Pro-Palestine protesters forcibly removed from Emory University campus, 28 arrested

Emory University officials say 28 people were arrested, including 20 members of the Emory community, in a clash between pro-Palestinian protesters and those against the Atlanta training facility and law enforcement on Thursday morning.

The day started with dozens of people with tents, bullhorns and other displays at the university's Decatur campus joining with other major universities across the country calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.  

According to an article posted on, the protest was in support of the people in Palestine and against the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters set up camp on the quad of Emory University and were subsequently removed by law enforcement on April 25, 2024. (FOX 5) 

The article claimed the protesters were a group of students from across "multiple Atlanta universities and community members" who have organized against "Cop City," which is the nickname that has been given to the training center, and the genocide of Palestinians at the "hands of U.S. imperialism."

The protesters say they are "demanding total institutional divestment from Israeli apartheid and Cop City at all Atlanta colleges and universities."

The protesters say Emory University was chosen because it is complicit in genocide and police militarization and it, along with Atlanta University Center Consortium, Georgia State University, and Georgia Tech, have intimidated and repressed students and employees who have spoken out in support of Palestinians. 

The writers of the article also claim that the roots of Cop City can be traced to the Israeli Urban Warfare Training Center, nicknamed "Mini Gaza," which was allegedly funded with $45 million from the U.S. The protesters are claiming that the training centers are live testing grounds for strategies deployed against marginalized peoples, whether in occupied Palestine or predominantly Black, working-class, and undocumented communities in Atlanta.

Laura Diamond, assistant vice president of University Communications at Emory University, released the following statement in response to the protest:

"Several dozen protesters trespassed into Emory University’s campus early Thursday morning and set up tents on the Quad. These individuals are not members of our community. They are activists attempting to disrupt our university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals. Emory does not tolerate vandalism or other criminal activity on campus. The Emory Police Department ordered the group to leave and contacted Atlanta Police for assistance."

Officers from the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Patrol were brought in to help Emory police remove the protesters from the university's property. The officers used Tasers and pepper balls to bring the crowd under control. Several people were placed in handcuffs and loaded into vans. Police reportedly arrested both students and faculty members. GSP troopers say all will be charged by the Emory Police Department. 

"I was just walking, so I don't know why," one person who was detained said.  

"Emory University, we are better than this. We are better than this," another detainee said. 

Video shot by FOX 5 crews shows one arrest where a Taser was used by Georgia State Patrol troopers. GSP released a statement later about the arrest which reads in part:

"On April 25, 2024, at 8:30 am, the Emory Police Department and Atlanta Police Department requested the assistance of DPS with an encampment protest at Emory University.  Georgia State Troopers and Motor Carrier Officers responded to break up the encampment but were met with protestors who threw bottles and refused to leave.  As Troopers and officers began to take the protestors into custody, one actively resisted arrest.  Troopers and Officers were able to place him on the ground and apply one handcuff. The subject continued to resist by shoving his other hand under his body to keep this hand from being secured with the second handcuff.  Troopers twice attempted a Taser drive-stun to the subject’s right shoulder but were unable to make contact.  Troopers then applied a Taser drive-stun to the subject’s abdomen for a 5.2 second cycle, but the subject continued to actively resist.  Troopers applied a Taser drive-stun to the subject’s right thigh for a 5.4 second cycle which allowed the subject to be taken into custody."

FOX 5 cameras also caught the moments a faculty member with the Philosophy Department was hauled away in handcuffs. She wasn't the only staff member detained.  

After police left, protesters continued to gather in a different area of the campus. 

Protests have been taking place at college campuses across the U.S. over the last few days.

More than 30 people were arrested, including a FOX 7 photographer, at the University of Texas on Wednesday after hundreds of students walked out of class to rally in support of Palestine. 

Pro-Palestinian protests have also taken place at Columbia University and New York University in New York City.  

Protests at Morehouse College and Kennesaw State University

Protests also took place at Morehouse College and Kennesaw State University on Thursday.

Dozens of Morehouse College students gathered outside the college, chanting and holding signs.

And over at Kennesaw State, students walked out of class at around 11:30 a.m. and gathered on the green.

Both of those protests, which were also demanding an end to the Israel-Hamas war, were peaceful.

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Morehouse College protest

Emory University targeted earlier in the week

Emory was also targeted earlier in the week. Graffiti was found on multiple buildings on the university's campus early Monday morning. Most of the graffiti was painted over by the time FOX 5 learned of the incident, but FOX 5 crews spotted "Stop Cop City" on at least one building. 

