Police confirm 36 arrested at Ohio State anti-Israel protest Thursday night (2024)

Thirty-six people were arrested Thursday night as Columbus became the latest site of student protests against Israel as hundreds of Ohio State University students, faculty and members of the Ohio Arab community rallied and set up tents outside the student union.

Police records show that 36 people were arrested starting at 10:16 p.m. Thursday and charged with criminal trespassing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $250 fine.

Among the 36 arrested, 16 were current undergraduate or graduate students at Ohio State, according to a university release. The other 20 were not affiliated with the university.

All 36 protesters were released on their own recognizance — without having to pay any bond amount — and are scheduled to have their first appearances in Franklin County Municipal Court early next week.

Just before 11 p.m., protesters were starting to leave the South Oval, after nearly six hours of chants, prayers and construction of tents. Police lined College Road South and 12th Avenue, as protest organizers encouraged people to go home. An hour before, dozens of police, including Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, surrounded what at one point had been hundreds of protesters, trying to break up the peaceful demonstration.

More:Can you protest on your college campus? Here's what Ohio State's 'space rules' say

Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said there were no reported injuries.

Police confirm 36 arrested at Ohio State anti-Israel protest Thursday night (1)

Skyler Goody, 21, an OSU junior, said she and her roommate were nearly arrested as she helped form a circle around the encampments.

"People of Columbus, look at how your cops treat people," Goody said. "I don't know what the students were doing that warranted riot gear and pushing people over while they're praying."

A couple of hours earlier, around 8 p.m., demonstrators stepped up chanting, but Ohio State police officers previously informed the crowd to disperse in 15 minutes, around 7:30 p.m., with another warning 10 minutes after that.

Some protestors pointed to the roof of the Ohio Union, overlooking the South Oval, saying there were armed officers pointing firearms down at them. The Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper, originally reported around 8 p.m. Thursday that Johnson confirmed the Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers on the roof were unarmed.

Johnson said Friday afternoon that once state troopers began using force to arrest protestors around 10 p.m., that protocol changed and those on the roof did have long-range firearms.

"Ohio State Highway Patrol provided overwatch support, which is a standard safety measure when they assist with large gatherings," Johnson said. "We don’t discuss specific public safety protocols. In general, overwatch support is armed, and the team carries standard equipment, including firearms, that would only be used reactively to protect the safety of all present, including demonstrators."

The protest began around 5 p.m., calling for Ohio State and others to divest investments from companies with links to Israel.

Johnson said state law prohibits state entities like Ohio State from divesting in Israel.

"Ohio Revised Code Section 9.76 prohibits the university from divesting any interests in Israel and prohibits adopting or adhering to a policy that requires divestment from Israel or with persons or entities associated with it," Johnson said in a statement.

Police confirm 36 arrested at Ohio State anti-Israel protest Thursday night (2)

Tent encampments at university campuses have become a visible symbol of a student movement that has spread across the country at schools such as Columbia University and the University of Texas Austin, USA TODAY reported.

Demonstrators across the nation are protesting the civilian toll in Gaza, where more than 34,000 people have died since the Israeli invasion that followed a Hamas-led attack that killed almost 1,200 people in Israel. Students oppose U.S. military aid to Israel and want their schools to stop investing endowment money in companies with Israeli links.

While not as large scale as other universities, police arrested three individuals Thursday morning on campus as part of a demonstration of around 25 people, The Dispatch previously reported. On Tuesday, two Ohio State students were arrested during another on-campus protest.

Protesters call on Ohio universities to divest from Israel

The event was organized by a collection of local Ohio university chapters of the Students for Justice in Palestine, organizers told The Dispatch. Omar Heif, 21, a University of Toledo student and event organizer, said the event was intended to send a message that university students across the state support divestment.

"You can silence us, you can beat us, you can arrest us, but at the end of the day, we're all connected," Heif said.

