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Body bags, fake blood left at University of Michigan regents' homes amid pro-Palestine protests

Body bags and fake blood left at University of Michigan regents' homes amid pro-Palestine protests
Body bags and fake blood left at University of Michigan regents' homes amid pro-Palestine protests 02:39

(CBS DETROIT) — University of Michigan officials said the student groups who organized an encampment on campus are taking responsibility for protesting at Board of Regents members' homes, leaving fake body bags and toys — both painted with what appears to be fake blood. The incident occurred amid ongoing protests over campus investments in Israel.

Officials said that on Wednesday, about 30 students "staged demonstrations at the private residence of at least one U-M Board of Regents member and went to several others' residences."

The university said a few protestors were masked. The protestors left as police arrived.

The University of Michigan's Department of Public Affairs shared these photos of a display left at a Board of Regents member's home, along with an image showing the incident from a doorbell camera. University of Michigan

"Activities included placing tents and fake corpses wrapped in bloodied sheets on the lawn, marching and chanting, and posting demands on doors," the university said in a statement. "The tactics used today represent a significant and dangerous escalation in the protests that have been occurring on campus. Going to an individual's private residence is intimidating behavior and, in this instance, illegal trespassing. This kind of conduct is not protected speech; it's dangerous and unacceptable."

The university said student groups Jewish Voice for Peace, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, and the Transparency, Accountability, Humanity, Reparations, Investment, Resistance (TAHRIR) Coalition are claiming responsibility. 

An Instagram post from the former group's account included a caption reading, in part, "Regent Hubbard, we will hold you accountable for the 35,000+ Palestinians martyrs whose death (sic) you funded and profited from. No matter how many times you call on violent cops to brutalize students, cancel and move your meetings to hide from students, and refuse to admit this university's and YOUR complicity in genocide, we will continue to protest. You cannot hide."

The University of Michigan's Department of Public Affairs shared a photo of a display left in front of a Board of Regents member's home. University of Michigan

Regents Sarah Hubbard and Jordan Acker posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) that protestors came to their homes with demands early Wednesday morning.

The Board of Regents is meeting virtually Thursday afternoon. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson responded to Acker's post, calling Wednesday's protest "horrific and unacceptable," adding:

"As someone who once had armed protestors outside my home in the dark of night, I know the fear it invokes as you shelter inside trying to protect your child as you wait for law enforcement to arrive or the group to disperse. I am all for individuals' right to peacefully protest, but a line is crossed in incidents like these.

"A group of people targeting one person, at home, particularly at night, is menacing. And ineffective. If the goal is to change minds, history and my own experience underscore that protesting outside an official's home is rarely if ever effective at achieving the goals of those gathering — and oftentimes, it backfires. Protestors across the country have organized encampments, calling for the university to divest in Israel."

This comes more than a week after dozens of protestors briefly marched during the University of Michigan commencement ceremony on May 4. Protesters in kaffiyeh and graduation caps held out Palestinian flags and posters as they walked through the aisles. Campus police prevented them from reaching the stage.

For Palestinians, Wednesday marked the Nakba, a word that means catastrophe. The date May 15 marks the mass displacement in 1948 of more than 700,000 Palestinians during the formation of the modern state of Israel.

In Chicago, a number of students at DePaul University walked out to mark the date. Students held a moment of silence, while faculty at the school held a teach-in to highlight what they described as the decades-long struggle for Palestinians. On Thursday morning, police had begun clearing the encampment on that campus.

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