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Poll reveals 67 percent Americans concerned about campus protests

A recent survey reveals that more than two-thirds of Americans harbor fears of pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses turning violent.

Released on Wednesday, the poll found that nearly 32 percent of respondents are “very concerned” about the prospect of violence, with just over 35 percent expressing “somewhat concern.”

The protests, advocating for a cease-fire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, have sparked unrest on college campuses nationwide for nearly three weeks. Demonstrators are demanding universities and the U.S. government sever ties with Israel.

While around 15 percent of those surveyed claim to be “not very concerned,” and 14 percent state they are “not at all concerned,” approximately 3 percent remain undecided, stated the poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University.

Conducted from April 30 to May 3 among 1,000 registered voters, the USA Today and Suffolk University survey carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Since the inception of the major encampment at Columbia University about three weeks ago, over 1,000 individuals, including students and faculty, have been arrested.

While some protests have been peaceful, tensions have recently escalated, resulting in clashes between protesters, law enforcement, and counterprotesters. Several colleges have called in law enforcement to dismantle encampments or disperse building takeovers, citing disruptions to campus activities.

Incidents such as the seizure of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University and violent altercations at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have drawn attention. Last week, more than 200 UCLA students were arrested following clashes with police.

President Biden has condemned acts of vandalism and trespassing at some demonstrations while defending the right to peaceful protest. Concerns have also been raised regarding the proliferation of antisemitic rhetoric and the safety of Jewish students, although protest groups have contested these characterizations.

There is a notable divergence in views between Republicans and Democrats regarding the motives and beliefs of the protesters.

The survey reveals that approximately 64 percent of Republicans perceive the demonstrations as reflecting antisemitism, compared to only 22 percent of Democrats. Conversely, about 57 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans believe the protesters’ motives do not reflect antisemitism.

Conducted from April 30 to May 3 among 1,000 registered voters, the USA Today/Suffolk University survey carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


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