Pro-Palestinian protests spread at US universities as police crack down

Pro-Palestinian protests spread to more college campuses in the United States on Thursday as authorities appeared to be running out of patience and police began to push back forcefully.

Riot officers used chemical irritants and tasers at one university as administrators at some of the country's most prestigious institutions battled to prevent occupations taking hold.

Staging sit-ins and mounting boisterous demonstrations, the activists are calling for a ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas, as well as for colleges to sever ties with the country and with companies they say profit from the conflict.

"For 201 days, the world has watched in silence as Israel has murdered over 30,000 Palestinians," organisers of a protest at the University of California, Los Angeles said in an online message.

"Today, UCLA joins students across the country in demanding that our universities divest from the companies which profit off of the occupation, apartheid and genocide in Palestine."

More than 200 protesters were arrested Wednesday and early Thursday at universities in Los Angeles, Boston and Austin, Texas, where around 2,000 people gathered again on Thursday.

At Emory College in Atlanta, photographs showed police wielding tasers as they wrestled with protesters on neatly manicured lawns.

The Atlanta Police Department said officers responding to the school's request for help were "met with violence" and used "chemical irritants" in their response.


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