Photo credit:  Paul Becker, Free Press staff

About 700 students, faculty, & community members held a 6-hour protest at Ohio State University campus yesterday. Protesters called OSU to divest investments from companies with links to Israel.  The protest ended when nearly 70 police officers and Ohio State High Patrol brutalized protesters while they were performing "Isha" Muslim prayers and arrested nearly 40 protesters, including students, faculty, one Jewish protester, and community members. There were 20 members who were not affiliated by OSU. Those were parents and other family members of the protesters who came to support the students and be there for them in the event of arrest.  After all, it makes no difference if they were students, faculty or not. OSU is public university and is supported by our tax-payers money. 

Dr. Sumaya Hamadmad, one of the main organizers and an OSU research scientist who was among three people arrested earlier yesterday at the Oval, eloquently argued that sitting on the grass was not trespassing as it was public property funded by Ohio taxpayers. Students have every right to advocate for causes they believe in. Recent protest on 34 campuses across our county have sparked public outrage due to the violent and disturbing arrest of students and faculty for speaking about Palestine and condemning the Israeli genocide and forced starvation in Gaza. While private colleges and universities are not directly bound by the First Amendment, publicly funded colleges and universities should protect student activism, free expression, and peaceful protests on campus. Threats of arrest, suspension, expulsion, and/or departing foreign students on visa study is un-American and illegal. Such practice is not even deployed in communist countries or rogue nations. OSU President Carter must protect students from targeted discrimination, harassment and violence. Above all, Ohio State University may not penalize people for how they talk about the war in Gaza and for protesting the Israeli war crimes that have killed and injured over 110,000 people in Palestine, most of whom are women and children. Still, there are about 10,000 people buried under the rubbles. I should note here that those few dozen protesters who were arrested at OSU were taken to jail in Franklin Country Sheriff's buses. That is in addition to 3 other people who were arrested earlier in the day when they attempted to set up an encampment on the South Oval, similar to other universities across the US. While being detained at the Franklin County Jail, protesters' civil and religious rights were clearly violated according to a video posted on Instagram by OSU Student Dalal Shalah who is a lead organizer in which she stated. 1- Protesters were attacked by the police during prayer at the Campus.2- Protesters were strip-searched in jail.3- Muslim women were forced to remove their hijab (head scarf) for mug shots. 4- Muslim protesters were denied the right to perform their five obligatory prayers.5- One Jewish protester was denied kosher food.6- Muslim protesters were denied halal food.  That is preposterous! OSU and state officials including Ohio Government DeWine owes OSU students and the Muslim community an explanation and an apology. First, Ohio taxpayers got robbed by having our tax dollars fund the Israeli genocide in Gaza and now we have Prime Minister of Israel (a foreign leader) demanding our leaders' crackdown of free speech on college campuses. This is infuriating beyond belief and that feels like freedom was suppressed at Ohio State University. Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a Palestinian freelance writer and retired USAF veteran who lives in Westerville, Ohio. He could be reached at: