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About 20 Brown University students arrested for trespassing during anti-Israel protest


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About 20 students at Brown University were arrested Wednesday after a five-hour sit-in by anti-Israel activists who demanded that the Ivy League school divest from companies with ties to the Jewish state.

The students were members of the group BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now, which called for Brown President Christina Paxson to back their proposal that the school’s endowment funds not be invested in companies that do business with Israel amid the war with Hamas, the Boston Globe reported.

“In light of the ongoing genocide occurring in Gaza backed by American aid, weapons, media, politicians, and academic institutions, we, BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now, call on Brown University to do its part to promote an immediate ceasefire and a lasting peace by divesting its endowment from companies that enable war crimes in Gaza,” their statement read.

“We will not leave University Hall until President Christina Paxson publicly commits to include and support a divestment resolution in the next meeting of the Brown Corporation,” the group vowed.

More than 150 students also stood near University Hall singing and shining phone flashlights.

The protest began about 1 p.m. Wednesday and the arrests began about 6 p.m. when the students were removed from University Hall by Providence police, according to reports. Those arrested were released without bail and are due back in court on Nov. 28.

Brown said students who remained in the building were repeatedly warned that they would be arrested for trespass at the end of the school day due to security issues, the Providence Journal reported.“To protect the security of all community members and facilities, students cannot remain in non-residential campus buildings past the point of normal operating hours,” Brown said in a statement. “The safety of our students is always our top priority.”

The student group issued its own statement, which quoted several members, including one of the organizers, Lily Gardner, a sophomore who was among those arrested for willful trespassing.

“As Jewish students mourning friends and loved ones, both Israeli and Palestinian, we’ve had enough of our university using us as a justification to maintain financial support of an apartheid state,” Gardner says in the statement.

“We’re sick of pretending that our academic and personal lives should go on as normal,” she adds.

Gardner told the Globe: “I think this was really necessary to break through the rhetoric, and without claims that this belief is antisemitic. We took a stand for Brown.”

“We’re sick of pretending that our academic and personal lives should go on as normal,” she adds.

Brown​ spokesman Brian Clark told the Globe that the school “respects and upholds freedom of expression,” but the “time, place, and manner” are subject to regulation on campus only “to prevent interference with the normal functions of the university.”

He said the students violated fire codes by gathering in a hallway.

The group’s demands were based on a 2020 report compiled by an entity that provides advice on investment practices – with one of the suggestions being that a company should not receive investment support if it provides “products or services” that contribute to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, according to the Journal.

Among the companies cited were Boeing and General Dynamics.

Clark said that divestment “from companies that facilitate Israel’s actions in Palestinian territories” was explored in 2020 by the University’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices.“The group’s recommendation to divest did not meet established standards for identifying specific entities for divestment or the articulation for how financial divestment from the entities would address social harm as defined in the committee’s charge,” he told the Globe.

“Therefore, it was not brought forth to the Brown Corporation for consideration,” Clark added.

On Tuesday, more than 160 Brown faculty members urged the school in a letter published in the Brown Herald to “join international calls for an immediate ceasefire.”

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