Arrests Get Violent as Cops Deploy Tasers and Tear Gas on Campus Protesters

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Demonstrators at Emory University protesting in support of Palestinians and against a planned “Cop City” training center were subject to increasingly violent arrests on Thursday as Atlanta police attempted to shut down their protests.

Around 10:20 a.m., officers from the Emory Police Department, Atlanta Police Department, and state troopers used tear gas, tasers, and zip ties to disperse an encampment set up that morning on the university’s quad, Emory’s student-run newspaper The Emory Wheel reported.

One disturbing video from the event showed a trio of police officers tasing a protester, who was handcuffed and held down on the ground.

Another showed officers dragging students out of tents as protesters chanted, “Let them go!”

Some of the officers can be seen wearing gas masks, and several protesters in the video can be heard coughing. A few of them poured water over their faces to flush out red, irritated eyes.

In a statement by the Atlanta Police Department, officers confirmed the use of “chemical irritants” against the protesters, who they said were resisting arrest.

“At Emory’s request, law enforcement began assisting Emory PD in securing the campus. When this happened, law enforcement officers were met with violence. We are aware APD officers used chemical irritants during the incident,” the statement reads. “However, APD did not deploy rubber bullets.”

A university spokesperson said the arrests were meant to crackdown on outside instigators who aimed to disrupt campus life. They denied the arrested were students or otherwise affiliated with Emory.

“Several dozen protesters trespassed into Emory University’s campus early Thursday morning and set up tents on the Quad. These individuals are not members of our community. They are activists attempting to disrupt our university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals,” the university’s statement reads.

It was unclear how many arrests had been made.

The Gaza protesters were also part of the Stop Cop City movement, which aims to stop the construction of a massive police training facility in Atlanta’s Weelaunee Forest. Stop Cop City organizers say it’s part of an attempt to over-police and surveil predominantly Black communities in Atlanta, which the student activists believe is intimately connected to the Palestinian struggle.

Not Just Columbia: Pro-Palestine Protests Roil Campuses Nationwide

“We are demanding total institutional divestment from Israeli apartheid and Cop City at all Atlanta colleges and universities,” Emory protesters said in an article for Mondoweiss.

“The fight against Cop City is interconnected with global movements against oppressive state practices, most notably the Palestinian struggle for liberation from illegal occupation, apartheid, and systemic violence.”

Black and Palestinian protesters have cultivated strong links between their respective movements since 2014, when many Palestinian activists taught Black Lives Matter protesters how to recover from tear gas attacks by police.

Thursday’s arrests mark an escalation in the violence between protesters and police officers as the Gaza student movement, which began last week with demonstrations at Columbia University, spreads across the nation. Even as the arrests get uglier, encampments from coast to coast continue to pop up in protest.

Cal Poly Humboldt Campus Shut Down After Pro-Palestine Protesters Clash With Riot Police

On Thursday, students from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area set up a joint encampment on the campus of George Washington University in the nation’s capital. On the same day, protesters at the City University of New York launched their own encampment, raising a Palestinian flag on campus.

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