Days after University of New Hampshire police cleared out an unauthorized overnight encampment staged by anti-Israel student groups, the same demonstrators returned on Monday afternoon to the scene of the mayhem — but with a different message.

Previous rallies have urged “Free Palestine,” while much of the rhetoric at Monday’s midday walkout was about “freeing” students and activists who were arrested last week on charges ranging from trespass to assaulting a police officer.

“Maybe we should be cutting [police budgets] because they don’t keep us safe,” said UNH women’s and gender studies professor Siobhan Senier said Monday.

Monday’s rally against Israel and the UNH administration was peaceful and arrest free. The 100 or so anti-Israel protesters chanted “Long Live the Intifada,” a celebration of the deadly terror campaign waged by Palestinians against Israelis between 1987 and 2005.

One speaker referred to the U.S. flag being waved by a counter protester as the “MAGA flag.” At a previous anti-Israel rally on the UNH campus, a speaker called it “that dirty rag” and “the Nazi flag.”

Addressing the protesters, Senier hailed student demonstrators for “being on the right side of history” and questioned “why we spend so much money on police?”

“What happened here last week was heartbreaking, it was appalling, and it was really unnecessary,” Senier told the gathering, before leading them in a “Free Palestine” chant.

Continuing the anti-cop theme, the pro-Palestinian protesters wrapped up their gathering with the chant, “Oink oink piggy piggy, we will make your life sh***y.”

Earlier in the day, UNH President James Dean told WFEA radio’s Drew Cline the university’s response was “appropriate,” and he praised the police handling of a difficult situation.

“We’re very fortunate that [UNH Police Chief Paul Dean] is the head of an international group of police officers on campus, and he’s in touch with other police leaders around the country and even around the world. So he’s incredibly well informed about what’s going on and what the options are.”

President Dean also pointed out that calls for his resignation are superfluous given that he’s retiring on June 30.

The protest drew a handful of student counter protesters proudly waving American flags — as well as two First Congressional District GOP candidates hoping to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep Chris Pappas in November.

Russell Prescott, a former member of the Executive Council, told NHJournal the “antisemitism we are seeing from so many of our young people on college campuses across our state and nation is disgusting.”

“However, it is important to recognize that there are also young people who are taking a stand for Israel and against hate. It’s never easy to fight for what’s right, especially when you’re going against the grain of a large number of your misguided peers.”

Prescott praised the counter protesters “for their courage” and said he was “proud to show my support for them.”

GOP candidate for Congress Hollie Noveletsky at UNH protest on May 6, 2024

Fellow GOP candidate Hollie Noveletsky, a former U.S. Army reservist and registered nurse, even brought cookies.

“I’m a Jewish mom and we feed people,” she said with a laugh.

Noveletsky said she met several of the student counter protesters at one of her campaign meetings and decided to lend them her support. Asked if she would still be there if she had been elected to Congress, Noveletsky didn’t hesitate.

“Yes,” she said. “I believe this is the right thing to do, to stand up for America, and for Jewish Americans, and for the Israelis. It’s easy to do it when everybody is behind you but the hard part is to stand up when it really counts.”

Sebastian Rowan, a civil environmental engineering graduate student, said he was one of 12 arrested during last Wednesday’s crackdown, and he feels “scared.”

“Because of UNH’s decision to bring in police to violently crush a peaceful protest I’m now facing five years in prison,” Rowan said, adding that he’s a married father of two. “I’m afraid to be here right now because I know UNH does not respect our right to speak freely.

“But I refuse to be silent because the punishment I’m facing and the fear that I am feeling right now is nothing compared to what the people of Gaza have been facing for generations, especially within the next six months.”

Rowan was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and assaulting a police office after allegedly grabbing the police chief.

President Dean has dismissed claims that police broke up a peaceful protest, noting that, before last week’s attempt to erect an encampment, there had been seven protests on campus without any arrests.

Candidate Russell Prescott, a former member of the Executive Council, told NHJournal the “antisemitism we are seeing from so many of our young people on college campuses across our state and nation is disgusting.”

Sophomore Sam Farrington drew cheers and jeers when he hoisted an American flag and led a chant of “USA! USA!” When Farrington found a spot to wave the flag, a protester with a Palestinian flag stood next to him to do the same.

Farrington, UNH College Republicans member, told NHJournal he and others showed up “to show our support for America because we’re proud to be Americans.”

Farrington said he personally heard “death to America, death to Israel,” chants during previous demonstrations. And NHJournal has posted audio of chants of “U.S. Israel, go to hell!” from a previous protest.

“They hate America, they’re communists, they chant ‘death to America’ and that’s just not going to happen. Do we have free speech? Yes. I’m a free speech absolutist so I say that’s OK. But this whole thing is ridiculous.”

The anti-Israel activists had their own story to tell, however.

Jordan, a pro-Palestine freshman student who declined to share her last name, said she was raised “under the narrative that the United States is a free country” and that as college students “we have the privilege of education and a platform for change.”

“I’m proud to say so many people here today chose to use that platform to show solidarity for the struggle for humanity in Palestine,” she told the crowd. “To every college president across the country – and to our President Joe Biden – why do the rights that I was told so fervently to defend only apply when it involves money?”

Among the demands from pro-Palestine student groups is that UNH divest stock in companies with ties to Israel.

Another student who did not share her name said UNH lacks the power to ban students from building encampments on campus because “we are already on occupied land.”

“This is a settlers’ colony,” she said. “And we are talking about another colony right now that’s being ethnically cleansed, like this land has been ethnically cleansed.”

Missing from the pro-Palestine speaker topics was any mention of Oct. 7, 2023, the day Hamas broke a long-standing ceasefire established between Palestine and Israel with a surprise attack, killing more Jews in a single attack than any single act since the Holocaust.

As Monday’s rally neared its end, one pro-Israel counter protester and a pro-Palestine student demonstrator engaged in a debate over the origins of the current conflict.

“The Jewish people were granted land following World War II as refugees because they had gone through something really bad, only that land had belonged to someone else before,” said the pro-Palestine student, who did not share her name.

The counter protester, sophomore Evan Reilly, then asked who had first occupied the land in question.

“That’s not what we’re talking about,” the pro-Palestine student said before abruptly walking away. “If you’re never going to read and learn then I’m not going to talk about it.”

Asked about the demonstration, Reilly told NHJournal, “It’s more about them being a left-wing group.”

“It’s not about the issue at all because they don’t know anything about the issue,” he added.

On Monday evening UNH issued a statement, calling the dueling demonstrations “impassioned, provocative and peaceful.”

“No one exercising their free speech rights on campus speaks on behalf of the University of New Hampshire, but we will continue to protect the constitutionally guaranteed right of our students, faculty, and the public to safely share their views in accordance with the law and university policy.”