US lawyer threatens masked student Gaza protesters with ‘KKK’ felony charges

Masked pro-Palestinian student protesters in the United States
Masked pro-Palestinian student protesters in the United States . . . threatened by prosecutors in the state of Ohio as protests continue to spread around the world. Image: AJ screenshot APR

Asia Pacific Report

Ohio’s top lawyer has warned the state’s public universities that a law written to deter Ku Klux Klan demonstrations could be used to impose felony charges on students who wear face coverings while protesting against Israel’s war on Gaza, reports Al Jazeera.

In a letter sent out this week, after weeks of pro-Palestinian campus protests around the United States, Republican Attorney-General Dave Yost advised the presidents of Ohio’s 34 public universities to forewarn students about the 1953 law.

“In our society, there are few more significant career-wreckers than a felony charge,” the letter said.

“I write to you today to inform your student bodies of an Ohio law that, in the context of some behavior during the recent pro-Palestinian protests, could have that effect.”

Violating this “anti-disguise” law is punishable by a fourth-degree felony charge, up to US$5000 in fines and five years on community control, Yost wrote.

College campuses around the world have exploded in recent weeks in protests — with the latest at the University of Amsterdam facing a crackdown down by Dutch police — as pro-Palestinian students and faculty members demonstrate against Israel’s war on Gaza, in which almost 35,000 people have been killed.

Protests in NZ
In New Zealand, there have been rallies at two of the largest universities in the country, Auckland and Otago, and open letters of protest by academics against government inaction against Israel, while there have been large weekly pro-Palestine demonstrations at more than 20 centres across the country for seven months.

The global student protests are resonating with Palestinians who have endured the destruction of all 12 universities in Gaza.

Palestinian university presidents signed an open letter saying the protests serve as a “beacon of hope”.

Al Jazeera’s The Take podcast series speaks to student protesters as well as advocates in Palestine to examine the issue. Listen to the episode here.

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