non-violent. 

The group categorizes demonstrations as violent only when “physical violence that rises above pushing or shoving” takes place or when property damage includes protesters “breaking a window or worse.”

ACLED’s latest analysis comes after a previous study released May 2, which found 99 percent of campus protests in the first days of the burgeoning student-led movement against Israel’s assault on Gaza had remained peaceful. 

In the latest report, analyzing the 3 percent of protests that became violent, ACLED found that at half of those students clashed with police who had been sent in to clear the peaceful student encampments — which should have been allowed to proceed unimpeded according to Biden’s speech about the protests on May 2, in which he said, “Peaceful protest is in the best tradition of how Americans respond to controversial issues.”

At one protest at Washington University in St. Louis, three police officers were injured, and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison on May 1, a state trooper was reportedly injured after being hit with a skateboard. 

ACLED found two instances of serious property damage: a protest at Portland State University where students shattered glass and damaged computers and other furniture while occupying a library, and the occupation of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, where students broke windows. 

But examining the campus protests as a whole, ACLED did not find evidence of the “disorder” Biden spoke of when he said earlier this month that “vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations… threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not a peaceful protest.”

The most significant violence that’s erupted at a campus protest so far, according to ACLED’s data, was an attack by a pro-Israel mob on an encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, which went on for hours as police stood by. 

Los Angeles Police Department arresting student protestors at UCLA on May 2. (By multiple authors/via Darlene L, Matt Baretto, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

“If someone is speaking more about ‘violent encampments’ than they are about violent genocide of the Palestinians, they have a problem reflective of deep and dangerous biases,” said Tanya Zakrison, a surgeon at University of Chicago Medical Center, close to the college campus where students on Thursday said police shoved and hit them as they removed an encampment this week. 

ACLED documented at least 70 examples of violent police crackdowns, including the use of chemical agents and batons to disperse crowds. 

According to The New York Times, more than 2,800 people have now been arrested at campus protests at more than 50 colleges in the United States. The crackdowns have appeared to mobilize Palestinian rights supporters in the U.S. and abroad, with campus demonstrations spreading in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia

ACLED found that police have forcefully intervened against pro-Palestinian protests both on and off college campuses about five times as often as they have against pro-Israel demonstrations.

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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10 comments for “Analysis: 97% of Campus Gaza Protests Nonviolent

  1. bardamu
    May 13, 2024 at 17:01

    Yes, of course, and thanks to CN for pointing it out: once again, the people in favor of violence are mostly the ones carrying it out.

    So much legacy media content is so much projection that I have come to suspect that just inverting the story has become a conscious method for propagandists to keep their lies straight.

  2. Bostonian
    May 12, 2024 at 12:00

    Might we perhaps have an investigation of who comprised this anonymous “pro-Israeli mob,” please? A far greater threat to our safety than student demonstrators is the presence of violent people in our country who identify with a lawless overseas tyranny.

  3. JohnF
    May 12, 2024 at 11:15

    Provocateurs = Government Agent’s – Undermine the Opposition Party (Infiltration).

    Agent’s Everywhere – Agent’s At Twitter – Agent’s At January 6th – Agent’s At
    ‘Mockingbird’ Media – Etc – Etc.!

  4. doris
    May 12, 2024 at 01:14

    Biden took this oath at the beginning of his presidency – “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
    This president, and every president in recent history has violated that oath and should be charged with fraud at the very least and treason at best.
    Congress, as well as most police officers take a similar oath. They should be sued for violating their oath as well as violating the Constitution.

    • Joy
      May 12, 2024 at 07:54

      Maybe this:
      Members of the Biden administration should be made to consider 18 U.S. Code § 1091 the law that brought the genocide convention into US law. Put this statute in their faces, up front and center at every protest at every meeting, press conference, briefing, and trips home and abroad. And then get it enforced.

  5. susan
    May 11, 2024 at 13:05

    Something that just came to me – We can protest on our own property! We can just make our own signs and post them on our property in support of peaceful protest students who are getting arrested… I’m doing it and will post pictures later!

  6. susan
    May 11, 2024 at 12:53

    I’m so very proud of all of the students who are stand up for Palestinians in Gaza! What they are all doing is so very important! We need to burst the current US government skewed bubble and they need to know we are serious – ALL OF US, not just a few!!

  7. May 11, 2024 at 10:46

    Unlike the Biden backed BLM matters riots (and like the events of January 6, 2021 at the Capitol), student protests against US backed Israeli genocide were what protests are supposed to be like, at least according to the US Constitution and the UN Charter. Not that the mass media that specializes in torture of the truth will let you know that.

  8. Robert Carl Miller
    May 10, 2024 at 20:22

    I would advise young people to look up COINTELPRO, an FBI operation who worked hard to break the resistance to the Vietnam War. The FBI infiltrated campuses, anti-war groups. Pro-war vets were used as well as regular agents and people who needed jobs.

    Carl Oglesby, who organized the original SDS, wrote an excellent book of that time period, Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Anti-War Movement.

    It was not a coincidence that within a day “off-campus” demonstrators showed up on campuses and began smashing things.

    People might also do some reading on ADL spy scandal that seems to have begun in San Francisco and spread out to other urban areas.

    • Elizabeth Shipley
      May 11, 2024 at 12:42

      Many that protested had red files that the FBI put together. My late husband asked to see his file using the Freedom Of information Act. Half of his file was redacted. We donated it to the Special Collections library at Michigan State University.

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