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Prosecutor: U-M protesters charged for alleged police assaults at sit-in

Ruthven Administation Building
The Ruthven Administration Building at the University of Michigan campus, seen here on December 7, has been the site of several student protests. (Bridge photo by Isabel Lohman)
  • Prosecutor charges four people for alleged role at University of Michigan sit-in protest
  • Defendants are accused of assaulting or attempting to disarm police officers
  • Prosecutor declines to charge peaceful protesters but says more charges may still be forthcoming

Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit is charging four individuals for allegedly assaulting or attempting to disarm police officers during a November sit-in protest at the University of Michigan, his office said Thursday. 

Those charged include a 59-year-old male accused of grabbing an officer’s baton to pull it away, two 22-year-old males accused of pushing officers and a 25-year-old accused of lowering his shoulder to charge an officer.

The prosecutor’s office estimates that more than 250 people entered the Ruthven Administration Building on Nov. 17 as part of a protest over Israel's actions during an ongoing war with Hamas.

Protesters allegedly entered the locked building by “pushing past officers.” Some were arrested after refusing orders to leave U-M President Santa Ono’s office suite, according to the prosecutor. 

Assaulting a police officer in Michigan is considered a felony punishable by two years in prison and/or fines. Charges are merely allegations and must be proven in a court of law.  

Savit’s office is declining to pursue charges against individuals who are alleged to have taken part in the sit-in but had “no additional allegations of assaultive or otherwise unlawful behavior.”


“For individuals who engaged in non-assaultive civil disobedience, we believe that any internal University sanctions that may be pursued are sufficient at this time,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. 

Others associated with the sit-in may be still charged. 

“We are also continuing to evaluate several charge requests involving alleged conduct that went beyond civil disobedience,” the office said. “We are aware that the events of November 17 were chaotic, and that law-enforcement investigations are continuing.”

The charges are among the first stemming from a series of ongoing protests at the University of Michigan, including graduation event disruptions and an encampment that has remained largely peaceful since its April 22 launch. 

Police arrested one non-student at a related protest earlier this month. 

U-M in March released a draft policy proposing to forbid “disruptive activity” on campus but has not formalized the policy. 

The sit-in took place the Friday before Thanksgiving and a little over one month after Hamas killed 1,200 Isrealis on Oct. 7. More than 34,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in the ensuing conflict.


Student protesters have been calling on the university to “divest” from Israel by cutting any financial ties. But university officials have declined to do so, a position Board of Regents Chair Sarah Hubbard reiterated in a Thursday meeting.

On Wednesday, a group of about 30 people protested at Hubbard’s Lansing area home and provided a list of demands. The group placed items on Hubbard’s lawn that looked like body bags with fake blood. Hubbard called the action “unacceptable.” 

The TAHRIR Coalition, a group of over 90 student organizations calling for U-M to divest in Israeli companies and funds, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment on the charges announced Thursday. 

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