Anti-Israel protesters raise the Palestinian flag in the space reserved for the American flag at Harvard University

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale  - Senior Editor
6 Min Read

Amid campus demonstrations in the US, anti-Israel protesters at Harvard University raised the Palestinian flag at the Ivy League school, a spot usually reserved for the American flag, the New York Post reports.

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The incident came as students continued to occupy the campus and a video surfaced online showing three students waving the Palestinian flag over the iconic statue of John Harvard, where the Stars and Stripes are intended to fly.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university's student newspaper, the flag hoisting incident occurred shortly after 6:30 pm (local time) on Saturday. A total of three flags were hoisted on the premises, the report said.

A university spokesperson said the students' actions violated Harvard policy, the New York Post reports.

In a statement to the New York Post, a Harvard University spokesperson said, “Flags raised by protesters over University Hall were removed by Harvard facilities staff.” “The actions violate university policy and the individuals involved will be subject to disciplinary action,” the spokesperson said.

According to The Harvard Crimson, university staff took down the Palestinian flag shortly after it was raised on the flagpole on Saturday.

The Crimson said the American flag typically flies on the flagpole at the Harvard statue. However, reports state that their flags were also displayed when foreign dignitaries visited the complex.

According to the New York Post report, no American flag was flying at the time of the incident on Saturday. It states that the Stars and Stripes are typically hoisted at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and taken down at 4 p.m. “for proper storage.”

The Palestinian flag was raised as anti-Israel students camped on the school grounds chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “We fight for Palestine”.

Similar scenes were seen on college campuses across the US, including Columbia University and other Ivy League universities in the Big Apple.

On October 7, protests began at American universities against Israel's retaliatory strikes in response to Hamas' attack on the Jewish state.

In a series of tense confrontations, more than 200 individuals found themselves in handcuffs after protests at Northeastern University, Arizona State University, Indiana University and Washington University in St. Louis, The New York Times (NYT) reports.

The events, unfolding against a backdrop of rising tensions in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underscore the challenges facing universities across the country as they grapple with increasingly visible demonstrations and encampments on their campuses.

Since April 18, when Columbia University in New York City saw the New York Police Department dismantle a protest camp, more than 700 protesters have been arrested on campuses across the US.

Amid the recent wave of arrests, one notable figure has stood out: Green Party 2024 presidential candidate Jill Stein, her campaign manager and another staff member were arrested at Washington University in St. Louis, according to the NYT.

At Northeastern University in Boston, the scene unfolded Saturday morning as Massachusetts State Police officers moved in to break up an encroachment on the campus's Centennial Common.

The camp, which consisted of over 100 supporters, faced repeated requests from the university administration to vacate the area. Despite these calls, many students remained firm.

As tensions escalated, arrests began, with more than 100 protesters detained. Although the exact number of students among those arrested is unclear, the university assured that students who presented university IDs were being released.

Alina Caudle, a second-year student at Northeastern University, echoed protesters' demands for transparency regarding the university's investments and urged divestment from companies that allegedly support Israel's actions in Gaza.

He emphasized the diverse composition of the camp, noting the significant participation of Northeastern students, as well as the support of Jewish students and faculty. Similar scenes unfolded across the country. In Boston, Boston police officers arrested 118 people at Emerson College, while at Arizona State University, 69 individuals were detained for setting up unauthorized camps.

At Indiana University Bloomington, where tensions had risen with the arrest of 33 protesters earlier in the week, an additional 23 protesters were arrested on Saturday.

Universities grappled with different ways to manage the protests. While some tried to de-escalate tensions, others such as the University of Southern California and Emory University opted for quick police intervention to disperse camps and detain protesters.

An increased police presence was visible at several precincts on Saturday, although not all resulted in arrests. At the University of Pennsylvania, campus police officers were deployed along barricades as more than 100 protesters gathered at a camp, with a small group of pro-Israel countercounters nearby, the NYT reports.

At California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, officers were on scene to close the campus following a protest in which protesters took over two buildings earlier in the week.

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