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Scott Ritter: Student Protests Among ‘Most Important Things’ to Happen in US in Decades

© AFP 2023 / CHARLY TRIBALLEAUPolice officers stand in front of the entrance of Columbia University which is occupied by pro-Palestine protesters in New York on April 22, 2024.
Police officers stand in front of the entrance of Columbia University which is occupied by pro-Palestine protesters in New York on April 22, 2024. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.05.2024
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video address that the protests against his country on American universities that had then only recently sprung up were "antisemitic mobs" that had "taken over" college campuses. He called on US authorities to do more to stop them.
The growing student protest movement against the continued bombardment of Gazans by the Israeli government is among one of the most important things to happen in the US in “many, many decades,” former UN inspector and military expert Scott Ritter told Sputnik’s The Critical Hour on Tuesday.
“If you were an American like myself, who is not inclined to go out and protest and hold signs and disrupt things, man, we have to wake up,” he explained. “I have to wake up. We have to join these students one way or another and join their cause in letting the government know that we will not stand silent in the face of police oppression of the right of American citizens to speak out, to assemble, to hold their government account."

“I think these student protests right now are some of the most important things to have happened in American society in many, many decades,” Ritter emphasized.

Tuesday night, what appeared to be hundreds of officers with the New York Police Department entered Columbia University in riot gear and military-grade vehicles, arresting approximately 300 people, according to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. That raid came after similar raids across the country, including in Texas, where 79 people, including some faculty members who joined students, were arrested.
Meanwhile, a 65-year-old professor, Steve Tamari, was hospitalized after an officer at Washington University in St. Louis slammed him to the ground, breaking multiple ribs and his hand, according to a statement he put out from the hospital. More than 100 people were arrested in that protest.
Colleges being a place for the free exchange of ideals is a critical part of our society, Ritter argued, adding that he believes the crackdown is designed to end this.

“As somebody who has taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States… I respect not only [the] students’ constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of assembly, I also recognize that college is one of the great zones of developing good citizens,” Ritter said.

Over the weekend, presidential candidate Jill Stein was arrested at a protest. Stein says she was told she was being charged with assaulting an officer, but clarified in a later interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald that was not on her paperwork.
Part of the purpose of colleges is "to create an incubator for the development of good citizenship, not compliant zombies," Ritter explained, arguing that the US needs, "citizens who think, who empower themselves with knowledge and information and express that individually and collectively.”
At University of California, Los Angeles, a group of pro-Israeli protesters reportedly fired pepper spray and fireworks at student protesters during clashes. Witnesses claim that while the police were standing by, they did not intervene for hours.
Ritter noted the US government is doing “just about everything possible wrong,” underscoring that the US “needs these students to come out and they’ve picked an issue, Gaza, which is the manifestation of the totality of all we do wrong as a government.”
“When you go to university, we need you to become radical. We need you to think. We need you to exercise your brain and your spirit and your conscience. And [the government is] trying to suppress them because apparently we don’t want good citizens anymore,” the analyst concluded.
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