President Biden says pro-Palestinian protesters have right to gather, but 'there is no place for hate speech'

The president said "order must prevail" on college campuses.
Posted at 10:48 AM, May 02, 2024

In his most extensive comments about ongoing pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, President Joe Biden said on Thursday protesters have a right to exercise their free speech rights, but that violence and hate speech from demonstrators is unlawful and should not be tolerated.

President Biden's comments were delivered as police tried to forcefully remove protesters from UCLA's campus early Thursday. The demonstrations were among dozens being held across the U.S., which caused some campuses to close classrooms and cancel commencement ceremonies.

"Peaceful protests are in the best tradition of how Americans respond to consequential issues," President Biden said. "But, neither are we a lawless country. We're a civil society and order must prevail."

The president said the protests have not caused him to rethink his policies regarding the Middle East. The U.S. has continued to provide military assistance for the Israel Defense Forces in its retaliation for last October's terrorist attack conducted by Hamas.

The result of Israel's offensive has caused a massive humanitarian crisis in Gaza, displacing many Palestinians and making access to food and health care challenging.

While some protests at college campuses have been peaceful, there have been reports of trespassing and antisemitic comments at some demonstrations.

"People have the right to get an education, right to get a degree, right to walk across the campus safely without fear of being attacked," President Biden said. "Let's be clear about this as well. There should be no place on any campus, no place in America for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish students. There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether it's antisemitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab Americans or Palestinian Americans. It's simply wrong. There's no place for racism in America."