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26 Apr, 2024 14:08

WATCH police fire taser at pro-Palestinian protester at US college

Officers used tear gas to disperse activists at Emory University campus amid a nationwide crackdown
WATCH police fire taser at pro-Palestinian protester at US college

Police officers in the US state of Georgia used tear gas and tasers to disperse a pro-Palestinian student encampment on Thursday, as law enforcement targeted activists at university campuses nationwide.

The clashes took place at Emory University in Atlanta, where protesters – including students from several nearby universities – had set up tents. They were rallying against what they termed “the genocide of Palestinians” by Israel, and against Cop City, a local police and fire department training center currently under construction.

“We are demanding total institutional divestment from Israeli apartheid and Cop City at all Atlanta colleges and universities,” an organizer said. “We are occupying Emory, not because it is the only institution that is complicit in genocide and police militarization, but because its ties are some of the strongest.”

The university said in a statement that several dozen people had “trespassed” on its campus, and warned that it would “not tolerate vandalism or other criminal activity.” Members of the Emory Police Department, Atlanta Police, and Georgia State Patrol were called to the scene, according to local media.

”Atlanta community members were indiscriminately attacked today with pepper bullets, tear gas, and tasers for the simple act of camping out on a school lawn,” the organizers said.

A video purportedly filmed at the location shows several officers holding down a handcuffed man, as one of them appears to fire a taser into his leg.

The APD confirmed using “chemical irritants,” but stressed that its officers did not “deploy rubber bullets,” contrary to some reports circulating online.

While the university initially claimed that the activists were “not members of our community,” it later acknowledged that out of 28 people arrested in the raid, 20 were from Emory.

Pro-Palestinian activists faced crackdowns across the US this week. The wave of campus demonstrations was triggered last week by a protest at Columbia University in New York, and then spread to some 40 universities and colleges in the US and Canada, according to NBC News. On Thursday, police reportedly targeted encampments at Indiana University Bloomington and Ohio State University.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the US police crackdown, branding the protesters “anti-Semitic mobs” and comparing them to Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s.

Jonathan Greenblatt, leader of the US pro-Israel group Anti-Defamation League, claimed in an interview with MSNBC this week that the wave of protests was organized by “campus proxies” of Iran.

Israel attacked Gaza in October last year in retaliation for a deadly incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas, in which 1,200 Israelis were reportedly killed. The death toll in the enclave has since surpassed 35,000, according to Palestinian officials.