ANN ARBOR, MI – Multiple police agencies were called to the University of Michigan campus late Friday afternoon when hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters entered the building that houses the university’s president’s office.
Beginning at 4 p.m., on November 17, at least 200 demonstrators gathered inside and outside the Ruthven Administration Building, 1109 Geddes Street, to protest the university’s withdrawal from Israel.
University of Michigan Public Safety and Security Vice President Melissa Overton said a number of protesters were able to gain access to the locked building. However, all of the workers had left the building before then, university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said. He said.
As of 8 p.m., police were still in the process of restoring order, Fitzgerald said.
Law enforcement agencies from across the county joined University Police at the scene, including the Ann Arbor Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Eastern Michigan University Police Department, Michigan State Police and Pittsfield Department of Public Safety, Overton said.
Police departments from Northfield, Ypsilanti and Milan Township were also on scene, as was the Ann Arbor Fire Department.
Fitzgerald said this type of police response is not unusual considering the number of people in the building.
The protest included several pro-Palestine organizations on campus. The university’s chapter of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality protested against the university for divesting from Israel, while a graduate employee organization claimed in a social media post that the university supports “genocide in Gaza.”
Pro-Palestine demonstrators have gathered on the University of Ann Arbor campus several times since October 7, the day the Hamas militant group killed more than 1,000 Israelis, most of them civilians. According to the Associated Press. Israel has launched several air strikes on Gaza since then, with the Palestinian death toll exceeding 10,000, the Associated Press reported.
The university “has a long-standing policy of not using investments as political statements,” Fitzgerald said. He said various calls for divestment have been made in other political situations over the years, but the university’s Board of Trustees has been firm against divestment.
However, Fitzgerald said the university decided to end investments in Russia in March 2022, but that was a cessation of further investments rather than a divestment, although the university officials at that time “It will move as quickly as practicable to exit its remaining investments,” the university said.
“Internet practitioner. Social media maven. Certified zombieaholic. Lifelong communicator.”