Pro-Palestine Protest Disrupts U of M’s Graduation Ceremony as Schools Prep for Commencements

Pro-Palestine protesters marched toward the University of Michigan’s commencement stage Saturday as ongoing campus protests over Israel’s conflict in Gaza roll into graduation season.

Videos taken by eyewitnesses at Michigan Stadium show dozens of protesters walking through the aisles holding Palestinian flags. The protesters could be heard reciting chants such as “disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” and “Israel bombs, U of M pays, how many kids have you killed today?”

The protest took place early on during Saturday’s ceremony, which continued without incident. The school’s university police blocked the protesters from fully reaching the stage and shepherded them to the back of the stadium, The New York Times reports. No arrests were made at the graduation ceremony, but video from the night before shows Michigan State Police pushing back against student protesters outside the University of Michigan Museum of Art, leading to at least one arrest, according to nonprofit news outlet Bridge Michigan.

Michigan State Police did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

Anxiety over pro-Palestine protesters disrupting graduation ceremonies has plagued universities for weeks before the ceremonies are set to take place. The University of Southern California canceled its main graduation ceremony last week due to escalating fallout from barring the school’s valedictorian speaker from making a speech at graduation.

In another instance, the University of Vermont canceled its commencement speaker, United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on Friday after she vetoed resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, which led to students protesting her appearance..

Though student protests against the war in Gaza have taken place since the conflict began on Oct. 7, the movement gained significant attention after students at Columbia University established its Gaza Solidarity Encampment on April 17, demanding the university divest from Israel or else it will continue to occupy the campus.

In the weeks since, dozens of Gaza solidarity encampments have popped up on campuses across the country, with some schools such as Brown University and Pomona College agreeing to student demands to quell further action, while other colleges including Columbia University and UCLA have called police on students, escalating the already-tense situation on campuses. More than 2,000 student protesters have been arrested over the past month, according to the Associated Press.

More from Rolling Stone

Best of Rolling Stone