Biden Makes First Public Comments On Pro-Palestinian Campus Protests: 'We're A Civil Society And Order Must Prevail'

In the wake of violent incidents occurring at pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses in the U.S., President Joe Biden has publicly condemned such actions, asserting that such lawlessness will not be tolerated.

What Happened: President Biden made his first public remarks following police interventions at university encampments from New York to Los Angeles, the Financial Times reported on Friday. He warned the protesters that “acts of chaos” are not acceptable and voiced his support for law enforcement’s efforts to restore order.

"We're a civil society and order must prevail," Biden said.

"Violent protest is not protected; peaceful protest is. It's against the law when violence occurs. Destroying property is not a peaceful protest, it's against the law."

Recent events at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) saw police action to disperse a student encampment. The campus had turned into a hotspot for violent clashes when a pro-Israel counterdemonstration attempted to dismantle the encampment on Tuesday night.

On Thursday morning, Los Angeles police officers in riot gear cleared out tents and obstacles, detaining protesters following disruptions that led UCLA to cancel classes. The officers reportedly used “flash-bang” devices to disorient the crowds.

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Biden’s remarks come in the wake of criticism from congressional Republicans for not taking a stronger stance against the protests, which have forced several universities to cancel graduation ceremonies and shift classes online. The President clarified that he did not support deploying the National Guard to quell the demonstrations, and the protests had not made him reconsider his policies towards the Israel-Hamas conflict.

However, Biden did express concern that the protests were infringing on students’ rights and causing destruction on campuses.

“Dissent is essential to democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder or to denying the rights of others so students can finish the semester and their college education,” Biden said.

Why It Matters: These protests have been escalating for some time. In May, the New York Police Department (NYPD) stormed Columbia University’s campus to quell pro-Palestine protests. This followed a week of peaceful demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war.

These protests have also had an impact on recruitment at Ivy League colleges. Recruiters are reportedly hesitant to offer jobs to new graduates due to their increasing political participation.

Furthermore, the Yemen-based Houthi militia has offered shelter to students suspended from U.S. universities due to their anti-Israel protests.

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Photo by Trevor Bexon on Shutterstock

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsGeneralColumbia UniversityIsrael-Hamas WarIsrael-PalestineJoe BidenPooja Rajkumariprotests
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