SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 25, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Emerson College

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 25, 2024, Boston police arrested over 100 people while clearing a pro-Palestine tent encampment near Emerson College.

On April 21, 2024, students affiliated with Emerson College’s Students for Justice in Palestine set up an encampment in the 2 Boylston Place alley, demanding that the college disclose its investments, divest from Israel, and call for a ceasefire in Palestine.

On April 24, 2024, the college’s administration warned students that city fire and police officials had informed the college that the tents were in violation of city ordinances. On April 25, 2024, around 2 AM, Boston police forcibly removed the tents and arrested 108 people, with some being pulled to the ground or dragged away. Videos circulated in the media showing blood on the ground from the violent clash between police and protesters. During the confrontation, four police officers were injured, with one suffering serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Some of the students were brought into Boston Municipal Court, but the court dates were postponed for the following weeks. On May 2nd, students appeared in court; however, their arraignments were postponed until September 18th.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence and the forcible arrest of students by police. State authorities have a responsibility to respect and refrain from restricting or punishing the nonviolent exercise of the right to free speech and freedom of assembly. Likewise, university authorities have an obligation to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of students exercising their rights peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and democratic society generally.