Florida’s university system, backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, recently mandated the closure of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters….reports Asian Lite News
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has legally challenged Florida’s prohibition on pro-Palestinian university groups, asserting that the state’s actions violate students’ free speech rights amid heightened tensions on U.S. campuses over the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Florida’s university system, backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, recently mandated the closure of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the University of Florida’s SJP chapter, seeking a preliminary injunction against the state’s order preventing SJP from accessing school funds and campus facilities.
Governor DeSantis defends disbanding the groups, claiming that organisations associated with a foreign terrorist movement have no place on university campuses. The lawsuit argues for students’ constitutional right to associate and express views on public matters.
Other universities, including Brandeis, Columbia, and George Washington, have also taken action against SJP, citing the national organization’s support for the Hamas attack and violations of school policies. SJP chapters facing suspension and bans protest these actions, with demonstrations occurring at Columbia and George Washington universities.
Recently, a clash was erupted between pro-Palestinian protesters and police outside the Democratic Party’s national headquarters on Wednesday night, resulting in a lockdown of adjacent US Congress offices. The US Capitol Police, in a statement on social media, disclosed their efforts to restrain around 150 individuals engaged in what they described as illegal and violent protests near the party offices, leading to arrests.
As tensions escalated, police ensured the safety of legislators present at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) offices, guiding them out of the building. The protesters were advocating for a ceasefire and an end to Israeli military actions in Gaza. California lawmaker Brad Sherman, using social media, reported the violence, accusing the protesters of being anti-Israel and thanked the police for averting potential harm.
Legislator Sean Casten from Illinois criticised the protesters for obstructing entrances, expressing concern about police being unaware of their intentions. He, too, shared his evacuation experience, noting the assistance of armed officers.
Images circulated on social media depicted protesters wearing black T-shirts with “Cease Fire Now” inscriptions in white letters, engaging in scuffles with police officers near the building’s entrance. Security measures were implemented, instructing lawmakers and staff in nearby buildings to remain indoors due to the significant demonstration activity.
This clash followed a pro-Israel rally on the National Mall the previous day, underscoring the heightened tensions surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict.