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Pro-Palestinian protestors block entrance to OSU's president's office building, call for ceasefire

Two signs are held up at a protest calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian War in Gaza.
George Shillcock
Protestors blocked the entrance to The Ohio State University President Peter Mohler's offices on the corner of N. High Street and 15th Avenue on campus. The protestors called for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for OSU to disinvest in programs and initiatives that benefit Israel.

Protestors calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian war blocked the entrance to The Ohio State University president's office building on High Street Friday, the latest in a series of protests that have disrupted Ohio State and Columbus City Council recently.

Over 100 protestors blocked the entrance to OSU Interim President Peter Mohler's offices on 15th Avenue and North High Street at the OSU Office of Academic Affairs. The protestors prevented people from entering and leaving the building and chanted criticisms at the university.

This protest was similar to other recent protests with the same organizations where demonstrators interrupted two recent Columbus City Council meetings and an OSU Board of Trustees committee meeting. The main organizers included the Palestinian Liberation Movement and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

As the protestors blocked the doors, they confronted people who were leaving the building and one man attempting to enter the building tried to push through the crowd but was not let through. Some OSU employees stood in windows looking down on the protests and took photos with their phones of what was going on below.

Shortly after officers with OSU PD and the Columbus Division of Police Dialogue Unit informed protestors they could be arrested, the protestors chanted for a few more minutes and left the scene.

On Friday, the protestors started their activities at Bricker Hall in The Oval with speeches and loud music.

Organizer Shenby G. said OSU should call for a ceasefire and disinvest money from programs that support Israel. Until the university does these things, G. says the protests won't stop. They chanted to the crowd and said the groups will keep fighting until Palestine is free.

"When we pressure OSU, even though it is local, we are aiding the Palestinian struggle," G. said.

The protests come as the war in Gaza is nearly halfway through its second month. Israel is bombing the densely populated city to destroy Hamas, a militant group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing over 1,000 civilians and kidnapping over 200 people, including some American citizens.

Israel, in retaliation has bombed Gaza repeatedly and Israel's intensifying military response to the Hamas attack has killed almost 10,000 people in Gaza, including thousands of civilians, and created a dire humanitarian crisis there.

NPR reports Israeli troops now directly control much of northern Gaza, and this week occupied a major hospital center.

G. said other demands of OSU include the university denouncing what protestors called Israel's genocide and apartheid against the Palestinian people and the discontinuation of relations with OSUPD, who protestors say get training from Israeli defense forces, like many other police departments in the United States.

In a statement, OSU spokesperson Benjamin Johnson said the university is focused on the safety of the university community and reaching out to and supporting all members of the community in these troubling times.

"Ohio State utilizes a diversified investment strategy to grow the resources available to support our academic mission, such as student scholarships, faculty positions and educational resources. The university follows all applicable laws regarding investments, including state laws specifically addressing this issue. Ohio State’s endowment is not funded with tuition or fees," Johnson said.

WOSU has reached out to OSU Hillel, a Jewish student life organization, for comment on the protests, but have not heard back.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.