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Disruptive anti-Israel walkout protests hit Yale, GWU graduation ceremonies

Demonstrations prompt some boos, jeers: ‘We got a lot of pushback from a lot of guests’

Distruptive walkouts unfolded at Yale and George Washington universities on Sunday as students, and some parents and faculty, took part in anti-Israel protests.

Pro-Palestinian protests at commencement ceremonies have become frequent in recent weeks, and the latest two incidents join other demonstrations at Columbia, NYU and Northeastern graduations, as some students choose to disrupt the occasions and use it as a platform to advance their grievances.

News reports indicate that during the walkouts, the participants are also booed.

At Yale, it is estimated that several hundred walked out during the commencement ceremony to support the Palestinian cause.

Videos posted on social media show the cap and gown-donning activists hoisting signs, waving the Palestinian flag, and chanting “disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest” and “free, free Palestine.”

Prior to the walkout, Yale President Peter Salovey “was interrupted by boos and cries of ‘shame’ by groups of pro-Palestinian student demonstrators in the crowd, who have expressed vocal criticism of the University in recent weeks for its decision not to divest from weapons manufacturers,” the Yale Daily News reported, adding:

During the conferral of student prizes, some students stood up and turned to parents and family members in the audience with handmade banners that read slogans like “2024 imagines a free Palestine” or “Yale divest.”

Towards the end of the ceremony, during a student-led segment of the ceremony dedicated to revisiting class memories, Alanah Armstead ’24 urged the audience to remember that “there are no graduations in Gaza, in Palestine, for students and children we will never meet.”

Armstead, one of three speakers on stage, ended her address by calling out “free, free Palestine,” which drew a response from some students in the crowd. Chants of “free Palestine” continued uninterrupted in the student section for about 45 seconds before the next student speaker began their remarks.

Other chants of “USA” broke out in the student section, as well as some boos in the family seating area. Administrators and event staff stood idly and waited for chants to subside. Earlier in the day, a statement regarding campus free expression policies had been played on the loudspeaker and displayed on the video board.

“Interfering with a speaker’s ability to speak and the audience’s ability to hear and see is not consistent with the university free expression policy,” the statement read.

At George Washington University, a similar scene unfolded.

“The walk-outs happened in two waves during GW President Ellen Granberg’s speech, which student protestors booed and chanted through. The protesting graduates and other ceremony attendees joined the around 50 mostly college-aged protestors, including GW students, who had been across the street chanting throughout the ceremony,” NBC News reported.

Like at Yale, there was some push back to the demonstration. The news station reported one participant stating: “We got a lot of pushback from a lot of guests — chanting the national anthem at us, telling us to go home, go back to our country. But the students really stood in solidarity together, it was really nice.”

MORE: Harvard anti-Israel group threatens disruptions at this week’s commencement

IMAGE: X screenshot

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