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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Hundreds march on campus after arrests, police aggression at Wednesday’s protest

Protesters demanded UB address Wednesday’s arrests, some of which were forceful

<p>Protestors carried Palestinian flags at Friday's on-campus demonstration.</p>

Protestors carried Palestinian flags at Friday's on-campus demonstration.

Editor's note, May 5: UB originally reported that five of the 15 protesters arrested on Wednesday were students. The university's Student Conduct Office announced on Sunday that it had "discovered" that two of the protesters previously categorized as unaffiliated with UB were students. This article has been updated to include that new information.   

Hundreds of protesters, led by UB Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), marched through North Campus Friday afternoon to demand the university and the private UB Foundation divest from Israel, call for a ceasefire in Gaza and address police treatment of arrested demonstrators on campus Wednesday. Some also demanded President Satish Tripathi’s resignation.

On Wednesday, approximately 85 demonstrators marched before attempting to establish a peaceful encampment outside of Hochstetter Hall. The protest transitioned into a sit-in after law enforcement ordered protesters to dismantle the encampment in accordance with UB policy or face arrest. At 8:22 p.m., police raided the sit-in, arresting 15 protestors, according to UB. Protest organizers say 18 were arrested. Some officers used force, tackling protesters and ripping the hijab off of one demonstrator. 

On Friday,  protesters gathered in Founders Plaza at 3 p.m. and circled the campus before stopping in the grassy lawn outside of Hochstetter Hall where Wednesday’s attempted encampment, and many of the arrests, occurred.

Around 4:45 p.m., student organizers and Western New York community members spoke to the crowd of protesters. University Police and a few State Police officers maintained a low profile, a marked difference from Wednesday, when dozens of officers from around Erie County outnumbered the approximately 85 protesters who had attempted to form an encampment.

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A protestor holds a "let Gaza live" sign at Friday's protest.

UB closed several buildings and roads, and suspended services on campus Friday afternoon. Capen Hall — home to administrative offices, One World Café and the university’s largest library — closed with short notice at 2 p.m. Officers were stationed at entrances to the building, barring entry. 

Entrances to Capen Hall were still locked as of 9 p.m. Friday. 

UB closed the Law Library in O’Brian Hall and the Student Union’s dining center, and limited access to Talbert Hall. The President’s and Provost’s offices, located on Capen’s fifth floor, were also locked. A university spokesperson told The Spectrum at 7:22 p.m. on Friday that he did not know when the buildings would reopen.

The university used snowplows to block traffic entering Flint Loop — the main Stampede bus stop on North Campus — and Mary Talbert Way. The Lee Loop Stampede stop remained open.

 In a statement released prior to the protest, UB said it “received assurances from student protest leaders” that the demonstration would follow UB and SUNY policies after contacting UB student protest leaders to “reiterate that the university recognizes and respects students’ rights to protest.”

UB officials clarified that UB prohibits “occupation of buildings, overnight assemblies and encampments” and demonstrations cannot “disrupt university operations or activities including classes, events, meetings and lectures.”

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The Student Union bull was painted to read "hands off our students" prior to Friday's march.

Hussain, a SUNY UB Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) organizer who asked that her first name be withheld, said in a text message that UB had not reached out to organizers.

“Only students arrested received that, not organizers. They’re assuming students arrested were the student who organized,” Hussain wrote.

After the protest concluded, UB released a more detailed statement, discussing actions law enforcement took to “ensure the safety of the university community, including those protesting, and to protect university operations,” including turning away cars with “camping equipment.”

Several demonstrators declined to speak to The Spectrum after SJP asked that protesters “not, by any means, engage with the media,” out of respect for the “safety and privacy” of fellow protesters.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this article contained a student quote that was meant to stay off the record. It has since been removed. The Spectrum regrets this error. 

Ryan Tantalo, Henry Daley, Sarah Owusu and Jason Tsoi contributed to the reporting of this article.

The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com


MYLIEN LAI
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Mylien Lai is the senior news editor at The Spectrum. Outside of getting lost in Buffalo, she enjoys practicing the piano and being a bean plant mom. She can be found at @my_my_my_myliennnn on Instagram. 

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