BOSTON — Police broke up a Northeastern University protest calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and divestment from Israel following similar breakups at other Greater Boston universities, including Emerson and Tufts, and at universities around the country.

The breakup of the encampment happened Saturday morning on the campus’ Centennial Common. The university said that 100 people were detained by police. Anyone with a university ID was released and “will face disciplinary proceedings within the university but not legal action. Those who refused to disclose their affiliation were arrested.”

The university’s statement added that the activities of the protesters had grown to a level that the school “cannot tolerate.”

“What began as a student demonstration two days ago, was infiltrated by professional organizers with no affiliation to Northeastern,” Renata Nyul, the school’s vice president for communications, wrote in a statement shared with The Boston Herald.

“Last night, the use of virulent antisemitic slurs, including ‘Kill the Jews,’ crossed the line,” Nyul continued. “We cannot tolerate this kind of hate on our campus.”

However, a video of the moment shared with the Herald by the organization Massachusetts Peace Action shows that the main group of protesters did not chant that hateful remark, but that a counterprotester or an outside agitator attempted to spur them into doing so. Instead of taking on the cry, the main group chanted, “We’re going to let them leave. We’re going to give them a pass.”


US Israel Palestinians Campus Protests Boston

Northeastern University Police remove and arrest protesters one by one at the tent encampment on campus in Boston on Saturday. Dozens of NU students and other protesters who set up tents with them on the NU campus were arrested by state, Boston and NU police. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP

Massachusetts Peace Action is the state affiliate of Peace Action, an organization that describes itself as “the nation’s largest grassroots peace and (nuclear) disarmament membership organization.”

By 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the Common was “fully secured,” and the campus had returned to normal, a university spokesman said.

“Admissions tours are taking place, our community is enjoying the beautiful Boston weather, and graduating students are posing for photos with their families,” the spokesman said. “We want to thank NUPD, our Student Life staff, and the university’s external partners for their flawless execution this morning.”

A Massachusetts State Police spokesman said Northeastern University Police requested their assistance along with support from Boston police and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.

“Officers directed protesters to disperse and MSP members assisted in removing protesters who refused to leave,” MSP spokesman Dave Procopio wrote in a statement. “Approximately 102 protesters who refused to comply with orders to disperse were arrested and will be charged by NUPD with trespassing and disorderly conduct.”

Those who were not released were transported to the Suffolk County House of Correction to be booked and processed.


“The State Police are committed to protecting the lawful exercise of people’s rights of assembly and free speech in a safe and secure manner, as well as to protecting safety and property all involved parties,” Procopio wrote.

Around 8:20 a.m. Saturday, a group of protesters locked arms on at least one campus street and shouted at police.

“Why are you in riot gear? I don’t see a riot here,” protesters could be heard chanting.

At least one protester at the scene said it didn’t matter if not everyone was from Northeastern, because in across the area, “universities are joining together to support each other because we have to.” The protester said she had been protesting for seven months.

“I would say 90% of people here were Northeastern students,” said the protester, who didn’t provide a name but said she was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student. “Yes, there are going to be community members because they’re coming out to support people in their community.

“Separating people from Northeastern versus outside agitators is silly. This university is inside the city of Boston, OK, so what happens here on Northeastern also affects me as someone who lives in Boston.”


The speaker was interrupted by another person who said the protesters should release a statement together because “our words get twisted a lot.”

A group calling itself “Huskies for a Free Palestine” announced Thursday that they had established a “Liberated Zone” on the campus’ Centennial Common at 30 Leon Street. The announcement calls for the university to “Disclose, Divest, Denounce!” and advertises “art, community, reading, performances, hot meals, political education, for a free Palestine!”

The demands to the school’s administration are to disclose “full transparency for current financial investments and endowment holdings,” to divest “from all investments in and connections with Israeli companies and institutions,” and to “denounce Israel’s genocide in Palestine and call for an immediate ceasefire.”

The group wrote that “The more bodies we have, the longer we can stay. SHOW UP!”

The encampment reached its peak at around 3 p.m. Thursday, when more than 200 protesters gathered. Protesters could be seen with signs with anti-war and anti-Israel messages. Many linked arms; others set up tents and conditioned themselves for a long stay.

Northeastern Police remained at the Centennial Common from the start of the encampment and arrested one person at around 1 p.m. Thursday, according to The Huntington News, the independent, student-run news organization at the university. University police were joined by Boston police for around 30 minutes Thursday afternoon, and some NU officers and State Police remained at the encampment overnight.

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