Professor Beaten, Dragged By Police At Pro-Palestinian Rally At St. Louis Campus

A Southern Illinois University professor appeared to be beaten and injured by police at a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Washington University in St. Louis over the weekend, according to video footage shared by a bystander.

On Saturday, protesters gathered at a park in St. Louis and later moved the demonstration to the Washington University campus, the St. Louis Police Department (SLMPD) told HuffPost in an email. Video footage from the demonstration captures the chaos that unfolded as police crowded around protesters and attempted to restrain them.

In a video posted on X (formerly Twitter), the professor, Steve Tamari, can be seen moving closer to the chaos, trying to capture the scene on camera, when a police officer grabs his arm and pushes him back. A few other officers joined in restraining Tamari, grabbing the man, slamming him to the ground and later dragging his limp body to a police van.

In a post on X, a woman who identified herself as Tamari’s wife, Sandra Tamari, shared a video of her husband being “brutally beaten” by police, noting that both of them were arrested at the student encampment.

“I was arrested at the Gaza encampment at Washington University in St. Louis on [Saturday]. My husband, a 65-year old full professor at [St. Illinois University Edwardsville], was brutally beaten by police. Here is the video of his arrest,” she wrote.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the SLMPD, along with several other departments, was at the protest on Saturday. The St. Louis police told HuffPost that they did not arrest any protesters. The department also did not comment on the video of Tamari being beaten.

The Washington University Police Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

According to a statement on Tuesday from Washington University Chancellor Andrew D. Martin, 100 protesters — including 23 students and at least four faculty members of the college — were arrested Saturday and are facing criminal charges for trespassing, resisting arrest and assault.

Martin stated that the group that set up the encampment was in violation of the college’s policies and was asked to leave multiple times. When the group did not voluntarily leave, he said, the university decided to “peacefully remove them.”

Martin claimed that the protesters were “behaving aggressively, swinging flagpoles and sticks,” “attempting to break into locked buildings or to deface property” and were repeating chants “that many in our community find threatening and antisemitic.” Some Jewish students said they felt “terrified” during the protest, NBC News reported.

“To be crystal clear, we will not permit students and faculty, and we certainly will not permit outside interests, to take over Washington University property to establish encampments to promote any political or social agenda,” he wrote in the statement.

“To those who plan to continue to come to campus with the intention of disrupting our education and research mission and violating our policies, please know we will respond proportionately each and every time. You will not do this here.”

But in a post on X, Sandra Tamari pushed back on Martin’s characterization of the demonstration, claiming that protesters had not instigated violence or property damage and that there had been a “festival atmosphere” before police officers started making arrests.

“Everything that occurred on Saturday is documented and clear for those who wish to see.[Washington University] used violence against its own students, faculty, staff and the community to maintain its complicity in genocide,” she wrote on X.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri condemned the college’s response to the protest and the arrests in a statement on Tuesday.

“In its efforts to silence students and other protesters, the university set up a direct confrontation between police officers and student activists. The escalatory tactics of law enforcement, which led to the physical breakup of the protest and arrests of more than 100 participants, chills, curtails, and restricts expression despite the university’s claims of commitment to that very principle,” the statement said.

Washington University’s demonstration on Saturday was one of several that have occurred on college campuses across the country over the past several weeks to protest Israel’s retaliatory response to an Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel led by the Hamas militant group in Gaza, which left about 1,200 dead and more than 200 people taken hostage. So far in Israel’s military assault, more than 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed, most of the population has been displaced and famine is threatening mass starvation. Student protesters are pressing for a cease-fire and are demanding that their colleges divest from companies linked to Israel and publicly denounce the attack on Gaza as a genocide.

“There was a lot of screaming of Palestinian liberation versus Jewish,” Penelope, a member of Jewish Students for Palestine, who was at the protest Saturday, told NBC News, adding that she supports Washington University students’ demands. “I truly, to my entire core, believe that we can and we must have both. To focus exclusively on Jewish safety through militarily arming Israel is something that does not fundamentally ring true to me.”