Police: 133 arrested during growing pro-Palestinian demonstration on SUNY New Paltz campus

SUNY officials said the growing encampment was getting out of control with students inviting others who do not belong on campus to join in, and that they had no choice but to call police for help disbanding it.

Blaise Gomez

May 3, 2024, 5:00 PM

Updated 26 days ago

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State police say 133 people participating in a growing pro-Palestinian demonstration on the SUNY New Paltz campus were arrested during law enforcement action overnight. Student video of the police response was shared by several student groups on social media, showing multiple law enforcement agencies on campus in riot gear with face shields and batons. One video shows police marching in formation toward the encampment at the center of the campus while tapping their batons on the ground or their chest.
Another video appears to show police forcefully separating demonstrators who were joined arm-in-arm, while others yelled “shame” and expletives at police.
“Very violent arrests. People were dragged, kicked in the face,” says one demonstrator.
The pro-Palestinian demonstrators were protesting on the SUNY New Paltz campus for more than 24 hours.
Administration said in a lengthy statement to the college community Thursday night that they met with the group to address their list of demands, which New Paltz Students For Palestine said included disclosing its donor list, severing some contracts and financial relationships with companies perceived to be linked to Israel and dropping academic charges against students involved in the protests.
SUNY officials said the growing encampment was getting out of control, with students inviting others who do not belong on campus to join in, and that they had no choice but to call police for help disbanding it.
“Some in our community will hold me personally and solely responsible for tonight’s events,” said SUNY New Paltz President Darrell Wheeler. “I will have to integrate and accept that, and yet I remain steadfast in my belief that this action is necessary to protect the future of our institution and all its constituents."
Student demonstrators voiced their discontent about the use of force. The college’s Black student union wrote online that they feel the state university is silencing their right to freedom of speech.
“The SUNY New Paltz administration called the police to arrest its students. An institution meant to protect and educate the public, yet instead, they used militant force, bringing state troopers strapped with riot gear, rubber bullets, tear gas, batons, K-9s and zip ties,” the group wrote on their Instagram page.
Other students, and their families, tell News 12 that frightened students were told to stay in their dorms during the law enforcement activity, and that they’re grateful the demonstration has been disbanded. Other students said they didn’t mind the protests and were concerned by the way the encampment was disbanded.
“It was hard to see. Hard to see my fellow students go through such brutality,” said another student who didn’t want to be identified.
As News 12 has reported, Jewish students on campus have said they don't feel safe as a result of the protests. Some say they have decided to leave campus and return home.
State police say the people arrested were charged by several law enforcement agencies who responded with trespassing, which is a violation.


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