Cop City protests and vandals

Cop City protesters, activists and vandals have been causing issues around the city for well over a year. 

There have been multiple protests, including several incidents involving protesters or activists chaining themselves to construction equipment at busy construction sites in midtown or downtown Atlanta.

Construction equipment and police vehicles and motorcycles have also been set on fire by people who say they are against the training center.

According to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, protesters, activists and vandals have caused more than $10 million worth of damage. 

Protests against the project escalated after the fatal shooting in January 2023 of 26-year-old protester Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita. A prosecutor last month said he would not pursue charges against the state troopers who shot Paez Terán, saying he found that their use of deadly force was "objectively reasonable."

The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is on schedule to be open by the end of the year. 

Emory University shares letter

Emory University Vice President for Public Safety Cheryl Elliott released a letter addressed to the Emory Community late Thursday about the protest which reads:

"I’m writing to share further information about the events that took place on our Atlanta campus earlier today and the actions taken by the Emory Police Department (EPD). 

"At 7:41 a.m. a few dozen protestors arrived on campus. When they arrived, these individuals ignored and pushed past EPD officers stationed on the Quad and set up tents in an area where equipment and materials were staged for Commencement. Based on their actions and refusal to confirm their connection to Emory, EPD made the assessment that these individuals were not Emory community members. Officers with the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Patrol were then called to provide further assistance. Around this time, several social media accounts announced a protest and occupation of the Quad and issued a public call for non-Emory community members to join them. 

"EPD issued multiple warnings at different intervals advising individuals in the encampment that they were trespassing on private property and instructing them to leave. When those requests were ignored, Atlanta Police and Georgia State Patrol officers assisted EPD with dispersing the crowd and taking individuals into custody for criminal trespass. 

"During this process and the subsequent confrontations, objects were thrown at police officers. To our knowledge at this time, an individual attacked a non-EPD officer and appears to have been tased. Video of this incident has been widely shared on social media. Based on current information, this individual is not a member of the Emory community. Due to the direct assault of officers, law enforcement released chemical irritants into the ground to assist with crowd control. 

"As of this message, we have been notified that 28 individuals have been arrested, including 20 Emory community members, some of whom have been released. We are working with responding agencies to expedite the release of any Emory community members who remain in custody. 

"Our primary goal today was clearing the Quad of a disruptive encampment while holding individuals accountable to the law." 

Kemp, others react to Emory University protests

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp released the following statement regarding the protests on Emory University: 

"Across the country, Americans have watched with horror as radicals have terrorized Jewish students and forced them to evacuate from their dormitories and classrooms. College campuses are designed to be places of learning and often civil discourse, but in Georgia they will never be a safe haven for those who promote terrorism and extremism that threatens the safety of students. 

"I am thankful for state and local law enforcement who responded swiftly to Emory University’s call for support and restored order on campus. 

"Just as we have always done in the past, we will respect the right to peacefully protest, but those who choose to make the unwise decision to use our college campuses to intimidate, make threats, promote violence, or in any other way break the law will be met with the full force of the law and brought to justice."

The ACLU of Georgia issued the following statement: 

"The freedom to protest without retribution is essential to our democracy. Atlanta has historically been a place where citizens could freely exercise their rights to protest, but we have unfortunately seen a series of unconstitutional crackdowns on speech and protest across Georgia in recent years. The ACLU of Georgia is closely watching the current protests on college campuses across the state. Colleges and universities should be places where viewpoints, expression, debate, and free speech are encouraged, not suppressed."

Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson wrote:

"I am disturbed to learn that Governor Brian Kemp has deployed the Georgia State Patrol onto the Emory University campus. The mandate of GSP is to "investigate traffic crashes and enforce traffic and criminal laws on the state's roads." Georgia State Patrol has no place on the college campus. And neither do outside agitators who seek to usurp the peaceful protests against the Netanyahu government’s killing of tens of thousands of innocent Gazans by giving life to a false narrative that the protest movement is violent and anti-Semitic. Those participants who seek to intimidate, threaten, or demean our Jewish brothers and sisters have no place among the legitimate protesters. Reminiscent of the anti-war and civil rights protests on college campuses in the 1960s and 70s, today’s student protesters have a First Amendment right to protest against what they see as unjust policies and practices of their government, I fully support their right to peacefully protest on campus, and I call for the outside agitators to stay away from our college campuses."