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Elected officials weigh in on pro-Palestine protests, arrests at Ohio State University

Hundreds of protestors gather at the Ohio Union on OSU's campus on April 25, 2024.
George Shillcock
WOSU Public Media
Hundreds of protestors gather at the Ohio Union on OSU's campus on April 25, 2024.

State troopers and university police arrested three dozen people at Ohio State University late Thursday night, the culmination of six hours of pro-Palestine protests against the war in Gaza.

The protest's organizers said they want Ohio State to disclose and divest any university dollars going to Israel, mimicking others around the country at universities like Columbia University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Gov. Mike DeWine said in an interview Friday he had been communicating with the state's public universities as those protests flare nationwide. Ohio State President Ted Carter requested Ohio State Highway Patrol assistance around 5 p.m. on Thursday, DeWine said.

“They (police) gave them (protestors) plenty of warning last night and then they had them removed,” he said.

DeWine said the university and law enforcement agencies struck a balance between First Amendment rights and university rules and regulations.

“People have a right to express their opinions, but if that gets in the way of other students learning, if they're chanting outside a classroom or in a way that is interfering with what goes on at any university, I think the law is very clear and the Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, is very clear,” DeWine said.

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said the dozens of late-night arrests were due to “well-established university rules” against camping out overnight on campus green spaces.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted lauded the agencies on X, formerly Twitter, for “for firmly and professionally dispersing the anti-Israel demonstration at Ohio State.”

But Democratic lawmakers in both the Ohio House and Senate, including members of the Jewish Caucus, issued a Friday afternoon statement calling their actions unwarranted.

“Students have a right to protest peacefully, no matter the cause,” a joint caucus email statement read. “And while peacefully demonstrating that right, there is no room or excuse for the unnecessary force that was used on the students and demonstrators.”

Freshman Rep. Munira Abdullahi (D-Columbus) attended Thursday to deliver remarks and protest. Abdullahi wrote on X she had “the bruised ribs to prove it.”

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at