BOSTON (WHDH) - Classes were canceled at Emerson College Thursday after police arrested more than 100 protesters overnight at a student-organized pro-Palestine encampment.

A Boston police spokesperson said 108 protesters were taken into custody. Four officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries while working to maintain control over the situation. No protesters in custody reported any injuries, according to police. Of the injured officers, police said three suffered minor injuries and one suffered serious injuries.

“As we respond to, and process, the events of last night, all classes are canceled for Thursday April 25,” college officials announced near 7:45 a.m. Thursday morning.

Protesters began gathering on Sunday, setting up tents in the Boylston Place alley, which sits between the Massachusetts State Transportation Building and several Emerson College buildings. Emerson warned students on Wednesday they could face consequences for taking part in the demonstration.

In a school-wide email, school officials cautioned the alley is city property, writing, “We are deeply concerned that the protesters are risking legal consequences beyond Emerson’s control when they do not abide by city and state laws.”

Officials also said they received credible reports of some protesters engaging in targeted harassment and intimidation of Jewish supporters of Israel as well as students, faculty and staff trying to get through the alley.

Emerson officials said they support peaceful protest but warned they could not keep the city from enforcing local and state ordinances. 

“It all happened very quickly,” said Rian Nelson, who was at the protest when police moved in. “The protest happened in an alley and we were on both ends of the alley and the riot police came in from both sides and just, it was brutal.”

“I saw people kicked and pushed to the ground,” Nelson said. “I saw riot sticks brandished onto people. It was awful.”

Body camera video shared with 7NEWS showed police making announcements early Thursday morning and asking students to leave before officers started making arrests.

“I don’t want to arrest anybody,” a police captain was heard saying. “I want you to be able to protest.”

7NEWS cameras soon spotted police holding batons and wearing helmets and face shields as they moved down the alley. Protesters who were shouting at police backed up slowly. Eventually, protesters were seen being handcuffed and taken away, with some being carried and others simply escorted out of the alley. 

At times, protesters tried to block Boylston Street, prompting police to make additional arrests.

“It was an overwhelming amount of force against a group of college students,” said Emerson student Adora Brown. “They were in riot gear. It wasn’t a riot. It was a peaceful four day encampment. People were singing and dancing for most of it.”

A number of Boston Police vehicles were still gathered on Boylston Street at the Emerson College campus later Thursday morning. Part of the area was taped off with caution tape. Near 11 a.m., SKY7-HD captured video of crews cleaning up the alley.

“I wish for the safety of everyone who was arrested tonight and, at the end of the day, I hope all of the institutions and administrations that allowed for this to happen reconsider some of their actions and the way that they deal with conflict,” Brown said. “I really hope that people learn a lesson from this.”

Some people speaking with 7NEWS said students ended up at several different police stations across the city after their arrests.

Hours after the arrests, friends of the arrested protesters remained gathered outside at least one Boston police station, cheering as people left the station. 

“Our school is so small, everyone knows someone who was arrested,” Brown said. “It’s a long night.”

“One of our friends was arrested and we’ve spent all morning looking for her and no one can tell us where the hell she is,” Nelson said.

The protesters were expected to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court Thursday morning. Though protesters appeared before a judge, their arraignments were ultimately delayed to next week due to paperwork issues.

Speaking inside the courthouse, one student raised additional concerns about the police response.

“The excessive use of force that Boston police enacted upon the people was incredibly excessive,” the student said. “I don’t think that they needed to use full riot gear. I don’t think that they needed to slam people into statues and then slam people into the ground. You can arrest people without assaulting them.”

The encampment at Emerson was one of several formed on campuses around the country as students and staff at numerous colleges and universities voice demands related to the war in Gaza.

In addition to Emerson, other Boston-area encampments have popped up at campuses including MIT, Tufts, Northeastern and Harvard.

While protests continued elsewhere, Emerson President Jay Bernhardt shared a new message with the school community Thursday afternoon, saying staff and administrators were on scene overnight, “focused on supporting our students through this highly stressful situation and seeking to de-escalate the conflict.”

“Today, Emerson officials were at the police precincts and courthouses with the arrested students, and the College will receive them back on campus when they are released,” Bernhardt said.

“Emerson College recognizes and respects the civic activism and passion that sparked the protest in Boylston Place Alley in support of Palestine while also holding and communicating concerns related to the numerous ordinance violations caused by their encampment,” Bernhardt continued. “We also understand that clearing the encampment has significantly and adversely impacted our community.”

Bernhardt said college counseling and support resources would be available to all community members needing support. Greif counselors were also scheduled to be on campus for several hours Thursday.

“My colleagues in Emerson College leadership and I understand that recent weeks have been extremely challenging on our campus and for many other campuses around the country,” Bernhardt said. “We hope that our community can remain united during this moment of crisis through mutual caring, support, and respect for all the people and perspectives represented in our diverse Emerson community.”

Boston police said they gave protesters plenty of time to clear out before they started arresting people Thursday morning.

Asked about the arrests later in the day, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu defended police.

“There was no issue with students being out there protesting, there was no issue with being there 24 hours a day in that particular space. The issue was just around fire hazards that were being created with the tents and the public health and safety risks that were happening there as well.”

Emerson’s student government is now calling on Bernhardt to resign over how they say he’s handled the protests. They will be convening for a vote of no confidence on Friday at 1 p.m., according to a press release.

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