Laila Shaikh, 19, event organizer and University of Cincinnati student, stressed that the event was meant to be a peaceful demonstration and they wanted to exercise their right to free speech.

"We have members from the Jewish community, members of the Christian community and members of the Muslim community coming together again to show our shared humanity — and I want to reiterate — we are not doing anything violent," Shaikh said.

Police confirm 36 arrested at Ohio State anti-Israel protest Thursday night (3)

Amy Shuster, an OSU philosophy professor and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Central Ohio, said she and other members of the organization wanted to spread a message that "Jewish safety is absolutely bound up with the safety of the Palestinian people."

"These things are not mutually exclusive, and they're not in competition with each other," Shuster said. "There's nothing Jewish about genocide. There's nothing Jewish about ethnic cleansing."

Attorney and activist weighs in on protest: 'Nothing is stopping them'

Mazen Rasoul, an immigration attorney and activist who was at Thursday's protest, said that OSU police came to the scene "determined" to shut it down.

"The protest was very peaceful, and we had a beautiful diverse group of tudents. Counter protesters were there, but nobody engaged with them. There was no threat to anyone or anything, and the only ones disrupting anything were the police," said Rasoul.

But Rasoul said that even with the mass arrests of 36 people Thursday night (20 not affiliated with the university and 16 students), he believes that this generation of students will continue to hold demonstrations and speaking out for an end to the Israel-Hamas war.

"For the past 15 years, never in my life did I imagine we'd see a generation like we have now," said Rasoul.

"This generation of students is resilient. They are adamant on their right to speech and continuing the movement. The more they feel suppressed, threatened by law enforcement or the university, the more they insist on continuing. Nothing is stopping them."

Jewish OSU student calls demonstration 'disgusting'

Adam Kling, 21, a Jewish OSU student studying biology, was there alongside over a dozen other Jewish students, some wrapping themselves in Israeli flags, observing the demonstration.

He said what he's seen on college campuses across the country in recent days was "disgusting."

"It's terrifying," Kling said. "I don't feel unsafe — I do think that a large portion of the Jewish community feels unsafe, and I do think that's what they're trying to do."

Kling said he feels like OSU and other college campuses are divided.

"I don't want it to happen, but when you walk out of your house, you walk out of your class and there are people wishing for your friends to be dead," Kling said. "For you to be kicked out of campus and for your home country to be destroyed. It's really disheartening to hear from fellow students."

Dispatch reporter Sheridan Hendrix contributed to this report.


Police confirm 36 arrested at Ohio State anti-Israel protest Thursday night (2024)


Is Ohio State protesting Israel? ›

Hundreds of Ohio State University students, faculty and community members protested the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza on May 1, 2024. (Photo by Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal.) Ohio colleges and universities have been the site of recent protests over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Is protesting legal in Ohio? ›

You have the First Amendment right to peacefully assemble to protest. You can protest in public spaces, such as streets, sidewalks, and parks so long as you aren't blocking traffic. If anticipating a group large enough to block pedestrian or car traffic, contact your municipal government for more information.

Why are students protesting Israel? ›

What are the student protesters calling for? Many want universities to sell off shares, assets or other investments in companies linked to Israel and its war in Gaza, a move known as divestment.

Does Red Cross support Israel? ›

Additionally, the American Red Cross has pledged $1.75 million each to the Palestine Red Cross Society and Magen David Adom to support ongoing relief work in Gaza and Israel.

Are US and Israel allies? ›

Israel is designated by the United States as a major non-NATO ally, the only country in the Middle East other than Egypt to have this designation.

Why are campuses protesting? ›

As NPR summarized them, the “demands vary by school, though they generally call for an end to the Israel-Hamas war, disclosures of institutional investments and divestment from companies with ties to Israel or that otherwise profit from its military operation in Gaza.”

Why are college kids protesting? ›

In mid-April, college students on campuses around the country began protesting in support of Palestinians. Students are calling for their schools to divest from companies that do business with Israel, among other demands.


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