SOUTH BEND — Facing backlash from faculty and students, the Rev. John Jenkins said he commends Notre Dame police for the arrest of 17 people on May 2 to end a pro-Palestinian protest on campus.

In a public statement Monday, the university's outgoing president defended Notre Dame's response to a protest that lasted more than six hours, moving toward a main campus quad before arrests began shortly after 10 p.m. In all, police took 17 participants to jail that night, and each faces a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing for refusing to leave private property.

"While some letters we received complained of a 'disproportionate response' by University police and administrators," Jenkins wrote, "I believe the response was measured and appropriate to an unregistered protest gathering about the Middle East war, at a time when such protests have led to violence at several campuses across the nation.

"Notre Dame police and administrators carried out their duties with patience, discretion and professionalism, and I commend them for their work.”

More than 300 faculty signed their names to a letter sent to Jenkins last week in which they condemned the "criminalizing responses" to students engaging in peaceful protest. They urged the Jenkins administration to request that the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's office drop all charges against the students.

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