Northeastern Students Arrested Protesting Gaza Genocide – NEU Admin Doubles Down on Disinformation

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by Vanessa Bartlett

BOSTON – This morning, over 100 protesters at the Northeastern encampment were arrested after occupying Centennial Common for two days. Students chose to occupy the quad in order to pressure their university to disclose their financial ties to Israel, divest, and denounce Israel’s genocide of Palestinians.

The Northeastern Liberation Zone encampment was bustling with activity ahead of mass arrests

Northeastern University released a statement defending their choice to send police in riot gear after peaceful protesters. The administration claimed that hateful speech was the motivation for the arrests, stating “Last night, the use of virulent antisemitic slurs, including ‘Kill the Jews,’ crossed the line. We cannot tolerate this kind of hate on our campus.” 

Working Mass obtained footage of a Zionist counter protester yelling “Kill the Jews!” Organizers did not engage with the provocations, stayed on message and continued to chant pro-Palestinian slogans like “Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest!”

Huskies for a Free Palestine (HFP) released a statement this morning, saying “After deploying campus police, city police, and state police on peaceful activist students, Northeastern Administration published an entirely false and fabricated narrative that members of our encampment engaged in hate speech early this morning.” 

Wynn, who chose to be identified by their first name only, an organizer with HFP and SJP and a student at Northeastern said, “I feel confident in saying that I think Northeastern knows that statement is a lie.” 

“They know what it was like, they had eyes on that scene every moment of every day. If something happened, they knew what happened. And I can’t think of another reason to make the statement so obviously slanted against us,” said Wynn. 

Police maintained a presence at Centennial Common throughout the two days of occupation. On the first day, activists successfully prevented Boston Police and Northeastern Police from conducting arrests and dismantling the encampment.

At 12:08 p.m GBH reporter Tori Bedford posted a response she received from Northeastern VP of communications Renata Nyul. “The fact that the phrase ‘Kill the Jews’ was shouted on our campus is not in dispute,” Nyul wrote. “Any suggestion that repulsive antisemitic comments are sometimes acceptable depending on the context is reprehensible.”

Students are calling on Northeastern to issue an apology for punishing students who did not engage in hateful speech. 

“Renata Nyul has spread blatant misinformation about myself and my friends, and it is putting myself and my friends in immediate danger from harassment, violence, doxxing and death threats,” said Vivian Dai, a Young Democratic Socialists of America member, who was arrested today. 

Police kept legal observers away while protesters were brought into a nearby building, where they were zip-tied and sent to precincts for booking.

“I demand an immediate correction from Nyul so that she can fulfill her duties to protect her students at Northeastern,” said Dai.

It is unclear how many of the counter protesters are affiliated with Northeastern, or if any of the counter protesters caught on video will face criminal charges. Northeastern University has yet to respond to requests for comment on their choice to have student protesters arrested in light of this video, which disproves the narrative shared by the Boston Globe and other news sources. 

“I think it’s absolutely mind blowing watching this happen at the school that I go to,” said Wynn, with regard to Northeastern’s hard-line response to the encampment protests. “And I have to assume as a student of capitalist theory that it must just be money, there must be enough money and reputation tied up in Israeli startups and Raytheon, and government programs that there is a large financial and reputation reason to really strongly discourage this kind of action.”

The Boston chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now issued a joint statement in support of the students and denouncing the false claims of antisemitism.

Vanessa Bartlett is a staff organizer for UAW, an editor of Working Mass, and a member of Boston DSA. She has a background in print and radio journalism, but please don’t hold that against her.

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