Emory protests: University launches review of response to pro-Palestine rally, arrests

Emory University has launched a review into the Atlanta college's response to the pro-Palestine protests that ended with dozens arrested on campus.

On April 25, students and others calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war set up an encampment on the school's campus. 

Emory officials said the protesters who had set up an encampment were trespassing on private property and refused to leave, leading the school to ask the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Patrol for assistance. 

During the chaos, police arrested 28 people, including 20 members of the Emory community. FOX 5 Atlanta cameras were rolling when at least one person arrested was shot with a Taser by Georgia State Patrol Troopers.

MORE: Emory University protests: Atlanta police release body camera footage of arrests

Police officers arrest a demonstrator during a pro-Palestinian protest against the war in Gaza at Emory University on April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage / AFP) (Photo by ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

In the days following the arrest, Emory President Gregory L. Fenves announced that the university would conduct a review of the events surrounding the protests.

"Let me be clear: I am devastated that members of our community were caught up in law enforcement activity enforcing the removal of the encampment. The videos of these interactions are deeply distressing. I take Thursday’s events very seriously and we are launching a thorough review of them so that we can develop recommendations to improve how we keep our community safe," Fenves wrote.

He said the review will examine the decision to use external law enforcement agencies on campus.

On Friday, the school announced that it had hired attorney Richard H. Deane Jr. to lead the review. Deane, an attorney at the Atlanta office of the global law firm Jones Day, has worked as a magistrate judge and as a U.S. attorney and district attorney.

"Deane and his team will be given full latitude to examine all of the factors that led to the April 25 arrests," a spokesperson for the university wrote. "The thorough review, now in its early stages, will be conducted over the next several weeks."

After Deane's review is complete, the university expects to share any process improvements that may be implemented.

The review will not examine the use of force by the Atlanta Police Department officers or the Georgia State troopers.


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

The day started with dozens of people with tents, bullhorns and other displays at the university's Decatur campus - similar to protests at other major universities across the country.

Police responding to the scene used Tasers and pepper balls to bring the crowd under control. Several people were placed in handcuffs and loaded into vans. 

Video circulated widely on social media showing two women who identified themselves as professors being detained, with one of them slammed to the ground by one officer as a second officer then pushed her chest and face onto a concrete sidewalk.  

The school claimed that the group were activists who were not connected with Emory, with a spokesperson claiming that the protesters were "attempting to disrupt our university as our students finish classes and prepare for finals." Days later, Emory President Gregory Fenves backtracked from that claim, saying it "was not fully accurate." 

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Police officers arrest a demonstrator during a pro-Palestinian protest against the war in Gaza at Emory University on April 25, 2024, in Atlanta. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage / AFP) (Photo by ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the protests, a majority of both Emory's undergraduate students and the faculty senate for Emory's College of Arts and Science have voted in favor of a no-confidence referendum against Fenves.

In May, the Atlanta Police Department released hours worth of body camera footage that showed the arrests.

"APD is currently reviewing our body-worn camera footage to determine if our officers made any policy violations," a spokesperson for the department said. "The Emory Police Department is the lead agency for campus matters and is managing this incident."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.