Johnson calls on Columbia University president to quit as Texas students arrested – college protests live

Pro-Palestine protesters occupy Columbia university lawn

Campus protests over Israel’s war in Gaza have spread across the country. Police are clashing with protesters in New York, at the University of Austin in Texas – where there were arrests – and in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California.

After a tense night of negotiations and protests at Columbia University, leaders on campus have agreed to extend talks with pro-Palestinian student protester encampments for another 48 hours. It comes as the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, called on university President Minouche Shafik to quit if the protests are not brought under control.

School administrators initially set a midnight deadline for encampments to disband from campus but changed their tune around 3am after students agreed to remove some tents and non-students as well as stop discriminatory or harassing language among protesters.

Some Jewish students have faced antisemitic harassment leading to safety concerns on campus.

In return, the school will allow talks to continue and delay increasing police presence on the already locked down campus.

More than 100 people have been arrested at Columbia alone in connection to the protest encampments which are asking the school to divest financial ties to the war in Gaza.


Speaker Mike Johnson booed at Columbia University as he calls for president to quit unless pro-Palestine protests quelled

He called the protests “disgusting” and “unnecessary” ahead of his visit. The day before his visit, the UN issued a report that it had found “mass graves” in Gaza, where Palestinians — including women, the elderly, and the wounded — had been found dead. Some of the remains allegedly had their hands bound.

Mr Johnson arrived to chorus of boos and consistent shouts from protesters, including chants of “we can’t hear you.”

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 14:00


Senate passes bill extending aid to Israel

The US Senate, on Tuesday evening, finally sent a three-pronged aid package with military assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to President Joe Biden’s desk, ending months of delays that administration officials and top brass were increasingly blaming for Ukrainian battlefield casualties.

Senators voted 79-18 for the aid package in a largely bipartisan fashion.

Three pieces of legislation that were part of the national security supplemental passed by the Senate, as well as one piece of sidecar legislation dealing with Russia/Iran sanctions, passed the House on Saturday. Combined, they will provide tens of billions of dollars in security and military assistance to US allies in three regions.

Much of the $26.38bn Israel bill is centred around restocking Israeli munitions required for its defences as well as the siege of Gaza, where Israel is attempting to wipe out Hamas militants. $4bn is included for resupplying the Iron Dome defensive grid, and $1.2bn is include for the so-called “Iron Beam”, a ground-based laser system used to take out drones and missiles.

$3.5bn is set aside to help Israel procure weapon systems, while nearly $7bn is marked for restocking US supplies and funding operations in the region.

But some Democrats expressed disappointment at not being able to have amendments to hold Israel accountable as its military campaign in Gaza after the October 7 attack has led to 34,000 deaths. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had proposed amendments to restore funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and require Israel not receive unfettered assistance.

“I think it’s beyond belief that, on an issue where the majority of the American people don’t want to continue to support Netanyahu’s war machine slaughter of women and children in Gaza, that we couldn’t even get an amendment to deal with that,” he toldThe Independent earlier in the day.

Mr Sanders’s colleague from Vermont Senator Peter Welch, who supports a ceasefire in Gaza, said that the Senate needed to vote.

“I would have preferred that we have separate votes on each of the items like the House did,” he said, but added that he thought Mr Biden was concerned about reducing civilian casualties.

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 13:00


Nancy Pelosi says Netanyahu should ‘resign’

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the house, said on Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should “resign” as Israel faces mounting criticisms for it’s handling of the war in Gaza.

In response to Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, the country has waged an aggressive campaign to eliminate Hamas, killing thousands of innocent Palestinians and contributing to a humanitarian crisis in the process.

“He should resign. He’s ultimately responsible,” Ms Pelosi said.

The representative questioned Mr Netanyahu’s view on peace and a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 12:00


Faculty seek to censure Columbia president

An organisation of Columbia University and Barnard College professors is calling to censure the school’s president over her handling of pro-Palestine student protests.

The Columbia and Barnard chapter of the American Association of University Professors will submit a censure proposal to the university’s senate, according to the Columbia Spectator, a student newspaper. The university senate, a policy-making body for the school, is made up of administrators, faculty, staff, alumni and students. They are expected to vote as soon as Wednesday on the censure submitted by the faculty members.

