White House Says ‘Small Percentage of Students’ Causing US Campus ‘Disruption’

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Washington D.C., United States of America (USA)

People cheer as Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march around the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in the West Lawn of Columbia University in New York City. (AFP File Photo)

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the White House would “continue to call out hateful speech

The White House on Wednesday said it supports Americans’ right to protest and that only a “small percentage” of students are causing “disruption” on US campuses, jolted by demonstrations against the Gaza war.

“We believe it’s a small number of students who are causing this disruption, and if they’re going to protest, Americans have the right to do it in a peaceful way within the law,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. She said the White House would “continue to call out hateful speech as we have been,” denouncing anti-Semitism as youth anger over the death toll from Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza continues to climb.

‘No cops on campus’

More than 100 people, most identifying themselves as Columbia University faculty and staff, marched and chanted near the school’s New York campus Wednesday. They marched on the eastern side of the campus by Hamilton Hall, where, hours earlier, New York police burst in to break up a demonstration by protesters who had occupied the building.

Many marchers held signs reading “No cops on campus,” and chanted slogans aimed at Columbia University president Nemat Shafik, including “How many kids did you arrest today?” Columbia University’s president released a statement Wednesday morning to members of the college community outlining why she called in police the night before.

Nemat Shafik said protesters taking over an administration building on campus early Tuesday was a “drastic escalation” of the encampment at the college, which “pushed the University to the brink, creating a disruptive environment for everyone and raising safety risks to an intolerable level.” Shafik, who goes by Minouche, acknowledged the school has a “long and proud” history of activism on campus, but argued those occupying the building committed “acts of destruction, not political speech.” “I know I speak for many members of our community in saying that this turn of events has filled me with deep sadness. I am sorry we reached this point,” she wrote.

(With agency inputs)

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