Police break up pro-Palestinian camp at the University of Michigan

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Police broke up a pro-Palestinian encampment Tuesday at the University of Michigan, less than a week after demonstrators showed up at the home of a school official and placed fake body bags on her lawn.

Video posted online by Detroit-area TV stations showed police moving people away from the camp on the Diag, a common site for campus protests.

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The encampment had been set up in late April near the end of the school year.

President Santa Ono said in a statement that the encampment had become a threat to safety, with overloaded power sources and open flames.

Organizers had refused to comply with requests to make changes following an inspection by a fire marshal, he said.

“The disregard for safety directives was only the latest in a series of troubling events,” Ono said.

Protesters have demanded that the school’s endowment stop investing in companies with ties to Israel.

But the university insists it has no direct investments and less than $15 million placed with funds that might include companies in Israel. That’s less than 0.1 percent of the total endowment.

“There’s nothing to talk about. That issue is settled,” Sarah Hubbard, chair of the Board of Regents, said last week.

A group of 30 protesters showed up at her house before dawn last week and placed stuffed, red-stained sheets on her lawn to resemble body bags. They banged a drum and chanted slogans over a bullhorn.

Masked protesters also posted demands at the doors of other board members.

“This conduct is where our failure to address antisemitism leads literally — literally — to the front door of my home,” board member Mark Bernstein, a Detroit-area lawyer, said at a board meeting last week.

“Who’s next? When and where will this end? As a Jew, I know the answer to these questions because our experience is full of tragedies that we are at grave risk of repeating. Enough is enough.”

Students and others have set up tent encampments on campuses around the country to press colleges to cut financial ties with Israel.

Tensions over the war have been high on campuses since the fall, but demonstrations spread quickly following an April 18 police crackdown on an encampment at Columbia University.

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