Two Harvard grad students face criminal charges over Oct. 18 incident at pro-Palestinian ‘die-in’ - The Boston Globe (2024)

The incident, which attracted widespread attention last year after videos of it spread widely online, was one of several high-profile events that ratcheted up pressure on Harvard in the weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel. It contributed to the decision by a Republican-controlled congressional committee to summon former Harvard president Claudine Gay to Washington last December for questioning over campus antisemitism. Gay later resigned in part because of the scathing criticism she faced for her testimony at the Dec. 5 hearing.

The alleged assault has also become fodder for political battles over Harvard’s handling of antisemitism. In April, Representative Elise Stefanik, a member of the congressional committee that questioned Gay, sent university leaders a letter accusing them of a “delay of justice” in the case, according to the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper.

The congressional committee last week issued a preliminary investigative report accusing Harvard of failing to implement the recommendations of an antisemitism advisory group convened by Gay. In a statement last week, Harvard spokesperson Jason Newton said, “Harvard has and will continue to be unequivocal — in our words and actions — that antisemitism is not and will not be tolerated on our campus.” Harvard declined to comment on the charges stemming from the Oct. 18 demonstration.

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Tettey-Tamaklo, identified in court records as a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, was also a Harvard staff member until he was relieved of his duties last November because of his involvement in the Oct. 18 incident, the Crimson reported last year. He had served as a proctor, similar to the role of a dormitory resident assistant.

Bharmal is identified in police reports as a graduate student at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Lawyers for Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal did not respond to requests for comment Monday. A lawyer for the Jewish student declined to comment. The Crimson first reported the charges.

The student who is enrolled at Harvard Business School, told university police last year that he was accosted at the Oct. 18 demonstration while he videoed the event, according to the police reports. He told police that he believed the demonstrators knew he was Jewish when they approached him, made physical contact with him, and urged him to leave the area of the protest.

One witness, identified as Abdullah Al-Shakarchi, said he saw the student “walking among the protesters and filming them,” according to one of the police reports. Al-Shakarchi “interpreted [the student’s] actions as an attempt to intimidate the students.” Al-Shakarchi and other witnesses also described seeing a group of people surround the student and attempt to remove him from the demonstration, according to the police reports.

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The student said “he was hit multiple times by many people,” according to the police reports. “Most of the contacts were people trying to prevent him from moving freely by holding out their arms in a rigid fashion and contacting” him, according to one of the reports.

People also made contact with him when they “held up large scarves, referred to as keffiyehs to prevent [the student] from videotaping or photographing.” Additionally, according to one of the police reports, the student said “people associated with the demonstration got so close to him that they contacted him with their torso.”

Al-Shakarchi said the group followed the student and “made unintended contact with him multiple times,” according to one of the reports.

“In reviewing all of the provided video, Ibrahim Bharmal, Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, an [sic] as of yet three unidentified individuals appear to make contact with [the student] on more than one occasion in violation of” state law, one of the police reports states.

“The demonstrators had no legal authority to tell [the student] to leave the protest area,” the report says.

The police reviewed videos recorded by the student, by witnesses, and by at least one news helicopter.

The “die-in” was organized to coincide with a visit to Harvard Business School by former president Barack Obama, which Obama canceled at the last minute, according to the police reports.

Tettey-Tamaklo is scheduled to be arraigned on June 3, court records show. It was unclear when Bharmal will be arraigned.

The office of Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden can now decide whether to prosecute the cases. A spokesperson for Hayden’s office declined to comment.

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Mike Damiano can be reached at mike.damiano@globe.com. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe.

Two Harvard grad students face criminal charges over Oct. 18 incident at pro-Palestinian ‘die-in’ - The Boston Globe (2024)
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