Virginia University Issues Shelter-in-Place Alert as Pro-Palestinian Protesters Clash With Police

Stephen Katte
By Stephen Katte
April 30, 2024US News
Virginia University Issues Shelter-in-Place Alert as Pro-Palestinian Protesters Clash With Police
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a protest outside of Columbia University in New York on April 29, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Riot police have reportedly clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, forcing emergency officials to issue a shelter-in-place order for anyone caught in the middle.

A shelter-in-place order asks people to stay inside the nearest building, or the one they currently occupy, rather than trying to evacuate to another location.

VCU protesters had set up a pro-Palestinian encampment and issued a series of demands.

In screenshots shared on the social media platform X, text messages warn against going near Cadell Library and Monroe Park until further notice.

Other widely-shared videos show groups of people launching projectiles such as bottles and wooden boards at a line of riot police who are advancing in a shield wall.

The university has yet to address the alleged violence taking place on the campus directly. However, it released a statement explaining that “final exams begin this week, and VCU must provide students the opportunity to safely and successfully complete the semester. The gathering violated several university policies.”

“VCU respectfully and repeatedly provided opportunities for those individuals involved, many of whom were not students, to collect their belongings and leave. Those who did not leave were subject to arrest for trespassing,” the university statement read.

The university said that while it supports “an environment that fosters protected speech and expressive activity” it must “maintain an atmosphere free of disruption to the university’s mission.”

Students across the United States are protesting Israel’s war with Hamas. They are demanding that universities divest from any business ties with Israel and condemn the war, which was sparked on October 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel in a bloody massacre. Since then, Israel has responded with a military campaign to neutralize Hamas’ capabilities in Gaza.

The Hamas terrorist attack killed about 1,200 people in Israel, most of them civilians. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, about 34,000 Gazans have been killed since the fighting began. The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and noncombatants in its death count, but international criticism has mounted over the death toll in Gaza.

Campuses Nationwide Becoming Protest Hotbeds

Pro-Palestinian protests have recently led to crackdowns at Yale University in New Haven, Harvard, Tufts University, Connecticut, and New York University, among others. In videos shared on X, protesters can be seen storming Hamilton Hall at Columbia University in Manhattan, New York, barricading themselves inside. It’s unclear if there will be a police response, and the university has yet to address the allegations publically.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the ongoing U.S. protests “horrific” and compared them to the early days of Nazi influence in German universities in the 1930s. In an April 24 post on X, the prime minister said that the violence against Jewish people needs to end immediately.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has also weighed in on the issue, telling the media after a campaign rally in New York City on Sunday that he agrees with and supports the right to protest, but strongly disagrees with the calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

From The Epoch Times

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