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Pro-Palestine protesters were arrested at three Florida universities

Students at three different Florida universities have now been arrested while taking part in pro-Palestine protests.

So far, students have been arrested during protests at Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida. There were also protests at the University of North Florida and the University of Central Florida, but there were no arrests.

Protesters and their supporters demonstrate against an alleged genocide against Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war, while critics called the protests anti-Semitic and harmful to other students on campus.

As of Wednesday morning, 24 people had been arrested at all three locations.

Tear gas was used against protesters at USF on Tuesday. Ten of the approximately 100 demonstrators gathered were arrested. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office released drone footage of the protest's dispersal.

In a news conference that evening, USF Police Chief Christopher Daniel said the arrests came after some protesters brought out shields.

“At one point, the protesters formed a tight circle and simultaneously crossed their arms to demonstrate their power. Another protester began handing out wooden shields and umbrellas, and they used these wooden shields and umbrellas to strengthen their position in the circle. At that point, the protest was no longer peaceful,” he said.

At FSU on Tuesday, five protesters were arrested by university police after they set up tents. Protesters were warned earlier this week that setting up tents and camping on campus would result in their arrest.

Those arrested were members of the suspended student group Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society. The group was suspended from campus after disrupting an FSU Board of Trustees meeting in November with pro-Palestine chants.

In a video posted on the group's social media, they began chanting as officers approached them to make the arrest.

In Gainesville, nine protesters were arrested on the UF campus Monday. One of the protesters was charged with assault after allegedly spitting on an officer. The remainder face various charges of trespassing and resisting arrest.

Their arrests came after some of the protesters brought chairs to sit on Vivienne Serret, a Fresh Take Florida journalist who covered the UF protest on site. Chairs are among several items the university banned students from bringing and using on campus when the protests began last week.

Serret says Monday's arrests have not slowed demonstrations on campus.

“Just from interviewing some of the protesters, I have seen and heard that I don’t think they will end their forms of protest any time soon,” she said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis praised the crackdown on the protesters and said he believed they were out of control.

“As much as I disagree with their opinion. You know, they have a right to do that. But you have no right to confiscate the university. “You have no right to disrupt, harass, intimidate and do all these other things,” he said.

The arrests are part of a nationwide law enforcement crackdown on student protesters. Over 300 protesters were arrested in New York City on Tuesday evening after New York police raided Columbia University and the City College of New York with the institutions' permission. A nationwide list of appellate arrests puts the total number of pro-Palestine protesters arrested nationwide at over 1,300.

Anna Harden

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