Civil rights groups ask for federal investigation into campus protests response

Multiple civil rights groups are asking the Departments of Justice and Education to investigate the police response to the campus protests surrounding the Israel-Hamas war this academic year.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Urban League and numerous Arab and Jewish groups are demanding civil rights investigations into multiple schools that saw demonstrations, including Columbia University, Emory University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

They want the federal departments “to investigate the allegations of law enforcement abuses — in response to peaceful protests occurring in cities and on university campuses across the country — that may be in violation of federal laws.”

More than 2,000 individuals were arrested among the dozens of pro-Palestinian encampments that were set up on campuses, largely in violation of school policies regarding camping out on college property.

Students at Columbia University took over a campus building briefly, and other schools saw vandalism and disruptions during finals week. Violence broke out at UCLA when pro-Israel protesters invaded the camp of the pro-Palestinian activists.

The groups are concerned about police force that was used at some protests, allegedly including tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper balls.

“Many current peaceful protesters, including students, faculty, and other stakeholders, are similarly exercising their constitutional rights by expressing their condemnation of the extreme and escalating violence in Gaza,” the letter to the departments reads.

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