Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation condemns use of police force during UMass protests

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation (WMALF) is condemning the use of police violence and mass arrests of protesters during a pro Palestinian encampment at UMass Amherst last week.

They voted unanimously on Monday evening to pass a resolution that condemns the decision by Chancellor Reyes to call in 117 police vehicles to arrest and detain over 130 “peaceful protesters.”

The decision by the WMALF follows a joint statement released on May 8th by the five largest unions at UMass, which condemned the administration’s actions as “tantamount to inviting police violence.”

Their resolution noted that the police endangered undergraduate and graduate students,
union workers, and local community members as they describe, “by using pepper spray, tasers and violently throwing protesters to the ground and leaving arrestees in zip ties overnight in the Mullins Center arena without access to bathrooms.”

“​The UMass chancellor was in a unique position to make a difference. There’s already been prior discussions with the first encampment yet here we were on the second encampment and it kind of reverted what we’ve seen at a couple other locations, we’ve seen across the country, and UMass Amherst is better than that,” said WMALF President Jeff Jones.

In a message to the campus community regarding the actions seen on May 7th, Chancellor Reyes said in part, “As Chancellor, ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and other members of our campus community is one of my most important duties. A safe and respectful learning environment is foundational to enabling free expression and the exchange of ideas – including through peaceful demonstrations.”

The statement continued saying that Reyes would work with his colleagues on the Community, Democracy and Dialogue to help chart a course forward through these contentious issues.

22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts in March 1953. Watch the 22News digital edition on weekdays at 4 p.m.

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