Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Students, faculty detail tensions at pro-Palestine protest Wednesday

Students gathered on the breezeway for Wednesday’s “Protest for Palestine,” resulting in three arrests.
Amira Kattaria
Students walk down Diversity Way during the protest.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct “Israelis” to “Jews” regarding the attack’s timeline in relation to the Holocaust and to include information about the arrests.

Tensions were high as more than 100 students marched through the FAU campus to support Palestine Wednesday afternoon during what organizers hoped would be a peaceful protest, resulting in the arrest of one FAU student and two others.

The protest comes in light of a surprise attack from Hamas terrorists that took place Saturday, which left over 1000 Israelis dead and thousands more wounded. The attack was the largest against Jews since the Holocaust, said President Biden.

According to a statement released from the university, the protest resulted in the arrest of three individuals, who were charged with resisting arrest, battery and disorderly conduct.

Through a public records request, the UP obtained only one arrest report. The reporting officer, Sarah Dougherty, wrote that the student had intentionally elbowed a girl during the walk, and the girl said she would like to press charges. When the arresting officer, Lieutenant Richard Jacobson, attempted to cuff her, she kicked him. He retaliated by pushing her face down on the ground and placing restraints on her.

As a response to this week’s on-campus protests, FAU repeated its position condemning the recent attacks and supporting Israel’s right to defend themselves. FAU released the following university-wide statement Wednesday afternoon.

“With the mounting death toll, seeing and reading eye-witness accounts of the brutality is stomach-turning. This week, Florida Atlantic University has clearly stated its support for Israel and fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself. In the wake of on-campus protests denouncing Israel’s actions this week, the university today restates this position.”

Angel, a Palestinian-American Muslim student, who declined to provide her last name out of fear for her safety, says she understands how pro-Israeli individuals feel. She believes the university should have acknowledged what she believes were Israeli occupation abuses in past decades.

“The motivation to support Palestine is that my family is Palestinian, and we have a long history of being ripped from our homes. I wish Israel would stop. I know that’s not gonna happen,” she said.

Nathan Mitchell, treasurer of the FAU College Republicans, said he is strongly against the state of Israel and supports the Palestinian liberation movement.

“I sympathize with the Palestinian cause for the simple fact that Israel continuously slaps us in the face, even as an American Christian,” Mitchell said. 

The demonstration originated in front of the Atlantic Dining Hall, where at least 20 law enforcement officers and State Troopers were on the scene to provide protection and maintain order during the demonstration. The University Press reached out to FAUPD to get a comment on the number of police officers at the event, but did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

Tensions reached a boiling point at around 1:30 p.m., when at least 20 pro-Israel counter-protesters approached the pro-Palestine demonstrators near the Breezeway, enraged over the attacks this past weekend. A physical altercation broke out between the two groups, leading to the arrest of three individuals.

Angela Nichols, a political science professor, was standing on the outskirts of the protest. She witnessed a police officer use “unnecessary force” on a girl when two protesters on opposite sides collided.

“I didn’t see her physically touch him on purpose. And then somebody hit her, and she started yelling, and then all the sudden I saw a cop grab her by the head, throw her to the ground, and put his knee on her throat immediately,” Nichols said.

Nichols also recounted another instance of violence, where she says an officer used his body weight to pull a pro-Israel man to the ground by his shirt.

“The cop thought one of those students had hit him. All of the sudden, the student ends up arrested too, and that student just got caught by being tumbled down by this incident that occurred,” she said.

Angel said that at the Monday pro-Israeli protest, she was carrying a Palestinian flag on her back and Israel supporters harassed her. She wants students to know that she does not support terrorist acts by Hamas.

“I say to the Israelis on campus, especially the ones that harassed me, that I do not support Hamas, and none of us here support any terrorist organization of any kind. We are here for the sake of our families, and hopefully, we can find common ground. Especially here in the U.S.,” Angel stated.

Nichols believes both groups should exercise compassion for one another.

“You can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine at the same time, even though that sounds like an oxymoron right now, because you can believe that both deserve citizenship, you can believe that both deserve rights, you can believe that,” she said. “Both deserve independence and recognition for the trauma, pain and suffering that everyone who lives in that part of the world has been enduring.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Elisabeth Gaffney is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach her at [email protected].

Kirk Orr and Jason Steinfeld are contributing writers for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Elisabeth Gaffney, Managing Editor
Elisabeth is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism and double minoring in linguistics and sociology. She is a creative, kitten and coffee-loving workaholic with a love for the performing arts and storytelling. She hopes to one day work as a reporter at an established newspaper.

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  • J

    Jr-exeOct 13, 2023 at 8:00 pm

    This is the 7th article I’ve had to read through to finally get a detailed unbiased opinion of what happened. I genuinely want to thank you for good journalism.