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Potential Consequences of Campus Demonstrations



Last Updated on May 2, 2024 by Robert C. Hoopes

In a week marked by intense protests against the ongoing conflict in Gaza, hundreds of U.S. college students found themselves facing criminal charges as a result of their activism. The protests, which included encampments, building takeovers, and civil unrest, led to over 300 arrests at Columbia University and the City College of New York alone. Additionally, 79 arrests were made at the University of Texas, 14 at Tulane University, and over 70 at Arizona State University.

However, not all of these arrests have led to convictions. In fact, Travis County prosecutors recently dropped charges against 57 individuals arrested at the University of Texas for criminal trespassing, citing a lack of probable cause. Prosecutors across the country may struggle to gain convictions for the protesters arrested, especially given the sheer number of arrests made in such a short period of time.

This is not the first time charges against protesters have been dropped en masse. Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, charges against many protesters similarly fell off court dockets. In the current situation, New York police have claimed to be focused on ridding the Columbia University campus of “outside agitators,” though the tactics used to make arrests at various universities have raised concerns among advocates.

Advocates have criticized the police for using tactics such as pepper spray, physical force, and drawing weapons on protesters. They argue that repressing these nonviolent demonstrations not only stifles freedom of speech but also puts students, faculty, and protestors in harm’s way. Charges against those arrested range from trespass to criminal mischief to burglary, with burglary being a felony charge in New York.

As the legal battles resulting from these protests play out, it remains to be seen whether the charges will stick or if they will ultimately be dropped like so many others before them.

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Robert is a talented writer and educator with a focus on MBA courses. He has years of experience teaching and writing about the intricacies of business education, and his work is highly regarded for its depth of insight and practical application. Robert holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from a reputable institution, and his academic background gives him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing MBA students. He has a talent for breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-understand language, making his writing accessible to a wide range of readers.

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