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Pro-Palestinian protesters shut down Penn trustee meeting

A University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees meeting on Friday was shut down by a group of pro-Palestinian students protesting the institution’s involvement with Israel.

The meeting lasted only a couple minutes before it was forced to come to a close due to the interruption from the Freedom School for Palestine group, according to local news reports.

The meeting was the first one at which acting Penn President J. Larry Jameson was to preside. He took over after former President Elizabeth Magill was forced to resign in December after equivocating at a Congressional hearing about whether calls for genocide against Jews were against Penn’s rules for campus speech.

A group of 12 students began to protest as Jameson started to talk. They waved their hands about, some of which were painted red to symbolize blood, and yelled “Endowment transparency now. Divest from genocide,” according to the New York Times.

The protestors also wore keffiyehs, a Palestinian scarf, the Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper reported.

The activists are from a group called Freedom School for Palestine and claimed that their action came in response to Penn’s relationship with Israel, citing a study-abroad program, a recent faculty trip to Israel, and “donations to the I.D.F. – the Israeli military,” the Times reported.

“We condemn the board of trustees’ support for the genocidal Israeli state, and we call on Penn administration to support Palestinian students, drop disciplinary charges against pro-Palestinian demonstrators and divest from genocide,” the group said in a statement.

A Penn spokesman told the Times the university does not make donations to the I.D.F. The newspaper also reported it “was not clear whether Penn had investments in the country.”

The widespread pro-Hamas, pro-Palestinian protests on campuses across the country have shifted emphasis recently from accusations of supporting general “genocide” to more specific issues of university endowments. Protesters want schools to disinvest from anything Israeli.

The Times reported Jameson had begun his speech to the trustees by commenting on how happy the students at Penn are.

“They’re exhilarated to be here. They thrive on the eminent academics, research and work that improves the world around,” he said, then was interrupted by the protesters’ chanting.

In an Instagram post by Freedom School for Palestine, the group stated Penn police had threatened them with arrest and followed them off campus.

“The 12 student activists, who disrupted today’s Stated Meeting of the Board of Trustees, were heard and acknowledged three times by the Chair of the Board,” a university spokesperson told the Philly Voice. “Their ongoing disruption of the meeting violates the University’s Code of Student Conduct and Guidelines on Open Expression.”

MORE: Jewish students spat on, told to ‘go back’ at Tufts: report

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