Biden condemns campus violence: 'Order must prevail'

President Joe Biden on Thursday urged that “order must prevail” as pro-Palestinian protests rock college campuses across the country, emphasizing that violent protest is not protected under the law.

Breaking days of silence on the issue since the arrests of students and other protesters at Columbia University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, Biden emphasized that “peaceful protest is in the best tradition of how Americans respond to consequential issues” and that the U.S. is not a “lawless country.”

“Violent protest is not protected — peaceful protest is,” the president said. “It’s against the law when violence occurs. Destroying property is not a peaceful protest.

Biden also said that antisemitism, threats of violence against Jewish students, hate speech or violence of any kind have no place on any campus.

“Whether it’s antisemitism, Islamophobia or discrimination against Arab Americans or Palestinian Americans, it’s simply wrong,” he said. “There’s no place for racism in America. It’s all wrong, it’s un-American.”

“I understand people have strong feelings and deep convictions,” he added. “In America, we respect the right and protect the rights for them to express that, but it doesn’t mean anything goes. It needs to be done without violence, without distraction, without hating and within the law.”

In response to a shouted question by a reporter asking whether college campus protests have made him reconsider any policies on Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza, Biden replied, “No.”

The president also said “no” to a separate shouted question asking whether he thinks the National Guard should intervene in the campus protests.

Biden has come under fire from pro-Palestinian protesters who argue he is supporting genocide in Gaza as he maintains that Israel has a right to defend itself — an accusation the White House has repeatedly denied. While protesters demand an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, Biden has continued to state his support of Israel even as he criticizes its handling of the war and the lives lost in Gaza in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the country.

In his remarks Thursday, Biden also criticized “those who rush in to score political points” from the protests, saying that “this isn’t a moment for politics, it’s a moment for clarity.”

Biden did not specify who he was referring to, but his remarks come as former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has attempted to blame Biden and Democrats for the violence that has broken out during campus protests.

Trump has repeatedly decried the protesters as being part of the “radical left” and has called out Biden for his lack of intervention or objection to the campus protests as police have moved to quell demonstrations.

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