‘Not outcome we hoped for’: More than 130 arrests made at UMass Amherst protest, police say

AMHERST, Mass. — More than 130 protesters were arrested on the campus of UMass Amherst on Tuesday night after police say they refused to dismantle a pro-Palestinian encampment.

The protesters didn’t comply with dispersal orders from police, refusing to take down an “unauthorized, fortified encampment,” according to the university.

Police officers wearing riot gear surrounded the barricaded tents that students had set up earlier in the afternoon and began arresting the protesters around 8 p.m.

As of Wednesday morning, 109 people had been booked and charges were pending for about 25 other individuals, school officials said.

In a message sent to the campus community following the arrests, UMass Chancellor Javier Reyes said, “We have provided many paths forward for a resolution, including in our discussions today with protest representatives. Our message to this effect was delivered to the demonstrators in the encampment by the Demonstration Response and Safety Team. Demonstrators rejected our offers for continued civil discourse to help bridge our differences and refused to dismantle their encampment. While we have told demonstrators that failure to remove the tents and barriers may result in arrests, this is not the outcome we had hoped for.”

Stephen Karam, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, proclaimed the Board’s “full and unwavering support” for Reyes.

“We have absolute confidence in his leadership, his integrity, and his commitment to our students,” Karam said.

MTA President Max Page, a professor at UMass Amherst, and Vice President Deb McCarthy issued the following statement Wednesday night saying the Massachusetts Teachers Association “condemns the administration’s restraints on the academic freedom of students, staff and faculty on campus.”

“The use of force to silence protests is antithetical to the reason why universities – and especially public universities – exist,” said in the statement. “Campuses across the country have become home to protests over the war between Israel and Hamas. UMass Amherst had the opportunity to be a leader in showing how an academic community can allow the expression of divergent points of view. Instead, UMass chose to bring in a police presence to forcefully break up a demonstration.”

Additional details on the charges and the schedule for arraignments will be released at a later time.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology students received word from MIT President Sally Kornbluth earlier this week that their encampment was deemed “no longer safely sustainable,” and they could face suspension.

Pro-Palestine protest camps have emerged across the country, as some call for a break in academic ties with Israel over the war in Gaza.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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