Sen. Murphy says he’s not ‘criminally offended’ by pro-Palestinian protests that are peaceful

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Sunday argued the rights of those participating in peaceful pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses should be protected, pointing to the country’s history of multi-day demonstrations.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” about the GOP calls for the Biden administration to be more forceful in quelling the protests, Murphy said, “We should… all speak out, right? When [a] protest crosses a line, when it becomes violent or when there’s hate speech.”

“But 95 percent of the young people who are on these campuses are there because they believe there is a fundamental injustice being perpetrated in Israel, and we should protect their right to peacefully protest,” he continued. “And, you know, we also have a history of overnight, multi-day protests in this country.”

Protests calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and a halt in U.S. military aid to Israel have lasted for more than a week at a series of college campuses across the country. Some schools called in local and state law enforcement to break up the protests, leading to the arrests of hundreds of students.

Many of the protests have been reported to be peaceful, but concerns have been raised over the safety of students and the proliferation of antisemitic rhetoric. Many protest groups have rejected the characterizations of their recent demonstrations as antisemitic.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with protecting the ability of peaceful protests to last beyond a handful of hours,” Murphy said. “Yes, there is a point at which these protests are going to get in the way of the efficient operation of a campus. But I am not criminally offended by the fact that some of these protests go on for multiple days.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) last week visited Columbia University, the first school to launch a major protest, and suggested President Biden call in the National Guard to stop the demonstrations, describing them as “dangerous.”

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Shannon Bream then pressed Murphy if his believes of the use of law enforcement change in the case of threats against students.

“In some of these campus protests, there have been legitimate threats to students on campus. And I think in those instances, campus police or local police can and should handle those threats,” Murphy said.

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