Watch CBS News

Brandeis protesters plead not guilty after arrests during pro-Palestinian demonstration

Brandeis protesters plead not guilty after arrests during pro-Palestinian demonstration
Brandeis protesters plead not guilty after arrests during pro-Palestinian demonstration 02:28

WALTHAM - Dozens of Brandeis University students walked out of class Monday in reaction to an pro-Palestinian campus protest last week that resulted in seven arrests. 

All seven were in court Monday morning and pleaded not guilty. Three of them are students, four are not. Waltham police said those arrested ignored orders to leave after the campus demonstration "became unruly." They faced charges that included disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly and assault and battery on a police officer.

About 100 people were at the gathering on Friday, protesting the decision by Brandeis to dismantle the "Students for Justice in Palestine" group and to call for the "liberation" of the Palestinian people. Tensions have been running high at college campuses in Massachusetts and around the country over the war Israel has waged on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which began with a terror attack by Hamas militants on October 7.

Brandeis said that Friday's group was using threatening statements and was asked to disperse four times before police stepped in. WBZ-TV's Louisa Moller spoke with some who were arrested. They called their protest peaceful, and said it was police who were violent.

"The police were incredibly violent on Friday. They dislocated my knee-cap. They put their hands down my pants," said John Napoleone, a Brandeis student who was arrested.  

"I saw police choking out the students, like hands on the front of their necks choking them. I saw police with their knees in the backs of kids. It was really very horrific," Brandeis student Farah Mahmoud said. "The rest of the police that weren't actually involved in the arresting were going around trying to disperse the group and they had their batons out and they were kind of just pushing people back to get them away, taking people's signs. It was honestly very violent from the police whereas the students were very, very peaceful the whole time."

Brandeis says the students were chanting speech the university deems as hateful such as, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

"We kind of know exactly what that connotation is in the Jewish community, which is that there should be no Jewish state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea," said Meshulam Ungar, a Brandeis senior who supports the university's decision to dismantle the group Students for Justice in Palestine.

"So, you can understand why as a Jew, as a pro-Isreal Jew, I would feel scared, threatened by somebody who suggested that from the River to the Sea there should be no Jews or Jewish state living there," Brandeis student Michael Schwartz added.

Brandeis is a private, liberal arts university founded as nonsectarian by the Jewish community. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.