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Pro-Palestine protesters disrupt Eisgruber’s annual Reunions address

A crowd of people, many of them with their hands painted red, crowd around the back entrance of Richardson Auditorium.
Protesters raise hands painted in red in front of Richardson Auditorium.
Christopher Bao / The Daily Princetonian

Protests erupted at remarks by University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 at his annual address to alumni in Richardson Auditorium, called “A Conversation with President Eisgruber.” Approximately 25 protesters raised their hands, which were painted in red. After six minutes of demonstrations, they exited the auditorium and continued to protest outside. The session continued as normal, proceeding with a Q&A.

Saturday is the third and final day of Princeton Reunions — approximately 25,000 alumni are on Princeton’s campus for festivities. The University’s annual P-Rade will take place at 2 p.m.

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At around 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into Eisgruber’s speech, one protester stood up and began shouting at him. “We are complicit in genocide,” they yelled. In turn, many present booed the protestor.

The President’s address is one of the few opportunities for members of the University community to interact with Eisgruber on a public forum. The session was well populated — approximately 300 attendees were present. Protesters have also been spotted with red hands at the Class of 2024 photo on Blair Arch at 12:30 p.m.

“We do believe in free speech, but we don’t believe in free speech that interrupts, so we’re gonna put a stop to this,” Eisgruber said as the protester continued shouting. He then attempted to redirect the focus of the crowd by playing a pre-prepared video about the University’s construction projects with upbeat music.

Eisgruber is shown in the picture in an orange suit, slightly out of frame. In the front row of the audience, many individuals have their hands raised.

Protesters raise hands painted in red while Eisgruber speaks in Richardson.

Eden Teshome / The Daily Princetonian

After the video concluded, the protestors left the building, and many of them continued to have their hands raised. Both while leaving Richardson and outside, protesters continued to chant. “Eisgruber, Eisgruber, we won’t rest,” and “We won’t rest until divest.” The chanting continued at the back until slightly after 11 a.m., at which point part of the protesters started walking toward the front of the building.

One protester, identified by Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest (PIAD) in a tweet as an alumnus, was arrested at the doors of Richardson. They were released shortly after. Another protester was briefly pulled away by PSAFE, but was not arrested.

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During the short march to the front of the building, protestors were supported by some onlookers and heckled by others while continuing their chants. The Daily Princetonian spoke to Alexander Churchill, who identified himself as the son of a 45th Reunion attendee. He called the protestors “modern day brownshirts,” and believed that “people here who are walking around are not going to be turned to their cause… when they're just here to enjoy the weekend.”

Brownshirts is an alternative name for the SA, a violent Nazi paramilitary organization founded in 1921 by Adolf Hitler.

Churchill was also critical of divestment, however, he said he did not think that protestors should be arrested for their actions this morning.

Inside, as the meeting neared its end, voices began to emanate from underneath seats. Members in the audience found several small, cube-shaped speakers scattered among the audience near where protesters were previously seated. Richardson staff removed the electronic speakers from the audience.

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Protestors then convened outside the Nassau Presbyterian Church at around 12:06 p.m. to strategize for later. One protestor said that they “will need numbers later, everyone who can come back later raise their hand.” About half of the crowd then left.

Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the investigations editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

Christopher Bao is an assistant News editor and the accessibility director for the ‘Prince.’ He is from Princeton, N.J. and typically covers town politics and life.

Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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