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New arrests at US universities in protests against the Gaza war

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New arrests at US universities in protests against the Gaza war

NEW YORK (AP) — Tensions between American universities and pro-Palestinian student protests worsened on both coasts on Wednesday, with Columbia University giving hundreds of people a deadline to set up camp, while dozens of protesters continued. barricaded in two buildings on a Northern California university campus.

The two incidents were part of intensifying demonstrations over Israel’s war with Hamas by university students across the country, leading to dozens of arrests on charges of trespassing or disorderly conduct.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik in a statement Wednesday set a deadline for reaching an agreement with students to vacate the camp or “we will consider alternative options.”

That deadline passed without news of an agreement. Videos from the scene showed some protesters removing their tents while others redoubled their speeches. The heightened tension came the night before House Speaker Mike Johnson traveled to Columbia to visit Jewish students and speak about anti-Semitism on college campuses.

On the other side of the country, protesters at California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt, began using furniture, tents, chains and zip ties to block access to a building Monday night. It was a more unexpected challenge in a conservative region of California, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

“We are not afraid of them!” the protesters chanted before agents with riot gear made their way to the entrance of the building, according to videos. Student Peyton McKinzie said she was walking onto campus Monday when she saw police grab a woman by her hair and another student whose head was being bandaged for a wound.

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“I think a lot of students are shocked by that,” he told The Associated Press.

Three students were detained, according to a statement from Cal Poly Humboldt, which closed the campus until Wednesday. An unknown number of students had occupied a second building on campus on Tuesday.

The increase in protests has forced universities to strike a balance between campus security and free speech rights. Many long tolerated the protests, which mostly called for universities to condemn Israel’s attack on Gaza and divest from companies that sell weapons to Israel.

Universities are now imposing stricter discipline, citing security concerns, while some Jewish students say criticism of Israel has led to anti-Semitism.

Protests against the war in the Gaza Strip had been raging for months, but intensified after the arrest last Thursday of more than 100 protesters who had camped on the campus of Columbia University in Manhattan.

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Perry reported from Meredith, New Hampshire. Associated Press writers Will Weissert in Triangle, Virginia; Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Steve LeBlanc in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut; Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri; Haven Daley in San Francisco; and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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