Anti-Israeli protesters raise Palestinian flag at Harvard University in spot reserved for US flag

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WASHINGTON: Amid the campus demonstrations in the US, anti-Israeli protesters at Harvard University raised a Palestinian flag at the Ivy League school in a spot usually reserved for the American flag, New York Post reported.

The incident happened as the students continued to occupy the campus with a video surfacing online showing three students raising the Palestinian flag over the iconic statue of John Harvard, where the Stars & Stripes is intended to fly.

The flag-raising incident happened shortly after 6.30 pm (local time) on Saturday, according to The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper of the university. A total of three flags were hoisted at the campus, the report said.

The university spokesperson have said that the actions of students have violated Harvard’s policy, according to New York Post report.

In a statement to New York Post, Harvard University spokesperson said, “The flags raised by protesters over University Hall were removed by Harvard facilities staff”. The spokesperson added, “The actions are a violation of University policy and the individuals involved will be subject to disciplinary action”.

According to The Harvard Crimson, university staff pulled down the Palestinian flag shortly after it was raised at the flagpole on Saturday. The Crimson said the flag pole at the Harvard statue normally flies the US flag. However, it also had the flags of visiting foreign dignitaries displayed when they visited the campus, the report said.

At the time of the incident on Saturday, there was no US flag flying at the spot, New York Post reported. It said that the Stars and Stripes is normally hoisted at 7 am from Monday through Friday and lowered at 4 pm “for proper storage”. The Palestinian flag was raised as anti-Israeli students encamped on the school grounds shouted slogans like, “Free, free Palestine,” and “We flay for Palestine.”

Similar scenes were witnessed at college campuses across the US, including Columbia University in the Big Apple and other Ivy League universities. Protests erupted in the US universities against Israel’s counteroffensive in response to Hamas attack on the Jewish state on October 7.

In a series of tense confrontations, more than 200 individuals found themselves in handcuffs following protests at Northeastern University, Arizona State University, Indiana University, and Washington University in St Louis, The New York Times (NYT) reported.

These events, unfolding against the backdrop of heightened tensions in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underscore the challenges faced by universities nationwide as they grapple with the increasingly visible demonstrations and encampments on their campuses.

Since April 18th, when Columbia University in New York City saw the New York Police Department dismantle a protest encampment, over 700 protesters have been arrested across US campuses.

Among the recent wave of arrests, one notable figure stands out: Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2024 presidential candidate, alongside her campaign manager and another staff member, were apprehended at Washington University in St Louis, according to NYT.

At Northeastern University in Boston, the scene unfolded early Saturday morning as Massachusetts State Police officers moved in to dismantle an encampment on the campus’s Centennial Common.

The encampment, which had drawn over 100 supporters, faced repeated requests from the university administration to vacate the area. Despite these calls, many students remained steadfast.

As tensions escalated, the arrests began, with more than 100 protesters detained. While the exact number of students among those arrested remains unclear, the university assured that students presenting their university IDs were being released.

Alina Caudle, a sophomore at Northeastern University, reiterated the protesters’ demands for transparency regarding the university’s investments and urged divestment from companies allegedly supporting Israel’s actions in Gaza.

She emphasized the diverse composition of the encampment, noting significant participation from Northeastern students, as well as support from Jewish students and faculty. Similar scenes unfolded across the country. In Boston, Boston Police officers arrested 118 people at Emerson College, while at Arizona State University, 69 individuals were detained for setting up an unauthorised encampment.

At Indiana University Bloomington, where tensions had already flared earlier in the week with the arrest of 33 protesters, an additional 23 were apprehended on Saturday.

Universities grappled with differing approaches to managing the protests. While some sought to de-escalate tensions, others, like the University of Southern California and Emory University, opted for swift police intervention to disperse encampments and detain protesters.

The heightened police presence was evident on Saturday across several campuses, although not all resulted in arrests. At the University of Pennsylvania, campus police officers were stationed along barricades as over 100 protesters gathered in an encampment, with a smaller group of pro-Israel counterprotesters nearby, as reported by the NYT.

At the California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, officers were present on the closed campus following a protest that witnessed demonstrators occupy two buildings earlier in the week. (ANI)

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