The censure condemns university president Minouche Shafik’s decision to ask the New York City Police Department to remove and arrest students staging a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on the campus. Officers arrested some 100 students on Thursday. This decision “violated the fundamental obligations of shared governance,” the censure text, obtained by The Independent, reads.

“We are calling for the censure of President Shafik, not for her resignation,” the censure reads. “We are calling for a recommitment to our core values on the part of our president, her administration, and the Board of Trustees. At the same time we condemn unequivocally any political interference in the governance of our university. That power rightfully belongs in the first instance to the faculty.”

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 11:00


Protest arrests

In Texas, state highway patrol troopers in riot gear and police on horseback broke up a protest at the University of Texas in Austin. The Texas Department of Public Safety posted on X, formerly Twitter, that 34 people had been arrested into Wednesday evening.

The University of Southern California declared its campus closed and asked the Los Angeles Police Department to clear a demonstration. Police arrested students who peacefully surrendered one by one, hours after campus police who took down an encampment were overwhelmed by protesters and requested the LAPD’s help.

The LAPD posted on X late on Wednesday that 93 people were arrested for trespassing and one for assault with a deadly weapon. No injuries were reported.

Chris Stevenson25 April 2024 10:30


NY Mayor Eric Adams’ ‘tent’ curiosity shared by far-right figures like Marjorie Taylor Green

New York Mayor Eric Adams insinuated that the protests happening at colleges and universities in New York City may be connected by an outside influence.

“People who peacefully protest for an issue, they’re not throwing bottles and chairs,” Mr Adams said. “There are people who come, they have nothing to do with an issue and they want to aggravate.”

There is no factual evidence to support the idea that an outside influence is infiltrating college or university pro-Palestinian protests in order to make them more aggressive.

But Mr Adams offered some possible evidence to his theory: “Why is everybody’s tent the same?” he said. “Was there a fire sale on these things?”

He wasn’t the only one to make that observation; far-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ian Michael Cheong, a Malaysian man who blogs about US conservative politics, both hinted at some kind of conspiracy concerning the tents.

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 10:00


House speaker calls on Columbia University president to quit

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, has called on Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign for her “failure,” in his estimation, to protect Jewish students on campus.

“We just can’t allow this kind of hatred and antisemitism to flourish on our campuses, and it must be stopped in its tracks. Those who are perpetrating this violence should be arrested. I am here today, joining my colleagues and calling on President Shafik to resign if she cannot immediately bring order to this chaos,” Mr Johnson said. Mr Johnson said she should step down unless she could immediately end the protests on campus.

Chris Stevenson25 April 2024 09:46


Images from campus pro-Palestine protests

Student protesters sit in front of a tent during the Pro-Palestinian protest at the Columbia University campus in New York, Monday April 22, 2024 (AP)
A USC public safety officer scuffles with pro-Palestine supporters as officers attempt to take down an encampment in support of Gaza at the University of Southern California on April 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)
Texas state troopers arrest a man at a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Texas, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Austin, Texas, U.S. April 24, 2024 (via REUTERS)

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 09:00


Texas DPS appear to bring live ammunition to University of Austin protest on Wednesday

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 08:00


House Speaker Mike Johnson called all US pro-Palestine protests ‘anti-semitic’ and protesters ‘lawless agitators’ during Columbia University visit

House Speaker Mike Johnson visited Columbia University today amid ongoing pro-Palestine protests to call for the university’s president to resign and to address Jewish students.

He called the protests “disgusting” and “unnecessary” ahead of his visit. The day before his visit, the UN issued a report that it had found “mass graves” in Gaza, where Palestinians — including women, the elderly, and the wounded — had been found dead. Some of the remains allegedly had their hands bound.

Mr Johnson arrived to chorus of boos and consistent shouts from protesters, including chants of “we can’t hear you.”

He said Israel and Jewish students would “never stand alone” and said the protesters were supporting terrorists and “gnashing their teeth” at the existence of Israel.

Mr Johnson continued, calling the protesters “lawless agitators” and characterised all of the pro-Palestine protests across US campuses as “anti-semitic.”

At one point, Mr Johnson stopped his speech due to ongoing chants and said “enjoy your free speech”.

Graig Graziosi25 April 2024 07:00

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