AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 500 UMass Amherst students walked out of their classes on Wednesday to protest UMass Amherst’s ties with weapon manufacturers like Raytheon.
This walkout and sit-in was to protest the university’s ties amid increased aggression from the Israeli government towards Palestinian people. Students delivered their demands to the university’s chancellor Javier Reyes.
They demanded that UMass cut all financial and physical ties and partnerships with weapon manufacturers like Raytheon and replace them with jobs that work towards a more sustainable and demilitarized future. They also demand that UMass condemns the Israeli massacre of Palestinians and condemn the blockade on Gaza.
“We are calling for boycott, divestment, sanctions and end their relationships with Israeli companies. We basically are calling for a statement of solidarity from Chancellor Reyes who has not commented on the situation in Palestine and the genocide that is taking place right now,” said Maysun Batley, Co-President of UMass Students for Justice in Palestine.
Students are planning to remain in the building until these demands are met. The demonstrators said it’s important for every American, especially college students who have historically been mobilizing efforts and have been ahead of the social tide, to recognize their place and persevere.
UMass Amherst statement regarding Whitmore Building Protest
“UMass Amherst recognizes the right of students to demonstrate on university premises, which is consistent with the university’s commitment to free speech and the advocacy of opinions and ideas protected under the First Amendment.
Protesters presented their demands as part of their march to the Whitmore Administration Building. The protestors’ specific demands do not align with the university’s publicly stated positions and policies. The Chancellor previously detailed the university’s position on the war in the Middle East in his statement to campus on October 10, 2023.”
Demonstrators held a planned sit-in in the Whitmore Administration Building Wednesday afternoon. Students informed administrators that they planned to occupy the building until its closing. According to UMass, that building closes at 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and after that members of the public are required to leave.
When demonstrators chose to remain inside the building following several verbal warnings, UMass Police began arrested them for trespassing.
According to protest organizers, police began arresting demonstrators after 6:40 p.m. and continued through 2:00 a.m. A total of 57 demonstrators were arrested and were later able to post bail in the evening through Thursday morning.