University of Michigan commencement interrupted by Pro-Palestine protesters

Pro-Palestine protesters made their voices heard during the University of Michigan's commencement Saturday.  They spoke out against the Israel-Hamas war, colliding with the annual pomp-and-circumstance of graduation ceremonies.

No arrests were reported and the protest — comprised of about 50 people, many wearing traditional Arabic kaffiyeh along with their graduation caps — didn’t seriously interrupt the nearly two-hour event at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, which was attended by tens of thousands of people.

One protest banner read: "No universities left in Gaza."


ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - MAY 4: Students demonstate during a Pro-Palestinian protest during the University of Michigan's spring commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A group of students called for the Universit

U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro paused a few times during his remarks, saying at one point, "Ladies and gentlemen, if you can please draw your attention back to the podium."

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As he administered an oath to graduates in the armed forces, Del Toro said they would "protect the freedoms that we so cherish," including the "right to protest peacefully."

The university has allowed protesters to set up an encampment on campus but police assisted in breaking up a large gathering Friday night, and one person was arrested.

Across the country, tent encampments of protesters calling on universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support the war in Gaza have spread across campuses nationwide in recent weeks in a student movement unlike any other this century. Some schools have reached deals with the protesters to end the demonstrations and reduce the possibility of disrupting final exams and commencements.

Some encampments have been dismantled and protesters arrested in police crackdowns.

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The Associated Press has recorded at least 61 incidents since April 18 where arrests were made at campus protests across the U.S. More than 2,400 people have been arrested on 47 college and university campuses. The figures are based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.

The protests stem from the Israel-Hamas conflict that started on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking roughly 250 hostages.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. Israeli strikes have devastated the enclave and displaced most of Gaza’s inhabitants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.