Dozens Arrested During Pro-Palestine Protests in the US (VIDEO)

Thousands of students have organized demonstrations in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Police in the United States arrested more than 80 protesters on Wednesday as part of efforts to curb pro-Palestine demonstrations which have gained momentum across American university campuses. Demonstrations from Massachusetts to California began last week after students at New York’s Columbia University set up tent camps, calling for universities to cut ties to Israel and divest from companies allegedly contributing to the conflict in Gaza. They also publicly called for a ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave.

Companies being targeted include Amazon and Google, which are part of a $1.2 billion cloud-computing contract with the Israeli government. Microsoft, whose services are used by Israel’s Defense Ministry and Israeli civil administration, has also been condemned, as well as arms manufacturers profiting from the war such as Lockheed Martin. Students at schools including New York University, Harvard, and Yale demand that the US government “cease all funding for Israeli weapons and stop giving them any more money to continue this genocide,” Cameron Jones, part of Columbia’s Jewish Voice for Peace movement, said in a video statement on Wednesday.

Visiting the campus at Columbia on Wednesday, US House Speaker Mike Johnson denounced the protests as “mob rule” and condemned what he called a “virus of anti-Semitism” at colleges nationwide. “And it’s detestable, as Columbia has allowed these lawless agitators and radicals to take over,” he claimed, calling for the resignation of the university’s president.

Activists deny that the protests are anti-Semitic, and say Jewish students are largely involved in organizing the demonstrations. Hundreds of Columbia faculty members staged a walkout on Monday to criticize the university leadership and express their solidarity with the protesters. Demonstrators condemned the Columbia president’s decision to call police onto campus. History professor Christopher Brown publicly branded it “unprecedented, unjustified, disproportionate, divisive and dangerous.”

The rallies have led to mass suspensions and hundreds of student arrests in New York and other cities. At least 34 people, including a photojournalist, were detained after police stormed the campus at the University of Texas in Austin on Wednesday, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. At least 50 more were detained by police at the University of Southern California, local media reported. A surge of demonstrations followed the deadly attack on Israel by the Palestinian armed group Hamas in October. The students are protesting Israel’s relentless retaliatory assault on Gaza, which has caused unprecedented destruction in the enclave and left more than 34,000 people dead, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.